Election Is Over, But What Did It Say About Us?


The elections are over, and life has returned to normal, whatever that is.

Yet I am writing this and sending it to my editor before the elections take place because I have some things I want to say before I know the results.

One of the things I want to say is: Shame on us. Somehow we have allowed national politics to degenerate into a blood sport. It never should’ve happened, but, now that it did, there’s no turning back. The end result is that we can no longer watch the world news and shake our heads at those poor misguided folks who solve everything with unruly protests. I shudder to think what those very same people saw on TV just prior to the U.S. elections. In the immortal words of cartoonist Walt Kelly’s character, Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

This year’s presidential election pitted brother against brother and family against family much like the Civil War did. Yet when we talk of the Civil War, we shake our heads sadly and mourn, “It pitted brother against brother,” as if that event was so very long ago and so very far away that there is no possible chance of our newer, stronger, smarter America ever being that fractured again. There is. We were.

I say “were” in hopes that I should not have said “are.” After the Civil War, it took years for peace to take hold, and whether the North and South ever really bonded again is often up for open-minded debate, except at Ku Klux Klan meetings, where neither open-mindedness nor debate is allowed.

But anyway. At least the mail-outs and phone calls and paid political brainwash — er, announcements — have stopped. Now there’s just the matter of getting on with our lives.

Of course, in some cases elections might not be over. Thanks to laws in a number of states, recounts are required in a variety of circumstances. “Hanging chads” have been done away with here in Palm Beach County primarily because a) people were sick to death of saying “chad” and b) it was simply too hilarious to have buttoned-up elected officials clamor for the honor of being photographed by important photographers as they stared ever-so-seriously through teeny, tiny rectangular holes like giant-size Alice in Wonderlands at the keyhole.

So here is what I suggest. (Oh, yes, I have suggestions.)

Tack a year onto the end of the presidential term so (s)he can spend the full four years accomplishing something. The fifth year (the “campaign” year), the vice president gets to take the helm while The Prez is out shaking hands and kissing babies. It’s the best of the “Put me in, Coach! Aw, c’mon. Put me in!” scenario.

Require other countries to play the opening from Saturday Night Live prior to running any unseemly video featuring Americans Behaving Badly. Maybe we can confuse them.

Use federal funds to sponsor a “Mend the Fences” Day for family members who are still holding pre-election grudges. There will be sack races, tugs-o-war and pie-eating contests, and at the end, brothers must hug brothers and promise to put their opinions behind them. This will require a lot of beer and bratwurst, but I think it will work.