Living in Society Writing

Bush v Gore

Lake Macbride State Park, Dec. 21, 2020.

Al Gore conceded the Nov. 7, 2000 general election on Dec. 13. It was close, and as we know, it came down to a hand count of ballots in Florida which the U.S. Supreme Court stopped. While Gore won more popular votes than George W. Bush, he lost the electoral college. It was unlike anything I remembered in presidential politics. For weeks I printed out briefs filed in the court case at home and read them all.

I emailed a friend a couple of days after the election while on a business trip to Chicago:

11/9/00 8:35:57 PM
Got your note…what an election. I left the house at about 7:10PM and drove to Princeton, IL, listening to the returns coming in. I stopped at the Days Inn (trying to be closer to Chicago for my early morning meeting Wednesday), and stayed up until after midnight watching CNN and their commentary.
Whoever it is that gets elected is going to have a bear of a time making anything happen. I do not look forward to the next year or two.

Email to Dan Czolgosz, Nov. 9, 2000.

I had hope there would be some redeeming qualities about Bush. Such hope was reinforced by his inaugural address.

I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America’s leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.

We have a place, all of us, in a long story — a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.

It is the American story–a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.

The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.

George W. Bush Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 2001.

Following a brief period of support which lasted until after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush lost me.

The point I would make about the election today is the winning margin in Florida was close, yet the closeness of the race did not make it too difficult for Bush to govern. Whatever support Bush had from the opposition, he squandered it in his reaction to the terrorist attacks and in the invasion of Iraq. Lack of a majority constituency was insufficient constraint to furtherance of Republican goals.

Al Gore’s 2000 loss and the Bush administration’s actions radicalized me to get involved in party politics again. I would no longer take politics for granted. The story about my radicalization unfolded during each of the next ten election cycles.