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Election Passions Persist

December 13, 2000

The U.S. Supreme Court can rule all it wants, and Al Gore can bow out of the race, but Dan Greenway isn’t in any mood to concede: He’s flying the flag upside down outside his home in Buffalo, N.Y., as a signal of distress.

``It’s not a legitimate presidency. George Bush should always feel guilty, if he, indeed, becomes the president,″ said Greenway, 42, administrative assistant at an AIDS clinic.

A day after the Supreme Court effectively brought an end to the 2000 presidential election, the strong passions of the past five weeks were still in evidence in the American public _ amid more general relief that a seemingly never-ending campaign had finally ended.

``I think that Bush is the greatest man that ever walked this Earth,″ said Stella Lukas, a 73-year-old, lifelong Democrat who waits tables at a restaurant near the airport in Newark, N.J. ``Those five judges that voted for Bush should live forever.″

But others were more muted in their approval or disapproval of the latest turn in the political saga.

``I’m just glad it’s over with,″ said David MacLeod, 53, during a smoke break outside the headquarters of insurance giant Aetna in Hartford, Conn. ``They finally have a resolution which they needed.″

Ruth Reitan, waiting for a perm to process in her beauty salon in Bottineau, N.D., was one Gore voter who was ready to give up.

``It’s just a mess,″ she said, ``and in a way, I still think that Gore could have been given some more chances. But this couldn’t go on.″

The court, she said, ``had to make a decision, and I would have to say I could live with it.″

Resigned, too, was Jane Snaider, a neighbor of Joe Lieberman’s in New Haven, Conn.

``I think everybody’s disappointed, but from talking with my neighbors, I think everyone sort of expected this outcome _ the politics of it all. We’re all pretty disappointed with the political system and the court system _ all way up to the Supreme Court,″ Snaider said.

Andrew Sykes, a 39-year-old lawyer in Pittsburgh who voted for the vice president, was disappointed in how the justices ruled.

``I think it’s a shame how the matter was ultimately resolved,″ he said. ``I think they have shown themselves to be more ideological than the country expects them to be.″

Mike Volk, sitting in a Fargo, N.D., coffee shop, said he voted for Bush, but by the time it all ended he ``didn’t care who the president was.″ He, too, was disappointed in the Supreme Court, in the confusing nature its ruling.

``I think no one wants to be responsible for making the decision.″ he said.

But the court had its defenders, like Alonzo Pannell, a 22-year-old security guard in Columbus, Ohio, who did not vote in the election.

``I think they handled it with diligence and I think they handled it pretty fair,″ he said. ``They gave (Gore) an ample amount of opportunity to get the votes to keep it going, but it never seemed like it was going to happen. Let’s go ahead and move on. Our president is George Bush.″

And there were those who saw some good in what has happened.

Barbara Barker, who was taking her 13-year-old son, Zachary, to the Philadelphia Art Museum, said the dialogue that resulted from the tight election has been great.

``I loved the process for the conversation its engendered with my son,″ she said. ``There has been so much debate. I think that’s wonderful.″

Brian Barbark, a 27-year-old Pittsburgh bike messenger who voted for a third-party candidate he wouldn’t disclose, said the election had been good for the country because it made people realize their votes count: ``The next election, voter turnout’s gonna be awesome. People are interested in politics, which is...″ he paused. ``Weird.″

And others said the biggest benefit of the drawn-out election would be electoral reform.

``This is just ridiculous,″ said Mary Brausch of Glen Ullin, N.D., a Bush supporter. ``It just didn’t have to take that long. I think they should have a better system. I have brother living in Tallahassee. I’m going to write him and rub it in.″

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