- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

Everyone is counseling President-elect Bush to "heal" our nation, "reach out" to the other side, "bridge the gap" between Republicans and Democrats, and "govern from the center." The premise is that Mr. Bush ran on a platform that was decidedly different from that of Vice President Al Gore and because the election was so close the victor needs to share the spoils.
This is a flawed premise. On many issues, the difference between "compassionate conservatism" and what Mr. Gore offered the nation was six of one and half-a-dozen of another. For the most part, Mr. Bush has no difficulty governing from the "center," because that is how he campaigned and, I believe, that is how he would govern even if he had won by a decisive majority.
What troubles me most about all of this healing stuff is the fact that Republicans are always expected to "feel the pain" of Democrats but the roles are never reversed. You can bank on the fact that whenever civic "healing" is proposed, it is always those left-of-center whose wounds need to be licked.
I would feel a lot better about the good faith and sincerity of this healing process if the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and Jesse Jackson felt our pain and apologized for characterizing Mr. Bush and other Republicans as racists hell-bent on dragging black people behind pick-up trucks to their deaths. The cries to "bring us together" would not ring so hollow if Mr. Gore would apologize to Justice Clarence Thomas for maligning him when addressing black audiences during the campaign.
And while we are at it, it would sure be a nice gesture if Mr. Jackson said he overreacted when he announced his intention to open an office of the Rainbow Coalition in Tallahassee because "Florida is the scene of the crime. It is what Birmingham and Selma were 30 years ago." If horse manure were music, Mr. Jackson's "disenfranchisement" theme song would be a symphony.
There is another aspect to this healing talk that I want to get off my chest. What about some of the rest of us who were shunted aside during the Bush campaign? We seethed in silence, as we watched the Republican convention not from the convention floor as delegates but from our television sets. We were good soldiers and did whatever we were asked to do to support Mr. Bush's election. Whenever solicitations were made for funds, we contributed. Whenever bodies were needed for rallies, we rounded up the troops. Whenever our own supporters needed to be energized, we traveled far and wide to give speeches urging Republicans to go to the polls and deliver the votes.
We witnessed our candidate distance himself from us in an appearance at the national convention of the NAACP. We were abused by Colin Powell in prime time as he mocked us for opposing race preferences but not speaking out loudly enough about "preferences for lobbyists."
How about a little healing of our wounds, huh?
Sometimes I just don't understand my party's leadership, such as the occasion when former Speaker Newt Gingrich invited Jesse Jackson to sit in his box for one of President Bill Clinton's State of the Union addresses. No one bashed Mr. Gingrich more during his reign as speaker and after he resigned than Mr. Jackson. Similarly, no one was more vituperative against Mr. Bush than Mr. Jackson.
From the convention floor of the Democrat Party, this political operative bellowed, "Stay out the Bushes." Throughout the campaign, Mr. Jackson characterized Mr. Bush as essentially the Second Coming of George Wallace and Lester Maddox. After the election, he likened Mr. Bush's election to something that would happen in Yugoslavia. The morning of the day that Mr. Gore conceded, Mr. Jackson could be seen telling Katie Couric that the Bush brothers had conspired to deny black people their right to vote.
What did Mr. Jackson, as one of the primary cheerleaders of one of the most racist campaigns in American history, get for his efforts to delegitimize the election of Mr. Bush? He gained legitimacy by being able to talk to Mr. Bush on the day after Mr. Gore's concession. Will someone please explain this to me? Is it a function of the principle that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Is it because Mr. Bush is more comfortable healing the wounds of his enemies than those of his allies? I wonder how many of us who strongly supported Mr. Bush and from an early stage but who were forced to stand on the sidelines being taken for granted and seething in silence, would have had our calls accepted as Mr. Jackson did. How many of us would receive an invitation to meet with the president-elect?
Deep in my soul, I want Mr. Bush to be the president of all Americans. But, charity begins at home and I would urge him not to forget those of us who toiled in ways far more significant than he will ever realize to bring about his victory. But, most importantly, he should remember that those who want him to feel their pain should be made to feel a little of his own.We welcome your opinions. Please email your letters to the editor to [email protected] All letters may be edited for clarity and length. Please include your name, daytime telephone number, city and state.

Ward Connerly is author of "Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences" and President and CEO of Connerly & Associates, Inc., based in Sacramento, Calif.

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