Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Political Writer
Last Tuesday we pledged allegiance to our presidential preferences and woke up Wednesday one nation divided.
Divided, if not neatly, evenly.
Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore both captured the support of 48 percent of voters, if not their hearts.
Divided along gender, racial and class lines. Divided between urban and rural as well, national voter exit polls showed.
If you're a man, you were more likely to vote for Bush - 53 percent did. If you're a woman, you were more likely to vote for Gore - 54 percent did.
If you make less than $50,000 a year, you tilted toward Gore. If you make more than $50,000, you leaned toward Bush.
And if you're black or Hispanic, you probably voted for Gore. If you're white, Bush probably was your presidential pick, according to exit polls by Voter News Service.
Divided, but the divisions are not new. Some, like race, have been around for decades, while others, like gender, are more recent developments.
What is new, however, is the way the nation's divisions collided and gave us a delicate counterbalance, leaving Bush and Gore each hanging off the political precipice by one hand, both fearful the tiniest movement will send them tumbling down into the electoral abyss.
Divided, yes, but not angry at each other - outside of a couple hundred dueling protesters in Florida. The nation holds its collective breath, exhaling only to share the latest bits of presidential election information while gathered around the office's bottled water dispenser.
Divided, and these divisions could stamp our collective consciousness for the next four years - from how we view each other to how we view whoever becomes our next president. For now, it appears, we are divided, but far from split apart.
The Arlington Heights home of Harvey and Lora Colquhoun is a house divided. It, however, has not fallen.
Harvey voted for Gore. Lora voted for Bush.
"I try to send her to Europe every four years," says Harvey, a retired 78-year-old chief mechanical engineer.
"I like to stay here and cancel his vote out," says Lora, 68, who has been a doctor's office manager for 41 years. "He thinks I'm nuts and I think he's nuts."
Still, the Colquhouns say they aren't arguing about the election. They're intrigued by the suspense Bush and Gore have created.
The same holds true in Buffalo Grove, where Ed and Audrey Youngman canceled each other out, he for Bush, she for Gore. The fine china, however, remains intact.
"It drives him crazy," says Audrey, a 64-year-old retired librarian who has voted Democratic since 1960. "We've been watching a lot on TV. But we have not really discussed it with each other because we just don't agree."
Neither couple has lost their faith in the democratic process, despite the current stress test it's under.
"At this point, it's still kind of disbelief we're still in this situation," says Ed Youngman, a retired 63-year-old manager at a Fortune 500 company. "But I truly feel this is going to get resolved fairly and correctly, whoever wins it."
All four say they'd like some type of resolution soon.
"I think the country is in an absolute stranglehold," Harvey says. "There's no consensus on anything."
For now, this presidential problem is generating more amazement than anger. America loves nothing more than competition and a good story, and the presidential election quickly has entered the realm of ubiquity previously reserved for O.J. Simpson, Princess Diana and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
And if it causes people to think back to their high school civics classes or crack open dusty textbooks, all the better, says former Illinois U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, a Makanda Democrat.
"A good illustration comes from a student …