BUSH HAS WON Florida. But the Gore team fights on. For the first time in our history, Americans face the possibility that the president we elected may not be allowed to serve.
The question is: What are we going to do about it?
If you’re like most Americans, you probably shared your Thanksgiving table with at least one or two Gore supporters, maybe more.
Perhaps you tried arguing with them. But of course they wouldn’t listen.
Why should they? The talking hairstyles on CNN have told them that Gore’s machinations are perfectly normal and legal. And so they believe it.
It is time to stop arguing with people who think that way. It is time to gird ourselves for action.
Like most Americans, I was taught that the Germans were fools to follow Hitler. Popular films such as The Sound of Music reinforced this view. The bad guys were conveniently marked with swastika armbands and evil leers on their faces. Like most Americans, I concluded that no one with half a brain could have fallen for Hitler’s cant.
But real life is not like the movies. A lot of decent, intelligent Germans supported Hitler - people not unlike our friends and relatives who now support Al Gore.
Not long ago, I watched a television interview of Leni Riefenstahl, the filmmaker whose propaganda epics Olympia and Triumph of the Will helped build Hitler’s following.
The interviewer asked her why she had lent her talents to the Nazi cause.
I don’t remember Riefenstahl’s exact words, but she said something like, “It is easy in hindsight to know that Hitler was evil. But it was not so easy for people at the time, who had no way of knowing what the future would bring. Even today, how do we really know which of our politicians will lead us to a better future?”
Riefenstahl’s critics have never accepted this sort of answer. They insist that she should have known better. And, of course, she should have. Yet, she still had a point.
When Hitler annexed the Sudetenland in 1938, every radio broadcast and newspaper in Germany reported that it was the Czechs who were trying to pick a fight with Germany, not the other way around.
When Hitler attacked Poland in 1939, the German press reported that it was the Poles, not the Germans, who had attacked first.
There was no Internet, no Fox News, no Drudge Report in Germany then to give the dissident view. Even so, I’ll bet plenty of Germans argued over their dinner tables, “The press is lying. Hitler is starting a war over nothing.”
“Nonsense!” their friends and relatives shouted back. “Don’t be so cynical. Our government would never start a war without a good reason.”
And so the arguments raged. Endlessly. Pointlessly. Irresolvably. Just like the arguments we Americans are having today over the vote count in Florida.
The Nazi press confused people by charging Hitler’s opponents with every crime that Hitler himself committed.
Our press plays the same trick, faulting “both sides” for this election crisis, even as massive evidence of Democrat vote fraud mounts.
Leni Riefenstahl was correct, in one regard. It is not so easy to pick the right side. There is no crystal ball to tell us whom to follow or whom to believe.
Each of us must make that choice alone, in the solitude of his own heart. I have made it for myself. And you, gentle reader, have no doubt made it too.
When our forefathers faced a similar choice in 1776, many chose the wrong side. Some chose no side at all. But a brave few stood and fought for liberty.
Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman… Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and repulse it."
This weekend, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, in every major city. Some fearful voices cried, "mob rule!" Fainter hearts, on both sides of the political divide, called for restraint.
But restraint is no virtue when freedom hangs in the balance. Republicans and Democrats alike must accept that the time for talk has ended.
Now we will see who has the courage to prevail.