Fri, 15 Dec 2000

It's George W. Bush

Five weeks of suspense and the long wait for the two contenders of the United States presidency ended on Wednesday (Thursday morning, Jakarta time) after Democrat Vice President Al Gore conceded defeat and recognized Republican George W. Bush as the president-elect.

Gore's hopes of taking the top job in the White House were dashed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the State of Florida's decision that allowed recounts of the disputed votes in that state of the Nov. 7 presidential election.

Conceding his defeat in a nationwide televised speech, Gore pledged to help Bush unify the country and called on all Americans, particularly his supporters, to rally behind the victor of America's most controversial presidential election.

"I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country," said Gore.

The controversy arising from the U.S. election procedure has prompted many developing countries to question whether the U.S. electoral system -- often believed to be the most democratic in the world -- would be the best they could apply to their own political structures in this ever-changing era of globalization.

One most obvious question is how a leader of a superpower like the U.S. was finally determined by just nine justices of the nation's Supreme Court and not by the votes of the 100 million Americans who cast their ballots early last month.

Gore, who won the popular vote by nearly 338,000, had to give up the dream he had long cherished to his rival because of the adoption of the U.S. electoral college system.

Shouldn't the aspirations and choice of the majority be more significant and credible than the those of a handful of judges? Such a question, of course, is best left for the Americans to answer and to determine what best suits their country's political system.

Bush, who has emerged the victor in the election and will become the U.S.'s 43rd president next month, responded well to Gore's concession speech by saying that he will work together with every single American for the good of the U.S.

As he put it: "I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The President of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect."

To fulfill his promise, Bush's first task will be to bring the country together by targeting common and reasonable goals that benefit the entire American public. Second, he must select professional candidates for his key ministerial posts in his administration; candidates who can offer new solutions, if not breakthroughs, to the various old problems confronted by the American people.

While the international community expects closer cooperation and ties with his new administration, it is also expected that Bush will continue to work on a number of unfinished jobs left by his predecessor; important jobs that could help create stability and peace in many parts of the world. To mention just a few: U.S. active mediation in the Middle East conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, talks on nuclear disarmament with Russia, and Washington's active role in helping reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.