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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Thank God it’s finally Election Day

You know that recurring dream in which you’re running and running toward something, but never catch it? Instead, you wake up frustrated, having just brushed your fingertips against whatever mysterious entity you’ve been chasing. And you know how, after that particular dream, it doesn’t feel like you’ve slept at all?

That’s how the lead up to today’s midterm elections felt. It’s as if we’ve been moving inexorably toward a day that would never actually come.

Americans have been through the wringer these last few months. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer uttered (or rather, failed to utter) the awkward pause heard round the world. Arizona Sen. John McCain went from maverick to not-so-much at record speed. Delaware Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell was a witch, then wasn’t a witch, then suddenly was just “”you.”” Democrats all over the country bullied and belittled their bases, then begged for their votes. And candidates, pundits and average citizens slung so much mud, it felt more like a frat party in a Van Wilder movie than anything so grown-up as major elections.

No wonder we’re exhausted.

But unlike that dream, where the thing you’re chasing never actually materializes, all the dirty, fearful, uncivilized nonsense of the midterm election season will actually culminate in something fairly civilized: an election.

By now, the ballots have been cast, or are about to be. Exit polls are beginning to emerge, and the next several years of American politics are taking shape. For better or worse — our money’s on better — it’s all going to be over soon.

Now, the real work starts. Now it’s time to watch the leaders elected today take the helm and actually lead, rather than pose and preen on TV spots and at stump speeches. Hopefully, we’ll see that we’ve collectively made the right choices and voted into office individuals who will represent their constituents and their nation admirably.

In all likelihood, though, at least half the population won’t feel that way at all. And therein lies the nation’s most important task. Because tomorrow, like it or not, it’s over. All the money and campaigning and slick speech-making in the world won’t be able to alter the outcome, and Americans of all political stripes will have to get on with their lives and continue to work with and trust their government.

In Arizona, that may be particularly difficult. In most state races, the Republican and Democratic candidates have painted themselves as diametric opposites. Negative campaigning has given voters the impression that if the wrong candidate is elected, all kinds of apocalyptic events will ensue. Social Security payments will dry up instantly or a horde of bloodthirsty Mexican drug lords will pour across the border, depending on which party you’re listening to.

In reality, none of that’s true. Whoever wins these elections will have the responsibility of making some tough, important calls in Arizona, on issues ranging from the border to health care to funding education. But the world we live in isn’t going to disappear overnight. That’s what’s so great about democracy. No one person — indeed, no one party — has the ability to make that happen.

Now that election season is over, perhaps we can turn the volume of American politics down a few notches and remember that, win or lose, we’re lucky to live in a country whose government we actually choose. Nov. 3 should not be a day on which the winners gloat and the losers sulk. Instead, both parties should step off the campaign trail for a moment and acknowledge that regardless of today’s outcome, elected officials are still going to have to work together. The kind of partisanship that has marred this election mustn’t be a part of the newly elected officials’ governing strategy, lest the government itself grind to a screeching halt.

The theatrics are over; now, it’s time to govern. After all, before you know it, the 2012 presidential campaign will be in full swing.

Enjoy the relative sanity while it lasts.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Heather Price-Wright, Luke Money, Colin Darland and Steven Kwan. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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