Wednesday, December 13, 2000

We Have a President-Elect

We Have a President-Elect
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 13, 2000

“Our long national nightmare is over,” to borrow an expression made famous by former President Gerald R. Ford.

Gerald Ford uttered those words on August 9, 1974 after he took the oath of office to become president of the United States following the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

President Ford’s words are once again applicable, as the saga of Presidential Election 2000 has mercifully come to a conclusion. For better or worse, regardless of for whom we cast our votes, whether those votes were counted or not, Texas Governor George W. Bush has become president-elect and will be sworn in as this great nation’s 43rd president on January 20, 2001.

This evening both president-elect Bush and vice president Al Gore addressed the nation and each made poignant and cogent points.

The vice president was, at long last, gracious in concession, as well as relaxed. He even opened his brief remarks with a touch of humor, saying that he called Gov. Bush and would not do so again, alluding to the fateful election night phone call to concede and eventual retraction call.

Gore may not have repaired the damage to his own tattered political future, but he did begin the healing process by calling for his fellow Democrats and millions of supporters to join him in uniting the country behind the new president.

Gore did not concede sheepishly either. His words were chosen very carefully – congratulating Bush on becoming president – not on getting elected to the presidency. The vice president expressed his extreme displeasure with the decision made by the Supreme Court earlier this week, as well.

Vice president Gore offered to assist president-elect Bush in any he can and the two will meet face to face later this week to begin the transfer of power – a transfer that will take place as peacefully as it did 200 years ago when Thomas Jefferson defeated President John Adams – the first such transfer of power from one political party to another in the then young United States of America.

There are two points of irony associated with that transfer of power. The first is that the election of 1800 was sent to the House of Representatives, where after 36 ballots, Jefferson became president and the second place finisher, Aaron Burr became vice president. So embittered was John Adams that he refused to attend Jefferson’s inaugural.
The second point of irony is that John Adams was the father of our sixth president John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush is the son of the country’s 41 president, George Herbert Walker Bush – the only two father-son presidential combos.

Of note, William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, was grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president while Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president were cousins.

Less than an hour after the vice president spoke, president-elect Bush took to the airwaves speaking from the state capitol building in Austin, Texas. The Texas governor spoke eloquently – first addressing vice president Gore, before focusing on the future of the United States and the business of governing the country.

Bush outlined what some his goals for his administration will be. He spoke with dignity and alacrity and appeared presidential.

As bitter and contentious as this past month has been for so many Americans from either side of the aisle, the time has come to focus on the business of the country as a whole, move past the politics and look ahead to the governing.

A change in power is not a cause for alarm or panic. Alarm and panic is what drives the economy downward. As long as the citizens of this country continue to have faith in the system, the economy will continue to thrive.

This nation has just over three years until the New Hampshire primary in February 2004. During this time the Federal Elections Commission must take steps to revamp and nationalize the balloting system to ensure that the same problems never occur again. It can be done. (I have a plan to be outlined in another essay.) The nation votes as a whole only once every four years – for president – let’s get it right.

Let us also pray for the future of this great country, it’s leaders and its citizenry. Together we can rise above that which has divided us and forge ahead into the official new century and new millennium.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and G-d Bless America.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer living in Sterling, VA.