Sunday, November 12, 2000


Continental divide

        Wednesday morning dawned like the “white noise” between TV channels, shrouded in a fog that hugged the land like static cling.

        And when the mist lifted, I saw two nations, not one.

        The electoral vote map showed one nation, under Gore, out on the edges of the east and west coasts, and in a wedge like a wine cork at the top of the Mississippi River. The People's Republic of Gore includes the Northeastern states that have squiggly, Etch-a-Sketch borders, union Michigan and Sweden Minnesota, and the big banana, California. It's a
land of NPR, Barbra Streisand and Volvos.

        The other half of the country is Bush Nation: Talk radio, country music and pickups. It owns all the states with right-angle borders — the square part of America — in the Midwest, Southeast, South and West.

        The split of votes was equal, but the division of natural resources is not. Bush Nation owns most of the the land. But Goreistan occupies the big cities and controls our culture with powerful tools for spreading its more liberal ideology.

        Bush Nation still has half the votes. But the rest of its exports are no match for control of the culture. It produces taxes, soldiers for peacekeeping missions, food, football and soap. Otherwise, it is mostly ignored by Goreistan.

        These two nations don't share the same beliefs anymore.

        The left half of the nation reveres intellect and talent most, followed by government programs and diversity (not including diversity of opinion and speech.)

        In Bush Nation, the Gore voters who tilt the media and produce our music, TV and other kinds of “art” are viewed as unethical whiners who want to raise taxes, expand government and impose collectivist mass transit, socialized medicine and mandatory moral decay.

        One side lives in a kind of Metopia, where personal autonomy is a religion. Lying is no big deal, especially if it's only about sex. Exaggerations are fine too, as long as it's on their side. Truth is, well, a matter of opinion.

        The other half believes character still counts, but is growing cynical. Bush voters were far more likely to be families who attend church, who are bone-tired of the Clinton scandals. They believe truth is not taffy to be twisted and stretched in any direction. They still value individual responsibility.

        Metopians in Florida failed to read simple ballot instructions and voted for the wrong guy. Now they're marching in the streets for a “re-vote.” Bush Nation residents shake their heads in disgust and wonder how our presidential election has turned into the O.J. verdict.

        As Abraham Lincoln might have said, “A house divided against itself in a messy divorce cannot stand for long.” This election did not cause the fracture that divides us, it just exposed it under stress.

        I believe this will be remembered as the year of the retracted concession. Al Gore called George W. Bush to surrender, then called back to reverse it — while accusing Mr. Bush of getting “snippy.”

        Sure, he had not conceded in public yet. Anyone would be tempted to take it back. Mr. Bush probably would have done the same thing. But the way Mr. Gore handled it was condescending (“Let me explain it to you”) and graceless, with no dignity or humility. That's the kind of attitude that could provoke a fight to the finish over the election results and turn the presidency into a curse, not a blessing.

        That's how it looks in Bush Nation, waiting for the fog to lift.

        PeterxBronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.


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