PILOT EDITORIAL: Word to the winner

Monday, November 20, 2000

The other might win by skillful manipulation of recounting and courts, but know that he was not chosen by the geographic bulk of the nation he represents.

Either will have to live for four years with the fact that they couldn't gain the confidence of even

50 percent of the voters. That's a message that doesn't seem to have sunk in for either of the combatants yet. At the moment, we have two men acting as if they have a birthright to the White House, trying their darndest to look and sound presidential, when you could make quite a case that neither has fully earned it.

Just perhaps, this could work to our advantage. The man who eventually fills the Oval Office seat, if he has any sense at all, will have to spend all of his energy demonstrating that he deserves the trust of the people for the job he has so narrowly made off with.

The smug political machines have been blown to pieces by this vote, a stark reminder of the power that is held by each voter. For all of the manipulations and speech-writers and photo ops, it seems that you still can't fool all of the people all of the time.

The people will have every leverage in the months to come to demand better than partisan political posing, power brokering, spin doctoring, and beltway business as usual.

"...We have left too much power to accumulate in the hands of too few people. Politics, designed to be

merely the way to get things done, has become an end in itself," the Fort Wayne, Indiana News-Sentinel reflected recently, and it is well said.

In his most private, introspective moments, the next president will have to admit to himself that he has not yet won the confidence of his people - not even half of his people. That should be a powerful motivator for change.

If he is able to raise service to a new level in seeking to prove worthy, a new level that can win win respect for the term "politics" as opposed to its current well-deserved connotation as a dirty word, only then will we be certain that it is he who deserves to be there.

Sidenote - Interestingly, we took an informal poll of readers on the Pilot's web site, and 66 percent of those responding said that the ballot should have a "none of the above" voting choice, as in used in some other areas of the world. This would give a truer picture of what people really think of their politicians, true, but we may want to be careful what we ask for...

So Much For the Ballot Controversy - A colleague of ours decided to see just how bad those infamous "butterfly" ballots of Palm Beach County, Florida, are.

He pulled the ballot off the internet - the one that supposedly confused so many Gore supporters into voting for Buchanan - and took them to the local school. "We went to fourth grade classes and instructed the students to vote for Gore-Lieberman," said John Walker, editor of our sister paper, the Big Springs Herald. "The final results? 96 percent of the fourth graders in our community were able to decipher the ballot." Hmmmmm...