A Mid-Term Renewal of Faith in Democracy
As I look back on Tuesday's midterm elections, now that the pundits have stopped predicting and the commercials have stopped reverberating, it is clear to me that the election season was one of both great hope and great disappointment.
Beyond rationality, and beyond the common argument that it is difficult for the vote of one man or woman to really make a difference in a national election, lies my belief that no prognostication or prediction is as important as what each American does when he or she steps into a voting booth on Election Day.
On Tuesday, at 8 a.m. in the morning, anything that had been written in The New York Times or was projected on Larry King Live the evening before became merely talk. As it always happens, the citizens of our country exercised their direct constitutional right to elect their own representative government.
To me, it is often amazing that the resolution of the campaign season always strikes me in a special way, but it does consistently add strength and hope to my belief in democracy.
In this particular election, it was clear that the American public exercised a vote of protest and a declaration of their belief that the country has been headed in the wrong direction.
The Republican Party, previously a minority, gained a 53 to 47 advantage in the Senate and an approximate 230-205 advantage in the House of Representatives.
This was a major political realignment that stretched from coast to coast. Most experts have attributed this Republican landslide to general voter dissatisfaction with Congress, and a lingering voter distaste for President Clinton.
It is only good for democracy when voters actively partake in the electoral process, even when "cleaning house" as they did in this election. Yet in a cataclysmic situation such as that which occurred on Tuesday, some disappointing results are bound to occur.
Not disappointing because the victors were poor candidates, but disappointing because both candidates were deserving of winning office. In Texas, both Ann Richards, the losing incumbent and George Bush Jr., the winning challenger were qualified to be that state's governor. And in Pennsylvania, both Harris Wofford, the losing Democrat, and Rick Santorum, the winning Republican, were admirable candidates.
It was disappointing to see dedicated public servants of either party lose z-- especially while candidates such as Marion Barry, the convicted, drug abusing mayor of Washington D.C. and Representative Mel Reynolds of Illinois, an indicted child pornographer, won their races.
Yet, at the end of this election season, I still find it refreshing to once again have seen the voting stage of our democratic process having taken its course. I only hope that both Clinton and the new Republican House and Senate will follow through on their duty to the American people to serve in the best interest of all of us.