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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

A Crown Of Thorns

Unlike the French, Indian or British systems, the US bureaucracy is not apolitical. Which is why presidential power itself became the end in these elections.

A Crown Of Thorns
A Crown Of Thorns
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The battle for the American presidency is over. All that remains is to count the potential cost to America and the fallout for the rest of the world. From the very beginning, two principles of constitutional law were at war with each other in the confusion that followed the Florida results. The first was the need to ascertain the will of the people to the fullest extent possible—a right guaranteed under the first amendment of the US Constitution. The second was the need to respect the integrity of the constitutional and legal process, enshrined in Article II of the US Constitution. By a 5-4 verdict that has split the US Supreme Court as perhaps no other judgement has in 104 years, the court came down in favour of the latter. It ruled that the Florida Supreme Court had exceeded its authority in extending the deadline for the counting of votes in Florida from November 12 to November 26. On that basis it stopped all manual recounting of votes and invalidated the results of the partial recount that had already taken place.

By the time this happened, George W. Bush's unofficial lead had dwindled to 154. Besides, if one took into account the results of just the partial recount that had taken place in Miami-Dade, it was a foregone conclusion that if the recount was completed, Al Gore would have won. The Supreme Court's decision has thus split America as nothing before. The fact that all the three judgements of the court went strictly on party lines, with the five Republican-appointed judges exercising their power in favour of Bush, has deepened the unease.

What does this lame victory mean for American governance, and what does it tell us about American democracy? The short answer to the first question is that Bush has inherited a crown of thorns. For, with the presidency he has also inherited a near-deadlocked Congress. Getting anything through will...
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