The weeding-out process of primaries and caucuses is a distant memory. It was a busy stretch on the long road to the Oval Office, a road littered with campaign debris. This is my calculation of what it took to get to the finish line: hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the candidates and their PACs; hundreds of thousands of words spouted from commentators, pundits, surrogates, debaters and television anchors; two political conventions, party platforms and balloons; miles of newsprint reporting campaign details, speeches, opinions, positions and endorsements; thousands of national ad buys, unfortunately most negative; an Internet gone wild with speculation and conspiracy theories; endless head-spinning polls; countless yard signs, bumper stickers, and buttons; and enough hot air from the candidates to float an armada of hot air balloons.
Money, words, stuff and hot air. That’s the recipe for the best man to rise to the top and float into office on promises. Elect me for a better America. I’ll fix the economy and create more jobs. I’ll protect the country from terrorists. I won’t raise your taxes. You’ll pay a little more taxes if you’re well off. Trust me — I have the best plan.
It’s almost too much information to absorb, even for a political junkie like me. My brain is saturated. I’m overloaded and need to take a break from situation rooms, rundowns, meetings of the press, hardball, and Joe in the morning.
Wading through hot air in search of answers is tiresome. There are competing facts and figures and so much spin that the media has fact checkers and truth meters. It’s an uphill journey through murkiness, but it’s our job as voters to sift through it all and come out enlightened. This is democracy at work and it’s what we wanted. Remember that this country fought the Revolutionary War to reject the divine right of kings and earn the right to govern ourselves. We want our leadership to be decided by one-man-one-vote, so voters need to be informed.
Citizens will cast their ballots for the next president and leader of the free world, the Electoral College will officially elect him, Hail to the Chief. That is, barring an election fluke producing a split decision requiring legal intervention. Remember Florida’s hanging chads in 2000? Worse case scenarios are out there, but I’m counting on a smooth glide to the victory lane and the obligatory concession speech.
From afar being president looks like a thankless job. On the plus side there are perks, great public housing, and Air Force One. But on the down side, he has to work with a Congress beset with gridlock, a sometimes hostile media, and daily intelligence briefings that would scare the daylights out of me. And don’t forget the 3 a.m. telephone calls.
I know what it will be like after the votes are counted. Like every competition, those on the winning side will celebrate, supporters on the losing side will be unhappy, but our democracy will endure.
What do I want to happen after the inauguration in January? Politics is the art of compromise. Instead of being regarded in Washington as a dirty word, I hope our national leaders will restore compromise to its lofty place so things can get accomplished with bi-partisan cooperation. I hope citizens will support the president while holding him accountable for the promises he made while travelling that long road to the highest office in the land.
I hope there will be world peace in my lifetime.
But next week, I hope everyone will vote.
Murphy is a member of the Carrollton Creative Writers Club and the Carrollton Civic Woman’s Club. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org