A call for patience during this ‘lesson’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 11, 2000

For Mississippians, the drawn-out presidential election process is like a bad case of deja vu.

Just a year ago, we watched and waited as the state’s gubernatorial candidates battled tooth-and-nail after neither received a true majority of the popular vote. In accordance with the state’s admittedly archaic constitution, the governor was elected by the Legislature … but we were forced to wait months for that to happen.

Now, we must wait again … and this time the wait is on a much larger scale. American voters throughout the nation are getting a taste of what Mississippians have already experienced: the frustrating game of wait and see as an incredibly close vote is counted — and recounted — in an effort to gain those precious electoral college votes.

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It’s more than a little ironic that Mississippi — a state which admittedly trails most of the nation in rankings as varied as education and teacher pay to per capita income and child welfare — proved to be the leader in election quagmires.

And, we suspect that more than a few Americans will follow our voters’ lead in calling for massive changes in the election system. But while constitutional changes are long overdue in Mississippi, we’re not ready to call for an overhaul of the more than 200-year-old electoral college system which has served our nation well.

Instead, we call for a bit of perspective on voters’ parts — a little more patience and a chance to appreciate the fact that we are experiencing a living civics lesson, an invaluable lesson that many Americans never imagined could happen.

And, we suspect that the candidates’ actions in the next crucial days will tell us more about their leadership abilities than months of campaign speeches and any televised debates.