As I peck away at the keyboard, millions of Americans will go vote today. Sadly, only about 1 in 3 Americans who are of voting age will actually vote in this election and many do not even take thie privilege seriously. I recently overheard a man at a fast food restaurant proudly proclaim he had written in his dog for the U.S. Senate. I am not sure that our soldiers and patriots intended to die for that vote.
A lot will be made depending on how things shakeout today. If the GOP wins the Senate, it will be seen as a death knell to the President’s legislative agenda. If the Democrats maintain control, it will be thought that there is glimmer of hope for the President’s second term. No matter the election, the President is always on the ballot.
As a former political hack and junkie, I want to share some thoughts that are always helpful for me on the day after the election.
1. You will probably not like the people you voted for as much after they are elected. If the person you have hitched your horse to is elected today, you probably will not like them as much tomorrow. They are, in the end, a politician and they represent a large number of people. If their goal is to affect change, they will probably have to do some things you do not like. If they want to get ahead and advance themselves, they will have to do some things you do not like. If they never do anything you do not like, they will probably not represent you very long.
2. Washington changes people. This is a best guess on my part, but it comes from some pretty good observations. One of two things is normally true about people who go to Washington. They are either hardened politicians who are keenly aware of the political game, or they are idealist in for a rude awakening. Washington is a place of backrooms deals and political maneuvering. While I want a leader who is above such things, the people who do not play the game are normally not in a position to bring home the bacon. If we are honest, that is why most people vote for a certain person or party; they believe they or their district will get something in return.
3. Local elections are important. I imagine a lot of voters do not know anything about names on the ballot past the first couple. How much time did you spend researching the judges or county commissioners? Those people may affect more change on you than the ones who ran non-stop television ads. Not a lot of money to run television ads for the soil and water conservation district positions. Are they important? That is a matter of opinion, but they are on your ballot and surely you do not want to be the type of person that plays a guessing game with your vote. Local officials plan your tax rates and oversee your child’s education. Do not neglect to know who you are voting for locally. That decision may haunt you more than the people you ship off to Washington.
God willing, the sun will come up tomorrow, new public servants will take office in December and January, and we will move forward. If tomorrow is disappointing, remember, the Iowa Caucuses are less than 430 days away!