In 2000, after weeks of battling the Republicans in Florida, Washington D.C., and the rest of America, the Democratic party - and Al Gore, decided to "get over it" and conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush. Gore's concession speech (video above) marked the end of this disputed contest, one which, evidence shows, was actually won by Gore.
Some heralded Gore's move as a sign of bravery, some saw it as a cowardly gesture of defeat. Few, however, could foresee the dreadful consequences that lie in store for our nation as its result. This concession marked the dawn of the Bush era, a president who's doctrine can best be summed up as "What are you going to do about it?" This concession by Gore set the political tone for the next decade, a tone that, unfortunately, still echoes today.
During the course of events that played out in Florida and across the nation in the fall of 2000, Gore supporters were told to let go, to face the "facts", and give up the fight. They were told to reconcile with the inevitable, stop whining, to get over it. In the interest of the nation,for the good of the whole, as it were, the Democrats conceded, handing Bush an illegitimate victory. And so the stage was set for the era of political capital, executive privilege, and a win at all costs ideology more suited for the gridiron than for the Oval Office. The United States, as a consequence, has suffered its most dreadful decade in a century, enduring untold and unforeseen hardship, all the result of a winner-take-all, loser-silently-step-aside mindset that has corrupted our most basic principles of democracy.
So after eight years of Bush's presidency, and the aforementioned woes that have plagued us, how does the Democratic party respond? By stealing a page from the Bush playbook to hijack the core elements of our democratic system, and exploit the intricacies of our electoral processes to install a candidate who's candidacy and rhetoric ring an eerily similar, albeit dis-tonal chord to that of George W. Bush and his followers.
Now, nearly eight years later, with the Democratic party convening "in unison" - all delegates seated and present - to nominate their candidate for the presidency, many are again being told to "get over it", to stop whining, to get with the program; and while the victor's supporters may be looking forward to possibilities of an America unrealized, there are those who have already seen a crucial element of the American anatomy dissected and discarded: the ideal that contends that there is no truth too difficult to comprehend, no honest vote that shall be left uncounted, no voice left unheard.
In a political system where victory is the ultimate prize, freedom shall be the first casualty. We, as Americans, must ensure that our democratic institutions are honored and protected, and not exploited, no matter the convenience presented by circumstance. Democracy is not the folly of the weak, the sport of the treacherous, nor a spoil for the victor. It is the voice of a people, the protector of decency, and the beacon of our nation.
Final popular vote results for the 2000 presidential election:
Gore - 50,999,897 Bush - 50,456,002
Electoral Votes: Disputed
Final popular vote results for the 2008 Democratic primaries, tallying the votes of all states and territories who's delegates are seated at the convention:
Clinton - 18,046,007 Obama - 17,869,542
Clinton has now played her part by conceding, and throwing her support behind Obama. Now, as was the case in 2000, the burden of unity falls to the victor. Obama must make every effort to heal the wounds caused by this bitter contest, no matter how superficial they may seem to his core supporters. As was pledged by George W. Bush in 2000, this task must be given the highest priority. Unlike Bush, Obama must carry this duty through to completion and unite the party that nominates him.
Our nation has been bruised, but has survived George W. Bush and his flagrant misuse of power. The Democratic Party is not strong enough to sustain a similar misstep from one of its own.