The extraordinary presidential election ended not with a bang but with a legal whimper from the U.S. Supreme Court. The 5-4 decision in Al Gore v. George Bush was a mishmash, provoking four separate dissents and leaving legal scholars with many loose ends and citizens with lots of questions.
Churches can and should affirm the moral significance of marriage without denigrating those who are not married. So we have argued before in this space, noting at the same time that such affirmations must be sensitive to the diverse experiences of the people in the pews.
We live between Christ’s first and second advent, in what W. H. Auden called “for the time being,” which can be “the hardest time of all.” Everything has been changed by Christ’s coming, and yet to most people’s eyes, and often to Christian eyes as well, everything seems to remain the same.
One of the clichés of historians and civics textbooks is that the U.S. is an “experiment” in democracy. The inconclusive November 7 election and the subsequent wrangling over the certification of Florida’s votes have verified that it’s far from an empty cliché. This really is an experiment, and a very messy one.
The orange Halloween lights went up early this year. And in our neighborhood, there seemed to be a lot more of them—along with tiny ghost dolls hanging from trees, cobweb-like fabric stretched across porches, plastic spiders perched on roofs, and bloody plastic hands emerging from cardboard gravestones.
Since 1988 there have been ten major party candidates for the office of U.S. president. Except for Bob Dole and John McCain, they all attended elite, private colleges, and seven of those eight also went to elite professional schools. All eight of them went to Harvard or Yale at some point—both of the Bushes, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Romney. Of the 14 presidential nominees between 1948 and 1984, the heyday of public universities, only three went to elite private colleges and only two attended Harvard or Yale, with a third candidate having gone to Princeton. Harry Truman didn’t go to college and Barry Goldwater didn’t finish college. Lyndon Johnson went to Southwest Texas State Teachers College, Richard Nixon to Whittier College, and Ronald Reagan to Eureka College (William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite, Free Press).