I am working for a victory for President Bush. I think Kerry is a bad man and would make a terrible President. Nobody who has followed my writing on this blog for the past two months or in the wider world for the past year would ever misunderstand that. I also believe that President Bush is going to win a solid victory on Tuesday, and I am praying for an undisputed, clean election.
People with my political beliefs, myself included, made a terrible mistake in the Clinton years. We decided en masse that because he was such a dreadful man, because he was so destructive to the office, that he was no longer our President. That he was illegitimate. That we hated him.
This was a profoundly bad thing for America.
Yes, he was a bad man and he did some terrible things and he was, in fact, profoundly destructive to the office of the Presidency. But we on the right lost sight of something: we were not responsible for what Bill Clinton was. We were responsible for what we were.
Our country is predicated on the idea that we don't need to have civil wars and hyper-partisan destructive political conflict, because we provide a mechanism for the people to select our leadership. If the people vote for you according to the pre-existing rules, then hey, you're the leader.
This arrangement is in danger. It was in danger in the 1980s from the right, and it is in danger today from the left. If Kerry wins, then it will be the right's turn to be the ones tearing down the fragile network of customs and beliefs that holds our nation together. I don't think we should do that. I don't want to be a part of doing that again. I did it in the 1980s and it was stupid and destructive and wrong of me. I'm sorry about it, but the only thing I can do about it now is to resolve not to do it again.
If John Kerry wins, reasonably fair, reasonably square, then he will become my President and I will support him. That doesn't mean I won't fight him like the devil on all the many, many things he will do that are wrong and bad; I will. That doesn't mean I won't criticize him ferociously and with a partisan growl; I will.
But I won't declare that he is an illegitimate leader.
I won't undermine him in front of the national leaders that he has to relate to in order to do his job.
I won't call him President-Select Kerry if the Supreme Court has to intervene, again, to keep the electoral machinery moving.
I won't print up bumper stickers in 2008 saying Re-Unelect Kerry.
I won't, in short, do any of the things that the nauseating anti-Bush left has done in the last four years. I did that stuff with Clinton, and now that I've grown up a little bit, and now that I've seen what it looks like when the other side does it to my guy, and now that they've held up a mirror, it's a little bit sickening, and I'm more than a little bit ashamed.
Here's what it boils down to, folks:
If John Kerry wins the election, reasonably fair, reasonably square, then he becomes my President and your President.
If George Bush wins the election, reasonably fair, reasonably square, then he remains my President and your President.
This is my pledge, my promise, my what-have-you. It's written down, in black and white. Call me on it if I renege.
I ask everybody who reads this to do two things if they agree with me.
One, say it loud and say it proud, the winner of the 2004 election is my President, and whether I like him or not, whether I agree with him or not, I'm not going to be a Michael Moore-style flaming gasbag asshat about it.
Two, pass the link along. Send it to your friends, post it on your blog, whatever. It's important. We are one country, and we have to pull together whether we agree with one another or not.