Someone recently compared the day after an election to Groundhog Day: We poke our heads out from under the covers, and if we see the shadow of the other guy, we predict four more years of discontent.
Whatever the outcome of this year’s elections, roughly half of America is waking up unhappy today (assuming, of course, we’ve been able to definitively sort things out by now). I’m just hoping the unhappy half hasn’t been expressing their discontent by breaking and burning stuff.
No matter which half you’re in, this would be a good time to ponder what just happened. Every qualified adult in the United States was given the opportunity to express his or her preference regarding the person he or she wants as a leader.
We did it without (I hope) threats, violence or intimidation, or fear of reprisal. In Georgia, in Columbia County, we were given dozens of opportunities to vote and places to cast a ballot, all making it terrifically convenient to express our wishes.
In fact, our votes now are so easily cast that we seem to value them less.
Think about that: In the past century, various castes and classes of people have been forced to fight, argue, petition and march for the ability to vote. Long after the victories, the beneficiaries of the effort seem to assimilate themselves into the rest of the apathetic crowd, forgetting how they got where they are.
As a result, we’ve come to accept the reality that our leaders will be chosen not by the collective will of the people, but by a slightly more motivated subset of voters.
Would the leaders we choose be substantially different if more people voted to select them? Possibly, and not necessarily for the better. After all, which has more viewers: Jersey Shore or Masterpiece Theater? Sometimes more is just a dumb mob.
In addition, we’ve seen many circumstances where an electorate energized for a single purpose or person has wreaked havoc in other elections that happened to appear on the same ballot.
There’s a strong likelihood, in fact, that such mischief has occurred in this year’s elections. As we review the returns, we’ll be able to tell just how much mischief – especially in Richmond County races.
Those side effects likely are minor, however, compared to the possible earthquakes greeting the country this morning. I’m no more prescient than the next guy, but I have an inkling that in many races I’m waking up on the unhappy side of the bed. I certainly hope I’m just being gloomy.
In any event, we’ll undoubtedly survive. But unlike the groundhog, we certainly won’t thrive if we crawl back in a hole and wait until next time our voices are needed.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/