On November 2, 2004, the United States of America held its four-year ritual of a Presidential Election. The incumbent, Republican President George W. Bush and his opponent, Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and a few others had campaigned vigorously for several months, debated the issues, and called each other the requisite amount of names. Now it was up to the American people.
The media and others called this year's election the most important election of our generation, if not ever. The people appeared to agree. According to most counts, about 120 million people went to the polls to decide who should run the county for the next four years. Long lines, a few poll snafus, and potential voter challengers were awaiting the decision makers.
As we all know by now, President Bush will indeed be our president for four more years. I voted for Senator Kerry, but I'm not here to express my political views, not today anyway. I'm here to congratulate George Bush AND John Kerry for a hard-fought campaign that ended just one day after the election.
Of course, the election was very close, albeit not as much as in 2000. Both campaigns were fooled by the exit polls, which turned out to be mostly wrong. In the end, however, despite the urgings of some, Senator Kerry conceded the election when it was all assured the Ohio was lost. Sure, every vote had not been counted. Sure, mathematically he had a very outside shot. But he did the right thing. He didn't like it, but he knew that he had been beaten. The people had spoken. He had not given up, he had waited the night to be sure that Ohio would go to Bush. He called President Bush and congratulated him on his victory, and later gave a heartfelt speech. The major news services have video and transcripts, so check it out. This man wanted to lead us. No flip-flop there. He believed, right or wrong, that his ideas were best. He was also able to stand up and take his lumps once the other guy won.
For President Bush's part, he didn't gloat. Sure, he was confident. Sure, he was elated. I'm sure he wanted to do a little dance. But he didn't. He stepped up to the podium, confirmed as our country's leader for a second term, and gave credit to his opposition. He stated that he wants everyone's support. He was gracious; he was humble; he was grateful. You see, this man knew in his heart that he was beaten when he saw exit poll numbers. Of course, he didn't waver, because like it or not, that's not his style. He stood tall, proud, and waited to see. I believe that President Bush will be a better president this time around. Sure, he'll say things and do things that are completely against some lines of thinking. Sure, he'll stick by what he says even if he's wrong. But this man wants to lead us. He wants for the entire country, not just those of the Republican sect, to support him. The chip from 2000 is dangling from the shoulder, threatening to fall off, and this president - same but different - will do better this time. He has to - not for us (although we need him to), but for himself.
President Bush, you didn't get my vote, but you have my support. I want the next four years to be one where we come together as a country, and can respect everyone's ideas, even if we don't agree with them. That's what makes this country great.
As for the election, it was important, yes, but it wasn't a repeat of 2000. It was more normal, and now we can all agree that we have a president who we elected. The system worked this time, and 2000 can be what we all hoped it was, an anomaly that we can prevent.