Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.
- In 1800, when the Electoral College produced a tie, the House took 36 ballots to elect Jefferson president over Aaron Burr and avoided a promised attack on Washington by Pennsylvania and Virgina state militias had they voted for Burr; that was a divided America.
- In 1858, when Abraham Lincoln uttered the famous line that "A house divided against itself cannot stand," that was a divided America.
- In 1876, when another election went to the House and Rutherford Hayes became President only by cutting a deal with the Southern state delegations to remove federal troops, end reconstruction and to not enforce voting rights for blacks; that was a divided America.
So it's probably good for all of us to have news of a really divided nation, just to keep things in perspective this Thanksgiving. The Ukrainian elections have the country on the brink of a civil war. International election monitors are claiming widespread vote fraud on behalf of the winner of the election, Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's Prime Minister, backed by both the outgoing President and Moscow. The EU has spoken out against the results, as has Canada. The U.S. weighed in with Colin Powell mentioning the serious consequences of certifying the fraudulent election (namely U.S. aid). Meanwhile, needless to say, Putin has already been congratulating Yanukovich on his "win," and the outgoing President has asked the world to, basically, mind their own damn business. [Retuers via Yahoo] Today, Ukraine's highest court has blocked the inauguration of Yanukovich. [Reuters via Yahoo] It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.
Again, like my historical examples, but unlike today, in the U.S., Ukraine shows a fundamental division in a nation, with a part of the nation wanting to pursue westernization and liberalization, wanting to align itself more with the EU and the Western democracies. Now this is a difference that matters: about remaining as a satellite of Russia, little different than the days of the Soviet Union, or becoming an independent and autonomous nation.
I think it would help us all, as we go to see families and friends, many of whom may be at odds on politics, to think of Ukraine or the history of our country, and remember that we agree about more things that we disagree, that we're really all Americans, living in the greatest nation in history, participants in that bold experiment in democracy that still continues. I think that's something for which we should al be thankful, whether your're Michael Moore or Pat Robertson.
e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink] | | Thursday, November 25, 2004