As we write (Tuesday, November 21, 3:00 p.m., EST), it is two weeks after Election Day, and still the United States has no president-elect. Perhaps by the time this issue of Commonweal is in your hands, we will-but then again, perhaps we won’t.
Should we worry?
The United States still has a president, who is enjoying his final lap around the track, but certainly able and willing to govern. There is no constitutional crisis. The republic has not crumbled. No rogue nation is causing immediate trouble, and no new wars have broken out. After initial jitters, the stock market goes its erratic way. The rest of the world is having a good laugh at the wildly divergent election practices and ballots of the greatest democratic nation in history. Let them laugh. Americans themselves seem to be calmly observing one of the most remarkable civic lessons in the nation’s history-"not since the eighth grade have I thought about the electoral college," reports a cheerful woman on CNN.
Only TV commentators and campaign apparatchiks are on the verge of hysteria, assuring one another that the American public is demanding closure-now! Not really. (Are the networks preparing the next headline "Constitutional Crisis," for mid-December? With or without a question mark?)
The phrase "permanent campaign" has taken on a new meaning: William Daley (for Gore) and James Baker (for Bush) in Florida should strike terror...