6:00: Morning News

Happy Election Day!

I get sentimental on Election Day.

Maybe I am naïve, but I still believe the people we choose to represent us, from county surveyor all the way up to President of the United States, matter.

To believe in elections, I must resist the temptation to be cynical. It is too easy to dismiss elections with sweeping contempt for all politicians.

Unfortunately, campaigns too often bring out the worst in our candidates. The plethora of attack ads focuses on how bad the other person is. Sometimes it feels as though competing candidates are in a political death spiral of mutually assured destruction.

It gets messy, but I do not know a better way.

Chris Stirewalt, politics editor of NewsNation and host of The Hill Sunday, told me Monday that he hates Primary Elections. He believes politicians seek out the lowest common denominator to appeal to enough voters to get a plurality, and thus the nomination.  He would like to go back to a time when parties held meaningful conventions and individuals who worked their way up the party ladder would be the nominees.

Others will argue those were the bad old “smoke-filled-room” days, and I agree.  That process excluded too many loyal party members who are not among the power brokers but who still want to have a say in the people their party nominates.  Additionally, Primary Elections provide transparency that is increasingly important at a time when people have a growing mistrust of institutions.

We complain, legitimately, about the harshness of our political discourse and we grow weary of long campaigns, but I suspect most of us feel good about voting. Participating is an exercise of our civic responsibility, as well as an endorsement of our democratic process.

Abraham Lincoln said, “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. I say this is the leading principle—the sheet anchor—of American Republicanism.”

What a great way to view elections; they are not just about choosing candidates, they are about reinforcing the way we govern and a testament to the values of what were then the revolutionary ideas of 250 years ago. Elections and voting are debts paid to our Founders, who risked all.

Of course, voting is not compulsory. It’s a free country. But as Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said, “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws.”

Given that we are a nation of laws, not of men or women, who we choose to make those laws makes all the difference.



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