Synopses & Reviews
The infamous 2000 presidential election produced hanging chads, butterfly ballots, endless recounts, raucous allegations, and a constitutional crisis--until a controversial Supreme Court decision allowed George W. Bush to become president despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore. Charles L. Zelden presents the definitive history of this vexing and acrimonious affair, offering the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate analysis of a remarkable episode in American politics. Zelden probes deeper than any other scholar has sought to do--showing that both the election controversy of 2000 and Bush v. Gore signaled major flaws in our electoral system that remain with us today, exposing a hidden crisis in American democracy. Zelden, who lives and teaches in Broward County (one of the key recount sites), distills the voluminous literature on Bush v. Gore in his sharply insightful and balanced account of the election crisis and the litigation that followed. Tracing the back-and-forth between concessions and retractions, Gore and Bush attorneys, and state and federal courts, he underscores the extraordinary clock-ticking tension between statutory deadlines governing the electoral process and the desire to have every vote counted and counted accurately. Zelden offers a nonpartisan analysis of the legal opinions in the case, particularly the Supreme Court's ruling; he explores the judicial philosophy underlying the reasoning of each justice. His book invites readers to consider the case independent of their personal views of the candidates and reorients our view of the crisis to emphasize the failures of the system rather than the election of a president by apparent judicial decree. He sets allof these events, issues, and legal rulings within their proper historical context, making complex issues easy to understand and also reviewing events of the succeeding seven years in light of the decision. As Zelden shows, the true tragedy of 2000 was the failure of every person and every institution involved--especially the Supreme Court--to take this crisis as an opportunity to diagnose the problems of our broken electoral system and to urge its repair. We may prefer to put this decision behind us, but we ignore it--and its lessons--at our peril.
Who could forget the Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore or the 2000 presidential campaign and election that preceded it? Hanging chads, butterfly ballots, endless recounts, raucous allegations, and a constitutional crisis were all roiled into a confusing and potentially dangerous mix-until the Supreme Court decision allowed George W. Bush to become the 43rd President of the United States, despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore.
Praised by scholars and political pundits alike, the original edition of Charles Zelden's book set a new standard for our understanding of that monumental decision. A probing chronicle and critique of the vexing and acrimonious affair, it offered the most accurate and up-to-date analysis of a remarkable episode in American politics. Highly readable, its comprehensive coverage, depth of documentation and detail, and analytic insights remain unrivaled on the subject.
In this first paperback edition, Zelden has abridged and simplified the original to focus on the core story and its essential details, greatly increasing its appeal for a wider and more diverse readership, including students and general readers. He has also added a postscript that deals with developments of the past decade relating to the case.
Like the original edition, this volume distills the events, issues, and voluminous commentary relating to Bush v. Gore into a sharply insightful and nonpartisan account of a remarkable election, the crisis it produced, and the litigation that followed. Ultimately, it shows that both the election controversy of 2000 and Bush v. Gore signaled major flaws in our electoral system that remain with us today.
Provides the most concise, accurate, and up-to-date analysis of the events and controversies surrounding the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that stopped the Florida recount and gave George W. Bush a razor-thin electoral-vote victory over Al Gore to make him our 43rd president.
Table of Contents
Preface: "The Case That Must Be Named"
1. A Vote Too Close to Call
2. Enter the Lawyers
3. Eye of the Beholder
4. The Battlefield of Litigation
5. The Ticking of the Clock
6. Ballots before the Bench
7. "A Florida Hurricane Heading to Washington"
8. Headfirst into the Political Thicket
9. A Self-Inflicted Wound?
10. The Unlearned Lessons of 2000
Afterword: The Process Matters
Postscript: Lessons Still Unlearned
Chronology: A Time Line of Events for the 2000 Presidential Postelection Crisis