Anna Quindlen, writing in Newsweek, called Election Day
2000: “The Longest Election Day.” “A leap of faith into the unknown is the essence of the
democratic process, but we’ve certainly overdone it this time around,”
she wrote. We expected the
results before eleven o’clock news.
We Americans are used to instant information gratification.
Since we’ve watched a war from beginning to end on the eleven
o'clock news, most of us expected that we could elect a president in less
time than it takes to put on and end a war.
For comics and pundits, the election was a watershed of material. If you missed Dan Rather’s election night's coverage, Time compiled a list of his Texas tongue-twisters. My personal favorites, “You can bet that they're smiling like a cat in a creamery down in Austin…” although Bush’s lead “is now shakier than cafeteria Jell-o” because “...close only counts with hand grenades and horseshoes…” while Gore's “back’s against the wall, his shirttail's on fire and the bill collector’s at the door.” Was he referring to those happy lawyers down in Florida whose bills are going to be astronomical when he wrote “...ugly enough, nasty enough to gag a buzzard?” For many Americans, the election was a lesson in civics. For many, it was surprising that the Electoral College elects the president and we elect delegates to the Electoral College. Welcome to the USA.
We learned some new words like “Chad” that can be pregnant and dimpled— perhaps at the same time. We were reminded why we place lawyers at the bottom of the list of admired professions, except, of course, when they are winning our case. Then we love them, put their faces on the front pages of news magazines, and are mesmerized by what they say when they join the talking-heads on TV.
Even the foreign press got into the act. The Times of India commented: “As with most American products, the battle for the White House showed the country’s flair for turning molehills into mountains.” Could that be why so many Indians have migrated to Silicon Valley?
Are the English still sore that they lost the colonies? The rag of Britain, the Mirror, pontificated: “The simplest thing might be for President Clinton to be asked to stay on for another four years. But the way things are in the States at the moment, the letter asking him to do that would probably get lost in the post.” This from a country that drives on the wrong side of the road and a “Royals” whose daily lives make the antics at Peyton Place-White House pale by comparison.
Yes, it was a nasty election fought out in courtrooms but without tanks in the streets. Nor was it a “banana-republic travesty,” the term applied to it by France’s Liberation. We were, after all, electing the leader of the free world. While the French may look down their Gallic noses at us, the reason they are able to do so is because we helped them regain that right. Today they could be eating Frankfurters made by slave labor rather than trashing Le McDonalds made in the USA.
We rose to the occasion of both World Wars. Now it is the time for us to come together as a nation and rise to the challenge of change and correct the ills that plague the most vibrant society the world has yet produced. While it may not be a perfect process, it has been an orderly transfer of power. No transition of leadership is any easy affair. Whether we agreed with the process or not, a new president will take office this month to expectations that are very low as to what he can accomplish. He won’t be the first or last to rise to the occasion of the Presidency or be humbled by it. As head of the government, he has an army of people to help him. We must have the “leap of faith” in our system of government that the transition will be good for our country.
The Congress alone has over 39,000 employees to help their transition of new leadership. If the Congress is reduced to two warring camps, then it will be a transition into four years of rancor. If that happens, we have the ultimate power to vote them out of office at the next election. For this election has proved something: Our vote does count but too many of us still think it doesn’t.
So let our prayer be that God will bless America with the leadership we need and let it be the one we got.
|Read other articles of Spiritual Enlightenment in the January 2001 edition of The Charismatics or return to the main menu by clicking here|