We are now one year removed from the surreal pandemonium that was the 2000 presidential election and the system is still intact. Animosities have been largely forgotten and legitimacy is unquestioned.
The political arena is certainly an altered one this election season. The partisan tone has softened and that is both a little bit refreshing and a little bit phony. Make no mistake, candidates still harbor the same bitterness towards their opponents. They just now recognize that character assassination and personal destruction are petty and non-material. ( Don’t fear bottom feeders , we’ll be back looking through garbage cans by the new year.)
The system, however, has survived. Through the unmitigated madness of an unprecedented election of confusion, despair, and partisanship and an act of pure malevolence perpetrated within our own supposedly indomitable borders. The system has survived, uncompromised and unafraid.
There has been no shadow presidency, as some had suggested. Al Gore, that now bearded philosopher with an uncomfortable demeanor and a penchant for hyperbole, has faded into relative obscurity – as his duty dictates. It should be said that Gore, whether one subscribes to his political theory or not, ran for president for the right reasons. He is a devoted public servant, his only goal was improving society, his only fault was an acute lack of charisma, a killer in the age of television.
He is undoubtedly itching to aid his government in crisis, but his humility and sense of history prevent his superfluous voice.
I did not vote for George W. Bush and I do not share his vision of America, but I have come to respect his motivations. In the first year of presidency, he has been tested like no other, save Truman, and his will is strong. He has both pounded his fist in anger and taken deep breaths of restraint – all the time ready- all the time trying. I still disagree with the majority of his policy, but I am convinced that it is decided by a personal conviction and not special interest. I have no scientific reason for this assumption, there is just something in the way he furrows his brow and scrunches his forehead that convinces me of the presence of a vulnerable humanity.
I thought simply that Bush would ruin the country, but this was a unique naive. No one man can ruin this country, it is the beauty of the system of checks and balances. Gridlock is security. Outside of mass hysteria, radical, nation-crumbling policy can never become law.
Bush was undeserving of such lofty opportunity, but he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last undeserving official. He didn’t ask for privilege, but it is now his job to extend privilege to the largest possible number of people. So “Give ’em Hell, Sir. You’re my President too.”