Man. Was that an election night or what?

After waiting up most of Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning,
many Americans finally went to bed — only to discover that, when they
got up scant hours later, still no new president. Immediately my
thoughts flashed to another four years of Clinton-Gore, but better sense
overcame my usually conspiratorial nature.

Too bad; in book form the conspiracy would sell better.

Anyway, Texas Gov. George W. Bush had his victory snatched away by
Florida — a state his Florida governor-brother Jeb had “promised to
deliver,” like it was a postal package or something.

As it turns out, Jeb indeed may have “delivered” Florida to his older
brother, although battered, broken and bruised like most postal packages
end up by the time they arrive.

What are Americans to make of this election, now that the campaign
coffers have been exhausted and the rhetoric has died down?

Here’s what I make of it. The fact that the 2000 presidential race
was so evenly divided, so bitterly contested was, to me, a sign
that we traditionalists still have our work cut out for us.

Even though Mr. Bush appears to have been victorious — and
Republicans are generally thought of as the party of smaller government,
right, wrong, or indifferent — there is no proof a Bush administration
will instantly transform the White House and Capitol Hill into a bastion
of post-Revolutionary constitutionalists.

For one thing, such an act would require a much larger tax cut than
even Mr. Bush wants to give.

But this election — a real nail-biter. And for what?

True, half of those who voted chose Gov. Bush.

But half didn’t; half chose Vice President Al Gore, who — as
a leftist — openly admitted wanting to grow the federal government,
though he didn’t “admit it” in as many words. Given all his new programs
and spending, it was only logical to conclude that the federal
government would grow under a Gore administration, just as it had
under a Clinton administration.

What I can’t figure out is why Americans — two-income, overworked,
underpaid, under-insured, tired, frustrated, trying-to-raise-the-kids
Americans would vote for any moron who even hinted that he or she
wanted to grow government.

Is it just not possible for these people to figure out that more
government equals a harder way of life and a tougher time making ends
meet at home?

Is it that difficult for so many Americans to understand that,
regardless of what a politician promises, it cannot be delivered for
free — that someone who works has to cough up the dough
to fund the program, benefit or other largess. And that “someone” is
usually a voter who, inexplicably, cast a ballot for somebody vowing to
make his or her life tougher.

Hard to fathom such ignorance and lack of understanding of how this
all works. I’m a media guy, but I blame my cohorts mostly for failing to
ask the tough questions that would require politicians to escape the
spin zones and fully explain what it is they’re usually trying to
shovel. Questions that I, as a media guy, would ask if I had the access
my brethren have or have asked when — on those rare occasions — I get
the chance.

Why am I so worried? We had our election. No one died. No fighting in
the streets. Winners were declared not “appointed.” What’s the problem?

The problem is this. Though a generally honest guy (Bush) ran a
campaign based on reducing the real (not imagined) burdens Washington
places on real, working Americans, only 49 percent voting chose him.

Forty-nine percent.

That means over half of us have no idea of the limitless benefits
smaller, cheaper, and less intrusive government could mean in our lives.
No idea.

And that doesn’t bode well for traditionalists and true, genuine
lovers of freedom.

As Mel Gibson’s historical character, Sir William Wallace, proclaimed
in the hit 1995 movie, “Braveheart,” Americans don’t realize their
“God-given right to something better” than having to toil day in, day
out for an expensive, overbearing, oppressive, unresponsive, inefficient
and chronically bloated federal machine.

Despite the glimmer of hope I see in a Bush win, Americans who thirst
for true freedom still have a long row to hoe.

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