May the better statesman win

By Kevin J. Sweeney

Published November 13, 2000 8:19PM (EST)

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Kevin J. Sweeney's piece on statesmanship was dead on -- in a perfect universe. Current law, however, seems to preclude a revote, and we'd be two years into Bill Clinton's fourth term before all the details were agreed to and the courts had had their say.

An only slightly less-realistic alternative would be for one man to fall on his sword for the good of the country and concede the vote. Richard Nixon did it in '60. The loser of the popular vote in Florida should do it now.

-- Dave Nitchman

I suggest a variant on your very interesting idea: The call for a revote should be made now, before the recount and other challenges are done for, promising to do it whether or not the candidate is declared the winner.

Another possibility: Clinton, together with both candidates, makes a joint declaration asking for a new vote in the state of Florida (or at least in the dubious counties), right now, without need to go on with the recounting; perhaps with support by the Supreme Court. It would take the matter out of the realm of snippy politics.

-- A. M. Alier

Kevin Sweeney's article on the forgotten issue of statesmanship brings up what no other article in this maelstrom of press has bothered to: the issue of how the candidates might act if they were devoted to the democratic process and not the process of winning, if they were acting with integrity instead of acting on the consensus of the strategy team.

But maybe that's the problem: with Nader in folded-armed defensiveness, and Bush and Gore sending their legal troops to do battle over holes punched, maybe we weren't given the option this time of choosing a true statesman, one who would rather lose with honor than win at all costs.

-- Paul Ratliff

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