Why Gore Should Concede
By A. D. Freudenheim

27 November 2000

Why should you concede? The short answer, Mr. Vice President, is: let him have it.

You fought the good fight. You put in as much of an effort as you could to ensure that the votes were recounted properly and adequately - not to ensure that you would win in the end, but merely to ensure the vote's accuracy. You did what you could. Now, it is time to let Governor Bush have it. Those of us on the "left" will all be better off this way, for some fairly obvious reasons:

- Governor Bush will be leading the executive branch without a popular mandate to do so, and with the slimmest of Republican majorities in Congress. He has claimed before that his leadership in Texas has been based largely on his ability to secure fruitful cooperation between the Democrats and the Republicans. Now is his chance to prove what seems very much in doubt: that he has the ability to apply these leadership skills at the national level. By conceding now, you are offering Mr. Bush a fine opportunity to fall flat on his face; this is an opportunity that should not be overlooked.

- The Republican party sees Mr. Bush as a cipher; indeed, he is a cipher. So be it. The true powers within the Republican party are significantly more conservative than they have allowed Mr. Bush to convey, and significantly more greedy than they would like us all to believe. As these positions become more apparent with Bush in office, the likely result will be a revival of the Democratic party; in 2002, Democrats may even be able to take back control of both houses of Congress. President Clinton, for all of his brilliant political maneuvering, was not able to prevent the rise of the Congressional GOP after he tool office; there is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Bush will be more capable in this arena. By conceding now, you will be offering Congressional Democrats the chance to campaign on Bush's failures and not on yours.

- Conversely, by persisting in legal challenges at this stage, you harm not just yourself but the entire Democratic party. It is true that Mr. Bush will repeat President Hayes' grand act and win the presidency with the electoral college vote but without the popular vote - but as you know, our system allows for this, even if it does not seem to be the most fair or the most logical result. The Democratic party will nonetheless be better positioned to attack the opposition, at both the Federal and the state levels, if there is no suggestion that they were somehow involved with undermining the Constitutionally-approved process for electing a president.

- Democrats are upset about what a Bush presidency might do to the Supreme Court. This is a valid concern, but the view must be weighed against other areas of political power and control. Supreme Court justices have been known to act in unpredictable ways (unpredictable from the perspective of the President who selected them). Elected representatives - members of Congress, state governors - are far more predictable, and for now, perhaps far more valuable.

Finally, Mr. Vice President, let me offer you perhaps the least intellectual - but possibly most satisfying - reason why you should concede: the technical word for this is a German one, "schadenfreude," taking malicious delight in someone else's misery. Can you lead in this embittered environment? Would you want to? The next four years look like they will be miserable ones for the executive branch. I can think of no better recipient for the grief, the pain, the failure, and the loss of prestige than George W. Bush.

  Copyright 2000, by A. D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired!