The US Declaration of Independence states that 'Governments ... derive their
just powers from the consent of the governed'. The consent that George W
Bush has obtained is that of five judges of the US Supreme Court. Their
verdict on the Florida recount means that no one will ever know for sure if
Bush also obtained the consent of the people.
A court ruling ordering a new recount would have delivered certainty, and
legitimacy, to the presidential election result. Both the candidates and the
American people would have benefited from this outcome.
Regardless of the
result of the recount, the fact that it was undertaken at all would have
prevented the feelings of disenfranchisement experienced by some voters. If,
after this recount, Bush had retained his lead, the thoroughness of the
process which lead to this result would have enabled him to claim some form
of legitimate mandate to govern. It would also have served to quieten the
allegations of electoral fraud surrounding the Florida outcome. A new
recount would have provided a definitive election result, relieving Al Gore
and indeed the world from eternally wondering, 'What if?'