2000-11-29 / Editorials

Editorial

Acknowledge Election
Results And Move On

Acknowledge Election
Results And Move On

It's time to end the Florida farce. On Sunday, Katherine Harris, Florida secretary of state, officially certified the recounted votes in hand and declared Republican George W. Bush the winner of the popular vote and the 25 Electoral College votes resulting. Vice President Al Gore, the losing candidate, promptly announced his intention to file at least three legal actions contesting votes in separate Florida counties. On Monday night in a five-minute address on national television, Gore explained his actions by making himself out to be the guardian of the rights of the people. "Ignoring votes means ignoring democracy," he declared.

We see no evidence that votes have been ignored here. The recounts have taken place and appear to have been conducted fairly and reasonably.. The numbers seem to indicate that Gore might have picked up a few more votes here and there, but however the tally comes out, his Republican rival will still be ahead. No matter how narrow the margin, a popular vote is still a popular vote and the man with the most votes is still the winner. The deadline for the recount was Sunday at 5 p.m. Votes that were not counted by then, according to the rules governing the recount process, were not included. This, too, strikes us as entirely reasonable. Deadlines pervade our lives. If your winning contest entry isn't in by the deadline, you still lose. If you don't file your income tax return by midnight Apr. 15th without applying for an extension, you can expect the Internal Revenue Service to take note.

What's more, the presidency of the United States is of more moment than a contest for Scoutmaster. The longer this recount drags on, the greater America's loss of prestige for the rest of the world. An election that hinges on stray bits of confetti (the "chads" either punched out or left clinging to ballots in several counties) is unlikely to be taken very seriously by the international community. Nor can the United States expect to be asked to oversee too many other elections in other countries. When the next international crisis arises, as it inevitably must, how can the leaders of the world be expected to pay serious attention to a so-called superpower whose process of electing its leader has degenerated to low comedy?

This isn't the first time in American history a crucial vote has been closely contested. President Andrew Johnson missed being convicted on impeachment charges by one vote in the Senate in 1868. The 1960 presidential election was too close to call in several states; to his great credit, the losing candidate, Republican Richard Nixon, declined a recount even though it might have put him in office because he felt it was in the country's best interest to accept the numbers as they were. Would that today's contenders, especially Gore, were of a similar mind.

It's time to accept the results of the election as they are and go forward. A true statesman will concede the 2000 presidential contest and prepare for future elections. Ceaselessly prolonging the inevitable can only do harm to the country and dishonor to the protesting candidate. Bowing out gracefully is admirable. Whining like a two-year-old is childish.


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