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UNITED STATES: The presidential elections crisis implications

While the issue of who won the US election seemed to approach its conclusion, that would not end the crisis. Both major parties would have about equal strength in Congress, and the aggrieved loser (muttering "We wus robbed") would certainly make life difficult for the President. A United States thus paralyzed could not play its decisive role in world affairs. Most of the comments on this imbroglio were either despair at the confusion, or amusement, especially on the part of foreign commentators. At last there was a detailed, serious analysis of the legal situation and of its worldwide implications. It was a report, issued by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, by Jaques de Lisle, Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and entitled " The election sausages and foreign policy. The virtues and limits of legalism in American politics." It noted that a swarm of lawyers had descended on Florida, reflecting the fact that the United States has more lawyers per population than any other country in the world and that Americans are especially prone to resort to the law. Americans boast that the United States is governed by the rule of law (sometimes implying that the rest of the world is lawless) and that there is a law court in every city (as though they were a uniquely American feature). While lawyers are professionally qualified to make laws, they can engage in hair-splitting. Bolivia, one of the worst governed countries in he world, has, thanks to its lawyers, had almost 140 constitutions, so numerous (nearly 140) that reference books do not give the precise number. The British public now feels that its lack of a written constitution, is proof of its institutional backwardness. The European Union is talking of creating its own constitution. Fine, but there should be awareness of the possible drawbacks..

Ronald Hilton - 11/18/00