Any individual seeking political office must take positions on dozens, even hundreds of issues upon which he has no deep knowledge or strong convictions. The true measure of a leader is best understood by examining those one or two issues upon which he will never accept any compromise. That represents the fundamental reason he is running.
For Ronald Reagan, that one issue was resistance to Soviet Communism. For Jimmy Carter, it was human rights. For Barbara Boxer or Gary Bauer, it would be abortion. For others, perhaps the environment or the Second Amendment or Gay Rights. One learns much about a man by discovering that one deeply buried principle upon which he will stand his ground regardless of whatever pressure he might face.
During the recent Presidential campaign, one sought in vain to discover any such deep principle in either Vice President Al Gore or Gov. George W. Bush, either from their campaign speeches or from the record of their past positions. Both men had twisted and turned considerably in their political careers—or been complete blanks—and now seemed all too ready to compromise much of what remained.
Thus, an important benefit derived from the ongoing Battle in Florida has been to reveal the one overarching ideological principle upon which the personal belief systems of both our Presidential candidates are based: whether or not dimpled chads should be counted as pregnant.
Clearly both Bush and Gore are fully capable of adapting the lofty rhetoric of one of our greatest Presidents, pledging their sacred honor that a Government of the Chad, by the Chad, and for the Chad must not be allowed to vanish from the earth. Each candidate might compromise on anything else once in office, but we can rest assured that each will expend every ounce of hoarded political capital to enact national legislation on the interpretation of chads.
However, while our entire nation follows Florida’s endlessly fascinating debate over just how dimpled a chad must be before it is considered pregnant, a few other, far more trivial matters are proceeding along, generating occasional blips of attention.
One such inconsequential issue is whether or not millions of immigrant children living in America should be taught to read and write English when they go to school. The voters of California and now Arizona have said Yes, but at present most of the remaining 48 other states still say No, as do both of our national chad disputants. While Bush and Gore and their armies of lawyers and retainers may fiercely dispute every bump in a chad, they both (for now at least) appear foresquare behind Spanish-only instruction for immigrant children in American schools.
Others around the country—in Colorado, Texas, and Massachusetts—feel differently, as the front page story below, from Monday’s Arizona Republic so indicates.
Consider this Note a mere station-break in our nation’s ongoing drama: the Great War of the Dimpled Chad.
- Arizona win encourages bilingual-ed opponents
Arizona Republic, Monday, November 20, 2000, FRONT PAGE