Symbols are reductionist in nature. When used to influence thought and behavior, symbols cause the receiver to hold critical faculties in abeyance. In politics symbols cause the viewer or listener (the receiver) to acquiesce and to submit to the overpowering and diminishing nature of the symbol. In the field of public-sector marketing, the manipulation of uniquely political symbols (words, ceremonies, objects, rituals) is emerging as an important subject for study. The manipulation of public symbols in the highly dramatized Florida recount case provides an important context for analyzing how public symbols were marketed to produce desired results. © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.