At long last, the election that wouldn't end finally concluded Wednesday as Vice President Al Gore conceded to Texas Gov. George W. Bush in a televised address.
Thirty-six days after the polls closed, Americans had long since grown weary of the legal wranglings, political rhetoric and detailed discussion of hanging and pregnant chads.
Election 2000 will go down in the history books for its length and its razor-thin margin. The statistical probability that two candidates will ever split the vote so evenly again is highly unlikely.
There surely will be a nation-wide drive to improve the technology we use in our elections. Enterprising federal lawmakers should provide some funding for states that want to upgrade their voting systems. We can only hope that Florida and any other states that still allow punch card voting systems will throw them out of the nearest window.
Legal scholars will debate the Supreme Court's final decision in this election for years to come. From our non-attorney perspective it's difficult to assess the legal points of the ruling, but it made good political sense.
Time had run out for Al Gore. Talk of making every vote count is fine, but there comes a point when election officials and the judiciary have to go with the best reflection of the people's will that is available and declare a winner. This election had to be concluded. To have extended the fight beyond Tuesday would have certainly tossed the decision into an extremely partisan Congress and truly provoked a constitutional crisis.
Our next president, George W. Bush, will face a daunting task as the first person to move into the White House without a plurality of the popular vote in more than 100 years. He will work with a House and Senate that will be controlled by Republicans, but only by the thinnest of margins.
The questions about the legitimacy of his election are likely to dissipate as soon as he places his hand on the Bible on Jan. 20. Even if some unofficial vote-counters later contend that Gore actually won Florida, there won't be any rioting in the streets.
America has only one president. Its citizens might argue vehemently about that choice but they want a leader. They want resolution of this matter.
That's what Tuesday's Supreme Court decision and Gore's concession speech gave America. It's a welcome Christmas gift.
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