Thank goodness, it’s over.
The campaign season has ended. It seems as if it dragged on for years.
Wait, no, it did drag on for years. These days, there is some form of campaigning, and a variety of maneuvers for political position, taking place regardless of the year or time of year.
American politics, certainly at the national level, has become a never-ending search for funds, allegiances, strategy and support.
When President Obama was elected four years ago, a prominent Senate adversary declared the entire term would be dedicated to the president’s removal. Opponents immediately put out feelers and a mob of candidates took to a circuit for interminable debates and appearances. Pollsters had a different candidate ahead with each new day; the pundits’ sideshow was loud and, often, offensive.
During the last year, prospective candidates came out of the woodwork, jockeying for position in national and state-level races. The last several months, candidates in local races left the trench and joined the fray.
The money flowed. And to what avail, other than to bolster the future of those already blessed with good fortune?
Take a look at the photo on the front page of The SUN and you see but a tiny bit of the debris that floated off the sinking campaign vessels —evidence of enormous sums of money spent on campaigns. Billions of dollars were spent this election cycle to provide printed materials, radio and TV ads — billions that could have led to the cure of a disease or the reduction of a deficit. The waste: most printed material ended up in the trash, unread. Most TV ads went unseen when the remote control was brought into play.
Part of the reason, we suspect, is growing awareness on the part of American voters that a significant amount of promotional material is paid for by, and ultimately serves big money donors, many of whose identities we will never know. Super PACs receive funds from non-profits that receive funds from a non-profit that got money from a non-profit — that is not required by law to disclose donors. The materials in the trashcan and littering the post office floor are evidence that far too much political influence is being openly bought. Much of the material, in particular the TV ads, is odious, an insult to intelligence and to a sense of proper decorum. The noxious noise issuing from the television in the form of ads and “news” coverage by certain cable television networks has driven the notion of civil discourse, compromise and cooperation for the common good off the playing field.
But, this election had its bright spots. As always, this nation allows its citizens to participate in the political process to whatever degree they wish and, as a result, there were legions of passionate supporters from all points on the political spectrum working for candidates and issues. There are many places in this world where people die attempting to do the same. Americans speak out freely and vote without fear of reprisal. It is a great gift.
Second, younger voters turned out to cast ballots.
Finally, on a local level, the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots was impressive — more than 80 percent. Democracy is alive, and most vital, the closer to home we get.
Now, if only those energies and interests can be turned to the task of cleaning up our campaign finance problems, to moderate cooperative efforts rather than the empty blather of extremism, this election could be the harbinger of better things ahead.