Florida’s certification hints it’s time to move on now

It’s just about over.

George W. Bush has moved an immense step closer to leading the nation as president. His certification as the winner of Florida’s election — carried out in compliance with a Florida Supreme Court order won by the Gore campaign — was an important moment. For all Americans, the prospect of new leadership has come more clearly into focus.

If a new survey is correct, most Americans, in fact, are ready to accept Gov. Bush as the winner of the presidential election. The country has waited patiently. Properly, there’s a growing sense that the issue has been decided or, at the very least, is finally headed toward resolution.

Given the historic closeness of the voting, though, there’s room for legitimate debate on whether the results are final or not. Vice President Al Gore has chosen to pursue an aggressive legal battle to win the critical Florida electoral votes. Having lost in Florida, he is now contesting the election.

Up to now, the Gore strategy has been legitimate. The electoral and legal institutions have handled the difficulties well enough to make most Americans proud. If the shoe were on the other foot, moreover, the Republican side almost certainly would have been equally aggressive. Indeed, Gov. Bush’s legal team has been quick to seek federal court intervention. So there’s no shame in the Democrat’s strong pursuit of their available legal options.

Yet, contrary to what Democratic running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Sunday, the Gore campaign does have a choice. It could decide to abandon its hot-pursuit policy — now or at any time. In fact, it would be arrogant of the Democratic leadership to keep pursuing this battle without more self-examination than it has exhibited so far.

Primarily, Democrats need to ask themselves how perfect an election result they will accept. Certainly, it’s unfortunate that Palm Beach County’s butterfly ballot confused some voters. And it’s frustrating that the court-ordered manual recount of Palm Beach votes wasn’t included in Florida’s certified results. Yet the Gore campaign should ask itself what the nation can do when a Democrat designs a ballot poorly and voters don’t make sure that they have voted properly. And what, for heaven’s sake, are the Florida justices to do when they gave the county extra time to complete a hand recount but the Democratic elections officials finished two hours too late — after having decided to take Thanksgiving off?

The Democrats, of course, can point to endless small problems that might add up to victory. In such a close election, though, the questions run just as numerously the other way.

Eventually, the questions will be resolved. Whether the answers finally come from the courts, the Florida legislature, the Electoral College or Congress, Americans can be proud that we will resolve the presidential election peacefully and legally. And then we will move on. If that comes soon rather than later, so much the better.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

File - A teenager holds her phone as she sits for a portrait near her home in Illinois, on Friday, March 24, 2023. The U.S. Surgeon General is warning there is not enough evidence to show that social media is safe for young people — and is calling on tech companies, parents and caregivers to take "immediate action to protect kids now." (AP Photo Erin Hooley, File)
Editorial: Warning label on social media not enough for kids

The U.S. surgeon general has outlined tasks for parents, officials and social media companies.

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, May 28

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Forum: Especially at time of peace, U.S. must honor its fallen

As diplomacy takes precedence over military action, Memorial Day reminds us of our duty to history.

Comment: Federal student loan repayments need reforms

With repayments resuming soon, borrowers and the government need to prepare income-based plans.

Comment: Veterans struggling with addiction need our support

Connect veterans with the services they need through encouragement, understanding and advocacy.

President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., to discuss the debt limit in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 22, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Comment: A brief history of risks and outcomes of debt crises

Past debt ceiling and budget crises in 1995, 2011 and 2013 offer perspective on the current situation.

Comment: Hospice care isn’t giving up; it’s a gift of time, love

End-of-life care offers patients and families comfort, better quality of life and time to say goodbye.

Comment: State, local libraries rebuilding lives after prison

For those leaving prison, a library card is key to starting again. A new program offers that key.

Most Read