Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Bush won election — so get over it

By David Shapiro

There are fair reasons to criticize President Bush and his war in Iraq, but it's becoming tiresome to hear opponents still question the legitimacy of the Bush presidency because of long-settled legal disputes surrounding his razor-thin victory over Al Gore in 2000.

The president's authority to govern was challenged most recently by film director Michael Moore in his tirade against Bush at the Academy Awards. It has been a constant refrain of the anti-war movement to plant the idea that Bush somehow stole the election and lacks the mandate to speak for America.

It's a false and destructive notion. Bush won as fair and square as we were able to get it under the terms of our Constitution. It's long past time the president's critics get over it, as Gore did, and accept that Bush has every right to the full authority of his office. If opponents don't like the job he's doing, they'll have another shot at him in less than two years.

Our country was founded on the political premise that you win some, you lose some, you accept the election results and you come back to fight another day.

If we petulantly ignore election results and refuse our elected leaders legitimacy, the political processes that have bonded our country so well for more than 200 years inevitably will break apart and have chaotic consequence.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, Hawai'i's newest member of Congress, already is alarmed by the political polarization in Washington, with the two parties finding little common ground from which they can work together for the common good.

Bush has brought some of the division on himself. "You're either with us or against us," he says of his war on terrorism, clearly targeting domestic critics as well as foreign adversaries.

And the president's supporters hardly hold the high moral ground on the matter. Conservatives refused for eight years to accept the legitimacy of Bill Clinton's presidency despite his two landslide victories. They sought to undo his election with never-ending investigations intended to tie his hands and run him from office.

Sulky refusal to accept election results is damaging to the country no matter which side of the political spectrum it comes from.

There are no valid reasons to question the legitimacy of the Bush presidency.

Yes, Bush lost the popular vote to Gore, but we always knew that could happen under the Electoral College system and chose not to change it — and continue not to change it.

Yes, they printed some funny-looking ballots in Florida and had some funny ways of running their voting, but Democrats had ample opportunity to challenge ballot design and voting procedures before the election. They were simply asleep at the wheel.

Yes, the Supreme Court decision that handed Bush the election could have just as easily gone the other way, but the court was within its constitutional rights to rule as it did.

We forget that Gore really didn't lose the election in Florida, but in his home state of Tennessee. If Gore hadn't been one of the rare presidential candidates to be trounced in his home state, he would have had the election sewn up long before the Florida votes were counted.

You can't feel too sorry for a candidate who couldn't win the confidence of the voters who knew him best.

We can argue about whether Bush is a good president, but we can't say he's not our president. A lost election is for four years. Lost regard for our electoral process can be forever.

David Shapiro can be reached at dave@volcanicash.net.