Friday, December 1, 2000

The beauty and the beast


By David Gewirtz

We publish this issue of PalmPower Magazine on the first day of December in the year 2000. On this very same day, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from attorneys representing the two men who would be king.

A man named Bush, son of George, grandson of Prescott, will somehow make the case that the hand counting of ballots is wrong, inaccurate, and even un-American. Machines, argues former Secretary of State James Baker, are far more accurate and far less biased.

At the very same time, Albert Gore (Junior), son of the former Senator, has sent his representatives to do battle in courts throughout the 27th state, the state of Florida. For he, also the son of an American leader, wishes to be President and lead this great land. Gore, too, is represented (and presumably advised) by a former Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.

How is it possible that these two men, these two leaders, both of political dynasties, both advised by America's then-foremost diplomats, are at such odds?

What is the beast that drives this signature event in American history? How can these men, who are arguably so similar, of similar ages, breeding, education, experience, and even socio-economic strata, be in a deadlock of such historic magnitude?

I believe the beast is in the similarity, not in the differences. Were these men radically different, one would have won. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were radically different. Kennedy took the crown. Ronald Wilson Reagan was radically different from James Earl Carter, Jr. And "Bubba" Bill Clinton, man-oh-man, was he a different cat from that old George Herbert Walker Bush, a walking advertisement for East Coast establishment.

These differences, magnified by the times, made it easy for us to choose our standard bearer. But neither Al nor young George has any polarizing effect, positive or negative. And so, rather than choosing a man, America is trying to choose an ideology. And in this split over ideology, over left and right, liberal and conservative, pro-choice and pro-life, social programs and fiscal conservatism, religious tolerance and religious righteousness, our way and their way, we have our battleground. A battleground so close that the winner of 537 pieces of card stock and perhaps another few thousand square paper droppings...actual bits...will determine the course of a government.