As I walk to and from class, I notice with some frequency a car parked in the law school parking lot sporting a couple of bumper stickers shown to the right. (Stickers lifted from GWBush.com.) I guess I can concede some initial humor in these stickers. However, and not to be overly pretentious or anything, I really doubt whether people associated with law school with find these messages all that amusing.

To tell the truth, everytime I see the car with these stickers, I find myself growing just a little upset and disappointed.

To be fair, I'm working under the assumption that whoever owns this vehicle has some connection with the law school, and this may not in fact be the case. Given that I see that car in the same space multiple times every week, I think at the very least it's a legitimate assumption, if not a true one. And furthermore, even if the owner of this car is not a law student, faculty or administration member, the rest of this post still holds true. The only change might be that my level of disappointed is marginally reduced.

The "Don't blame me sticker" doesn't really provoke my ire as much as the other sticker. I do think it's somewhat misleading, especially in connection with the other one. That sucker really makes my head shake.

First of all, I'm sure none of us need a civics lesson with regard to how we elect a president. A candidate can carry the popular vote and lose the electoral college vote. Albert Gore suffered this fate two years ago, holding a popular vote margin of about 500,000 votes over Bush.

NEWSFLASH: Gore didn't win.

Most of you who know me or read this blog regularly know I'm no George W. Bush fan. But this does not necessarily make me his opponent. I certainly have my disagreements with him, but I expect I will have disagreements with any political candidate for any office, certainly for the president. I'll criticize Bush regularly, but I do so knowing that I probably couldn't do much better, wouldn't want the job in the first place, and generally respect his idiocy for wanting to be president in the first place.

Happily or not, George W. Bush is my president.

Back to the point. It really irritates me to see something so ignorant as "Gore Won" outside of the law school because, notwithstanding the obvious fact that he's sitting in the Oval Office right now, legally trained minds are better equipped to understand why Bush won better than anyone.

First of all, we have the Supreme Court Case, which I don't need to analyze at any length here. Federal elections fall under federal jurisdiction, meaning the United States Supreme Court is the voice of last resort on any matters of contention. If you're a lawyer, whether you believe the Court correctly awarded Bush the election or not, you recognize the absoluteness of the Court's ruling and dictate your legal expression accordingly. Your training takes over.

That's the easy part. The more exciting one is the implication of the sticker that because Gore carried the popular vote, he won the election. Obviously, the Constitution recognizes the possibility in the first place. You could make a reasonable argument that the Founders included the Electoral College system to take just a little bit of power out of the people's hands, maybe as a way of providing a little extra insurance against the danger of democracy that the people will choose a bad candidate for important office. I doubt whether these same Founders anticipated their future citizens making themselves look dumb by putting bumper stickers belying some ignorance as well, but that's a question for another time.

Furthermore, a legally trained mind will recognize that Gore's carrying the popular vote and losing the electoral college, aside from being Constitutionally permissible, is not at all a big deal, given that such an occurrence was not an issue of first impression in 2000. In 1876, Samuel Tilden carried the popular vote, but Rutherford B. Hayes ultimately garnered more votes in the Electoral College (though this came to pass through some interesting history, which is worth reading about here, if interested). The 1888 election between incumbent Grover Cleveland and challenger Benjamin Harrison provided a more bright-line precedent, with Cleveland blowing Harrison out in smaller states while narrowly losing states with more Electoral College votes to the challenger. A legally trained mind would recognize immediately that experience had already set a minor precedent to validate the mechanism of the Constitution.

The bumper sticker on the car seems to suggest that the vehicle's driver is either extremely pissed about spilled milk, doesn't know a damn thing about history and civics, and is just ignorant enough to think that such a statement, that Gore won, is either true or amusing.

It just depresses me. And not because I voted for Gore.

* * * *

What a shitty post. I had high hopes for this one when I started it. Oh well.