If you voted during this election season, thank you. As a citizen of this great (and flawed) nation, you've done the minimum that all of us should do this season. Way to do your part.
As we write this, it is Tuesday afternoon—mere hours before the ballot boxes close. As you read this, some of you will be filled with mild delight at the results of the election. Others will feel disgust. One of your mildly exciting candidates has won; the other sits, exhausted, and perhaps a bit relieved it's all over. To say this has been a gong show of an election season is an understatement. (It would be nice if this actually were a gong show, because that may have meant that at least one of the presidential candidates would have been gonged off by now.)
In an election year in which we've been forced to choose between the lesser of evils, when we've had unfit—and in the case of a local candidate or two, even dangerously unsuitable candidates rammed down our throats—the best we can feel at this moment is mildly satisfied or dissatisfied. Wildly triumphant we cannot be right now. It just wasn't that type of election.
And while you may have done your part as a voter, we believe the parties, the candidates and even the current legislators at the state level have not. This election was a sorry example of how not to do an election season.
Let us elaborate, beginning with the parties.
It's quite clear that the Republican party has had some ups and downs by choosing the Orange Man as its candidate—but that's far from the only travesty in party politics we've seen this season. At the local level, we've been dismayed time after time by the local parties' failure to groom candidates... and their failure to guide them on the issues and the path to success. Some of the local candidates are great people who would make good legislators—if only they were running in the right race. Before placing a candidate on a party slate card, local parties would do well to vet every one of their candidates. When a party is forced to excommunicate a candidate late in the game, we put that on the party, not the candidate.
We also learned how not to handle an election season by looking at one of the measures our state legislature has brought us. In the case of Measure 97, we thank you, Salem, for your attempt at filling the gaps in education, senior services and healthcare. That's neat—but had you made the measure more airtight by adding more exemptions and more definitive language around how the money would be spent, the naysayers may have had less to complain about on TV commercials. Sigh.
In the city of Bend, meanwhile, where people continually complain about the decisions of our leadership, we've seen a decided lack of interest in entering the races that matter. We gotta put that partly on the parties once again, for not identifying and grooming suitable candidates for positions such as City Council, but we're also putting that on an electorate that's Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to bitching, but less forthcoming when it comes to actually solving problems. We need more of you to put your hat in the ring, to be apprised of the issues, and to participate in the process. How to start? Join a committee within the parks, city, schools or county structure, and then work your way up the ladder to an elected position. That's how it's done.
This election has been nothing if not a spectacle, especially at the national level. And while the national stage has brought us many moments of lament, it's also there that we've seen perhaps the one bright light. At the Democratic Convention in July, it was First Lady Michelle Obama who said, "Our motto is, when they go low, we go high." Amid the mire of vitriol we've seen this election season, it is her words that we hope will live on.
As we move on from this election season, let us all remember to go high.