Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Notes on Election 2000
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   12/15/2000)

I'm not making any promises, but I hope this will be the last column for a while that I devote to this election. The drama has been so riveting it's been irresistible to me. The cast was compelling. The stakes high. The suspense agonizing. When George W. lays his hand on the Bible and takes the Inaugural oath, he'll be casting out—in their presence—those enemies who ousted his father eight years ago. What could be more dramatic?

Save for its lack of violence and beauty of language, this contest had all the drama of Shakespeare. George W. seeking revenge for his warrior-father's defeat at the hands of Clinton-Gore. Al Gore sinking beneath the burden of lifelong ambition deferred, possibly forever. Fortune's great wheel turning… turning….

At times, even the language rose to the level of Shakespeare, as when Gore quoted his father, Albert Gore, Sr., so: "Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out." What a rich and sumptuous phrase.

Speaking of violence, I'm amazed no one was killed during the past five weeks as a result of this contest. When front lines formed in Palm Beach, Miami and Washington, I fully expected spilt blood. Let the world scoff at our system. It's still a miracle, and a tribute to the Founders.

Witness the tears—human and crocodile—from commentators responding to Gore's concession speech Wednesday. Peter Jennings was husky-voiced as he talked about Gore's generosity. Chris Matthews was near to crying as he blathered on about having heard one of the greatest speeches of his life. Cokie Roberts noted how gracious Gore was. It's ironic. If these esteemed pundits had strung three kind words together during the campaign, Gore probably would have won.

Sam Donaldson's remarks were especially ironic. Asked what he thought Gore's enduring legacy would be, Donaldson suggested "environmental awareness." It may sound alarmist, said Donaldson, but if something isn't done about global warming, "we're all going to perish." Now's a fine time to mention it. Where was he when Bush dead-panned during a debate, "We don't know what causes global warming, do we?"

Before you judge Gore too harshly for pressing his case, consider it from his perspective.

Gore received more votes than anyone in the history of America except for Reagan. He got far more than Clinton, Bush, Carter, Nixon, Johnson or Kennedy. How that must eat at him.

Bush won by laying claim to Florida by a margin of 537 votes—less than one-twentieth of one percent of the six million cast.

His victory was certified prematurely by a Bush activist, Katherine Harris, employed by his brother, Jeb Bush.

Thousands of Jews and blacks voted for Buchanan rather than Gore, due to faulty ballots.

More than 8,000 legal voters—mostly black—were apparently purged from voting lists and barred from voting.

The company that conducted the purge was from Texas, Bush's home state.

Hand-counts were never finished even though a co-inventor of the voting machine, testifying for Bush, mind you, admitted under oath that was the only way to find out who really won.

The Supreme Court halted hand-recounts that showed Gore gaining ground and allowed the clock to run out. The vote was five to four. The four protested angrily.

Family members of two of them—Scalia and Thomas—may have materially benefited from that ruling.

A lower court ruled there was no evidence ballots had been miscounted, but refused to examine the ballots to see if this was true. The list goes on.

Obviously, not every appearance of evil is evil, and I'm not often seduced by conspiracy theories. I do believe, however that, planned or not, circumstance gave Bush a material edge. Take away most any of the above factors and Gore likely wins.

Amid the millions of words uttered the last five weeks, I don't remember anyone from either side saying they thought a majority of the people in Florida or the nation at large set out to vote for Bush on Election Day.

What I won't miss is the hatred and intolerance exuded by extremists on both sides of this contest. I don't understand the mentality that paints political opponents as evil. Such hatred is the real enemy. Even though I was for Gore, I wrote long ago that any one of several candidates might make a good president, and I believe it. This includes Bush.

Finally, Bush has many hurdles to overcome in getting millions of voters to see him as our legitimate leader. Questions about this contest will haunt his presidency. Still, once inaugurated, George W. Bush will be my president. I wish him well, if only because I wish our nation well.