Monday, December 13, 2010

Lemme try something . . .

I need to start doing this blogging thing again. I wonder if this would work: link to the This Day in History page on the History Channel's website and riff about that day. Hm. It's got potential.

This Day in History

Okay, so the most significant item that site suggests is that today is the 10-year anniversary of Al Gore's concession of the 2000 presidential race. To some readers, a dark day in our past. To some, a peaceful resolution of one of our nation's greatest political crises. However, I don't know if the Election of 2000 ranks in my top five political crises. Without doubt, I know that the following four beat it out:

  • The Civil War
  • Andrew Johnson's Impeachment
  • Watergate
  • Election of 1824 (you know, the "Corrupt Bargain")

To me it's a close call between Bush vs. Gore and the Election of 1876, when Hayes sold the freedmen down the river to secure the disputed votes of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. I might have to give the edge to 1876 because the fate of so many former slaves hung in the balance and because, sadly, that compromise left the Southern black populace at the mercy of Jim Crow and Sharecropping. I guess in another 15 years historians can more appropriately size up the impact of Gore conceding, and the impact of the whole recount controversy itself (after all, George Will wrote a column yesterday claiming that the 2000 election has been the catalyst for the commonness of he-said-she-said recount battles in the last decade). But Gore's election likely wouldn't have stopped the defining moment of the decade, 9/11.

I will remember 2000 as one of the more humorous and humbling moments of my teaching career. I had built a substantial portion of my 9th grade Social Studies class around that election. I remember having an essay due for the day after the election where my students would tell me why candidate x won or lost. Oh, the fun of pushing that essay back a day, then two, then just telling my students to bag it.