Lessons For Today From A Historic Divide

18 years ago this week, America voted for Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore. The result was virtually a tie, and the five ensuing weeks of legal battles were confusing and sometimes ugly.

Always remember this: We were able to settle this dispute without tanks rolling through the streets, shots being fired, or blood being shed. The result will always be controversial, but we were able to resolve it with a process rather than a war.

In retrospect, both Al Gore and George W. Bush deserve a lot of credit for how they carried themselves during this time and after. I hope that every elected leader might think about the concession and acceptance speech that those two men gave in the year 2000.

Vice President Gore: "President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities. I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans - I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president."

President Bush: "I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect. I will be guided by president Jefferson's sense of purpose: to stand for principle, to be reasonable in manner, and, above all, to do great good for the cause of freedom and harmony. The presidency is more than an honour, it is more than an office. It is a charge to keep, and I will give it my all. Thank you very much, and God bless America."

Bob Hammitt is a high school Social Studies teacher from Canby, Oregon who draws on his knowledge and love of history to teach valuable lessons for our present and future.

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