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Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2000 /1 Kislev, 5761

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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Consumer Reports

One more theory on the unending election --
EVERYONE ELSE is floating theories on the meaning of the election that will not end. Here is mine.

What we are seeing in our politics is the predictable result of what occurs when institutions, philosophies and faiths that once united us have either died or have been so co-opted by other considerations that when they're most needed they lack the power to come to our rescue.

Take truth, for example. Americans have always disagreed on what the truth of some things might be, but mostly we agreed on substantive things and we believed that truth exists. Our privilege in a free society was to try to find it. Today, to even suggest one knows what truth is, or where it may be found, risks ostracism and condemnation by certain elites who are determined to advance their own concepts of truth, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge there is such a thing.

Education once taught universal truths, including the pre-eminence of the American way of life, honesty, hard work, values that did not conflict with what was mostly lived out at home, personal responsibility, knowledge and wisdom. Today's government schools serve as laboratories and training grounds for a self-centered view of Man and indoctrination centers for people who would promote ideologies and behaviors that were once believed to be the antitheses of truth.

Religion once was seen as a positive contributor to individual virtue and national honor. It has now been co-opted by politicians and clergy of the left and right. Some on the left would use religion to advance a social agenda underwritten by the taxes of all. They want its authority, but not its content. Some on the right use religion to advance a moral agenda through government edict, which they have decided is quicker (and more financially appealing and ego-fulfilling) than the selfless ways of the leader they claim to follow. To many of them, the way of the ballot box and the bank is to be preferred to the way of the cross.

The law has been disrespected, not only by the Clinton-Gore Administration, but also by many citizens, who now see it as just one more prize, which can be claimed if the machinations and manipulations of one side outfox and overpower the machinations and manipulations of one's opponents.

Responsibility to the whole has been replaced by demands for the individual. Race, class, gender, sexuality, income, politics and personal interests divide us. Instead of being united because of a shared belief in the American way of life, we undermine ourselves through our determination to have our own way even if by having it we destroy the nation our Founders designed to protect us from the evils of individualism.

Our Founders were men of strong conviction. They disagreed about many things, but in forming this "more perfect union,'' they subordinated some of their individual beliefs for the greater good. Today we are seeing the opposite. People want their own way, regardless of the damage caused to the greater good and to the strength of the nation itself. That's why the Gore campaign vows to fight on regardless of the certified results in Florida that affirm George W. Bush the winner of that state's 25 electoral votes and the election.

Writing in The Times of London on November 20, opinion writer William Rees-Mogg contends that whether George W. Bush or Al Gore is victorious, "America is the loser.'' Rees-Mogg believes neither candidate looks big enough or powerful enough to overcome what he sees as three challenges: "a bitterly disputed election, a hostile Congress and the downturn of the economic cycle.'' Rees-Mogg contends the age of the "imperial presidency'' has passed and that Bush may be the better choice because "he is more modest in his ambitions.'' Indeed, the presidency has been overrated by too many of us who have tried to imbue it with powers it should not and does not have and rob it of powers that belong to that office.

Still, leadership reflects followership, and in what's left of our Constitutional Republic, the fault, to paraphrase Shakespeare's peroration in "Julius Caesar,'' does not lie in our leaders, but in ourselves.

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