George W. Bush will be the next president of the United States, Vice President Al Gore will return to private life, and the majority of the Supreme Court will go down in history for having made one of the worst decisions since Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sanford in 1857.
Because the highest court in the land has ruled, and, in effect, handed the presidency to Bush, the nation must do as Gore did Wednesday night: accept that finding and move on.
Despite our own political preferences, we cannot disregard the court's ruling even if we disagree with it. We have an obligation to abide by the law, and we have a duty to respect the presidency regardless who holds the office.
Bush will be my president.
Although I disagree with the Texas governor on many issues, I do not wish him ill, and I certainly don't hope for failure. That would be the same as desiring failure for the country.
I have lived through some dark days in this country segregation, assassination, war, resignation and impeachment and survived them all, sometimes emerging with a newfound faith in this democracy; always comforted by a hope that time will bring about a change.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said the night before he was killed, "We've got some difficult days ahead."
Unfortunately the High Court's decision, rooted more in partisan politics than in law (constitutional or otherwise), has only added to almost certain troubles rather than help alleviate them.
Rather than stay out of this states' rights issue altogether, the court quickly dived into it and, just as quickly, found there was no easy or graceful way to exit.
So, in a convoluted opinion, it said there should be a remedy to count the uncounted votes in Florida, that the state's Supreme Court should provide the standard, but that there was no time to do it.
This was the same majority of the court that had stopped the counting two days earlier.
In deciding this presidential election, based on its ideological and political bias, the majority sealed its legacy with one arrogant misguided vote. It will forever be a tainted court, and Bush's presidency, no matter how successful, will be historically marred.
That said, we must move on.
Yes, it will be hard to forget this monthlong Florida recount and court battle that finally ended with Gore's concession and Bush's ascension to the presidency.
What should be remembered, however, is what the two candidates said to the nation once the battle was finally over.
Gore, mixing humility with honesty and graciousness with sincerity, quoted Stephen Douglas after he had been defeated by Abraham Lincoln almost 150 years ago: "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you Mr. President, and God bless you."
The vice president went on to say, "I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends."
For his part, the president-elect declared, "I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans want progress. And we must seize this moment and deliver. ..."
He also said, "Our nation must rise above a house divided. ... Our votes may differ, but not our hopes."
In my few years of living, I've seen hopes dashed on the streets of downtown Birmingham and hope slain on a street in downtown Dallas. I have watched American leaders break promises, try to circumvent the law and covet power in a recklessly selfish way.
And yet I've seen the country endure it all, growing stronger every time and becoming more solidly anchored in those democratic principles on which it was founded.
Yes, there are some troubling days ahead, but with every new day comes new opportunity.
I pray and trust that our new president will rise to the occasion, and that the people of this country will at least give him a chance to lead.