United Yet Divided

By Blankley, Tony | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

United Yet Divided


Blankley, Tony, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


It is curious that the recent election has caused us to see a nation divided. Granted, we are divided almost exactly evenly between Bush and Gore voters. The famous red and blue election night map shows us divided geographically between city and country, between the coasts (and Great Lakes region) and the rest.

And, of course, at the moment we are fairly evenly divided between those who think Al Gore is trying to steal the election and those who see nothing untoward about his post-election conduct.

But many of these divisions are more apparent than real. While Mr. Gore won the cities and Mr. Bush won the countryside vote, still millions of city folk voted for Mr. Bush while millions of country people voted for Mr. Gore. Likewise, Mr. Gore got his share of National Rifle Association members, while Mr. Bush was competitive in union households. Wherever we live, probably three or four out of 10 of our neighbors voted for the other guy. How separating can such a divide be?

Overall, this is not a moment when the country is fiercely divided by great political issues. Both Messrs. Bush and Gore want to subsidize the cost of prescription drugs and cut taxes; they merely haggle over whether the programs should be big or bigger. They both say they want a strong defense, free trade and a firm American role in the world. The great fights of the last and next political seasons focus on the enviable question of how to divvy up the surplus booty. The time-tested political answer will be: split the difference.

So why do we feel so violently divided? Why are so many people almost physically ill when they think about this election? Most elections, even close ones, give us at least a temporary sense of coming together through a fair decision process. In 1992 Bill Clinton only got 42 percent of the vote. But by Christmas more than 80 percent of the public was wishing him well in his new presidency; it's the American way.

But if Mr. Gore should gain the presidency at least half of the country will be hard-pressed to conjure up a patriotic thought on his behalf - and will profoundly resent Americans who can. Other elections have been stolen. After the fact, Jack Kennedy used to joke (and most people laughed along with him) that his dad bought him a victory, but not a landslide. …

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