Pull Back from Partisanship
Friday, November 10, 2000 by Dave Winer.
Last night before signing off, I ran a survey on Scripting News.
I asked "Could you accept a President who you hate with a passion?"
Four choices were offered.
1. "Of course, I've done it before, and I can do it again.
2. "Of course, think of all the fun we can have ridiculing him.
3. "Of course, the worse he is the better. Just think of all the different candidates we'll have in 2004.
4. "No way, I'd be miserable for four years, I'd probably have to leave the country or kill myself."
Only 7 percent of the people responding to the survey as of 6AM Pacific felt they had to win this one. 93 percent kept their sense of perspective and humor and chose one of the Of Courses.
Like fans of a losing baseball team, like the Mets of Y2K, who I love, we all eventually have to accept things we can't stand. This is the best argument against partisanship. It's Murphy's Law combined with the Scripting News motto. Anything that can go wrong will, and it's even worse than it appears.
Any Bush supporter who hates Gore, or vice versa, if you stop and think about it, will realize that we can survive this. The path we're headed down leads to civil war. This is serious stuff. Ask anyone who lives in a struggling democracy. Now ask yourself whether you really want to throw all our cards in the air. Now's the time to think.
We survived Kennedy, who had a slim plurality. We survived Johnson who escalated the Vietnam War. We survived Nixon who was a criminal, and Carter who was weak. Reagan was an actor; and Clinton, a charming but selfish child.
We will survive this too, if we keep a sense of perspective.
People who should know better push buttons that they never should. Love your country Jesse Jackson. Even Jimmy Carter gave what appears to be a partisan speech. Some things *are* sacred. The time for partisanship is past. The presidency is not so valuable that it's worth sacrificing our political system to attain it.
Further, it's not at all clear who won the popular vote. There are still a few million votes to be counted. The popular vote is not done yet. And it wouldn't matter if one candidate won the presidency without winning the popular vote. The Constitution, which all US citizens live under, spells that out clearly. Apparently some voters don't understand that. This is an even more serious problem.
Today the NY Times said on its editorial page: "The sad reality is that ballot disputes and imperfections are a feature of every election. It will poison the political atmosphere if presidential elections, in particular, come to be seen as merely a starting point for litigation."
I agree. Of course there must have been other usability problems, not just in West Palm Beach or Florida. I bet if we look, some of those favor Gore. But let's not look. Grace demands that we get ready to move forward, to close ranks behind a new leader after the Florida counting process is complete, whether he is Gore or Bush.
That's why it's especially important that both Gore and Bush and their staffs stay above the unfortunate partisanship that is entering this process. We will need one of these men to be able to stand tall and say "I will lead you now." To Bush and Gore, please, don't damage that, even if you won't do it for yourself or your family, do it for your country. We only have two potential Next Presidents. Pull back from the partisanship.
PS: A programming analogy. We're in a critical section now, we need a semaphore that schedules partisanship until after the presidential choice is complete.