Echoes of Brutus
This is my 100th column since these pages have afforded me the opportunity to appear regularly. I cannot let the day pass without expressing the deep gratitude of an immigrant who has been granted a voice at a time when the future of America is at stake.
It so happens my first column in this series appeared the morning after the 1996 presidential elections, lamenting the absence of a campaign that would clearly define the two sides and thus have the potential to win.
This time, the choice was clearer but, apparently, still not clear enough. Come January 2001, the White House, as well as both chambers of Congress will be controlled by a razor-thin majority.
The potential for any number of unprecedented events and situations to unfold between now and December 18 - the day our new president will be elected by the Electoral College - is very real. If ever America needed to rely on the honor of its politicians, it will be during the next five or six weeks.
Our Founding Fathers sat through a long, hot summer to hammer out a Constitution that would stand the test of time. Having engaged in the most thoughtful consideration and deliberation of the human condition as recorded since the inception of time, they created a Representative Republic.
But Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. tells us that America is a "Democracy." And Mr. Gore is an honorable man.
Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the proposition that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. tells us the Constitution they created held that people with black skin were only three-fifths of a human being. And Mr. Gore is an honorable man.
When America was founded, for the first time in history, people were no longer bound by the circumstances of their birth. Millions since have gone from rags to riches, each generation able to do better than the previous one. Self reliance and hard work have resulted in steadily accumulating wealth, and increasing access to it, by a constantly growing number of Americans. Yet Mr. Gore speaks about wealthy Americans and working Americans as if the two were on opposite sides. And, as we know, Mr. Gore is an honorable man.
In the best tradition of American politics, the governor of Florida has recused himself from further involvement with the recount of votes in his state, since the outcome will determine whether or not his brother becomes president of the United States. But Mr. Bob Butterworth, Florida's Attorney General, who chairs Albert Gore Jr.'s presidential campaign in Florida, and who has to certify the results, has apparently not been instructed by Mr. Gore to do likewise.
Yet Mr. Gore is an honorable man.
Unless this nation remains one of genuinely honorable people, nothing will work. Not the jury system, not commerce, not government. The true measure of the looming crisis is the inescapable reality that our political life has become increasingly populated with people who appear unfamiliar with the concept of honor. Such people place the highest premium on acquiring power and will do what it takes to prevail. They are all around us now, and their shrill voices are growing bolder by the hour. Some, like Vice President Gore, still pay lip service to the Constitution, but most are blatantly advocating throwing it away if it serves their purpose. Their incessant references to "our Democracy" is code for getting rid of the Constitution.
It is sad to see the extent to which decent members of the Democratic Party fade into the background as the activists abandon all pretense. That is why - whatever the outcome - our highest priority must be an enhanced understanding of what our national debate is all about. What Governor George W. Bush delicately calls "a difference of opinion" is really the centuries-old debate within Western Civilization: Is the source of greatest benefit to the community the liberty, creativity, industry and honesty of the individuals who constitute it, or is the community best served by suppressing the individual and vesting power in a central authority?
As we know, America had chosen - and prospered by - the former, but by packaging it in terms of caring and compassion, the other side has been successful in advocating the latter. Only a grand national debate can clarify who is who, and what is what.
In the meantime, playing by the rules, as the Bush campaign is bending over backwards to do, may well cause the election to be stolen, unless the outrages of the other side are clearly identified as such. And not only those of politicians. For example, on Wednesday afternoon, Judy Woodruff, senior journalist of CNN, speaking of the farcical complaint of some voters from Palm Beach County about "confusing ballots," charged fraud. Those ballots, we are told, had been mailed to every voter well in advance. Ms. Woodruff's hysterical statements are buttressed by the equally hysterical antics of Repr. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, familiar since the impeachment hearings.
It is frightening to watch the spokesmen for the Gore campaign - all, all honorable men - preparing the ground for their assault on our constitutional system. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, another honorable man, has already arrived on the scene and, as usual, is demanding money to organize yet another protest. Others talk about the need to resolve the situation "in a fair manner." As we know, in the vocabulary Democrats have inherited from the socialists, "fair" replaces "lawful."
There is clear and present danger unless true honor returns to the political process on both sides of the isle.
My thanks to all who read these thoughts.
God bless America.