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Outside U.S. Supreme Court. AP Photo/Hillery Smith Garrison

And the winner is...
... not George W. Bush. But it ain't the end of the world

December 14, 2000
The Iranian

The absurdity of it all. The United States, the cradle of democracy, has elected a president who has received fewer votes than his rival. Worse still, the election was decided by an incomplete vote count.

Yes. George W. Bush won. But this is a hollow victory at best.

The issue is not that a Republican defeated a Democrat. What's deeply troubling is not Al Gore's loss at all. The issue is that what happened to him could happen to any candidate. He was denied the right to count how many people actually voted for him. And the nation was robbed of a legitimate president.

As odd as it sounds, the United States could learn a thing or two from other nations, even those as far from a true democracy as Iran, about the sanctity of people's vote. Elections should be determined by the majority of ALL the people's votes. Plain and simple.

But there is one other crucial aspect to this historic saga. And that is the rule of law. The dispute over the presidency was not resolved by military intervention, assassinations or bloody demonstrations. It was resolved in the courts.

There is no doubt that there were problems in the electoral process in Florida. Al Gore's objections were perfectly reasonable. He took his case to the courts. He lost. And then he conceded.

Read this over and over again: There is a dispute. There is a judicial review. There is a decision. There is a resolution. That's it.

Of course, judicial decisions and conflict resolutions-- like everything else in this universe -- are relative, imperfect. In the case of Bush vs. Gore, the resolution is unsatisfactory to many. There is a thick cloud of suspicion over Bush's victory.

But there is an undeniable, reassuring civility about the process. Al Gore got every opportunity to challenge his opponent's victory. Legally. Peacefully. From Florida's lowest courts up to the Supreme Court in Washington, Gore's lawyers did everything they could to win by reasoned argument. They lost. But all is not lost. Not at all.

Who wins or loses is not as important as having the opportunity to put up a fair fight. It's not even important if the final outcome of a court battle is wrong. You can be wrong but still be fair.

What the majority of Supreme Court justices decided was wrong. But the process was fair. That's why Al Gore conceded. That's why Americans can accept George W. Bush even knowing that he indeed may be an illegitimate president. And that's what the rest of the world, especially Iran, can learn from the United States. Fairness. Civility. The rule of law.

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