- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

As I file this column it's the night before the election, and it feels like Christmas eve when I was a kid. It's been building for months. The airwaves and streets are filled with signs that election day will soon be here.
At first, only the campaigns and political junkies were in the spirit. Next, the special interests showed signs of life. The National Rifle Association and Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and Right to Life started organizing for the season. Then the general media, even Headline News and Live At Five, caught the fever. Soon kids and their teachers were earnestly learning about the electoral college.
Then the advertising started. Like Christmas carols, at first it was fun to hear the latest charges and counter-charges. But then, as they repeat and repeat, it was like hearing the same five Christmas carols in every mall and radio: "O come all ye faithful, vote out all the rascals, oh vote please oh vo-oooote on electionday. Come and behold him, born the peoples' champ-ion. Oh come let us support him, oh come let us support him, oh come let us support him on election day."
Soon the same people who complained that Christmas was becoming too commercial started grousing that elections are becoming too negative.
In our minds we start thinking back to simpler times when gift-giving was joyous and elections were issue-oriented and positive. How is this year's compared to the great ones of the past when it actually snowed on Christmas Eve, or when the family went to the mountains for the holidays, or that crazy year we all celebrated Christmas at a sunny beach?
So now we start remembering the great Reagan campaign of 1980, or Harry Truman's splendid resolve in 1948. How thrilling the Kennedy-Nixon race was.
For many, the old reveries taint the savoring of the current season's offering. But some of us can remember our parents complaining of the little haberdasher who could never fill FDR's shoes, or the B-actor who had no place running for president.
Where are the giants of yesteryear? Where are the white Christmases and yule logs pulled through the snowy woods to the family hearth? Well, they weren't giants when they were running, and does anyone know anyone who ever hauled a yule log through snowy woods? We always seem to think, at the time, that we have a lesser and a greater evil running for president. And it is usually about 45 degrees and dry on Christmas.
Whether nostalgic for the past or not, the excitement of this election season has been building. On election eve day, the engaged voters and political players, like children searching in closets and dark corners of the garage for their gifts, start calling each other and asking: "What do you think? How many points? Will we hold the Senate?" Will we get the gift we want on the morrow?
Like the late shoppers in drug stores on Christmas Eve who are finally, desperately willing to buy almost anything that looks like a gift, the late deciders joylessly complete their seasonal duty, and come to terms with their long-avoided decision.
It's true, we didn't always get what we wanted on Christmas. Many a 12-year-old boy was hoping for a go-cart or a .22 rifle, only to get clothes and a check to be put right into the bank. And not every 16-year-old girl got that tennis bracelet she had been hinting at for months. But the old rituals were honored. The long chain of continuity going back to that first celebrated Christmas in a manger was not broken.
Nor does the best man always win. But, once again, the gift of freedom bestowed on us by those wise men our Founding Fathers has not been cast aside. We have done our duty. So George Bush and Al Gore aren't quite Jefferson and Lincoln, and grandma and grandpa aren't with us anymore to sit on the sofa and watch us open the presents under the tree. But maybe the office will make the man. And the new toddler opening her first gift will someday be somebody's grandma. And these will be the good old days.
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