Democ­racy was real win­ner in midterm elec­tion

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - OPINION -

We have a win­ner.

Not Pres­i­dent Trump. Not Repub­li­cans. Or Democrats.

The big win­ner in last Tues­day’s his­toric midterm elec­tion was democ­racy.

Peo­ple swarmed the polls in record num­bers to make their voices heard in the one place it mat­ters most.

And it wasn’t on Twit­ter or Face­book.

Cit­i­zens in re­cent years have turned up their noses at the midterm and pri­mary elec­tions. With­out the lure of a pres­i­den­tial race at the top of the bal­lot, vot­ers rou­tinely stayed away in droves.

Not so last Tues­day. Per­haps that is due to a name that was not on the bal­lot but who dom­i­nated much of the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

Nov. 6’s ex­er­cise in our most fun­da­men­tal con­sti­tu­tional right was seen by many as a ref­er­en­dum on the first two years of the pres­i­dency of Don­ald Trump.

If noth­ing else, Trump cam­paigned and gov­erned as no pres­i­dent be­fore him.

Last Tues­day, his le­gions of sup­port­ers showed up, along with those vow­ing to use the bal­lot as a mes­sage to the White House.

Women, still sting­ing from some of the pres­i­dent’s com­ments about women who have ac­cused him of mis­con­duct, fueled by a #MeToo move­ment that has swept the na­tion and put the smol­der­ing is­sue of sex­ual ha­rass­ment on the front burner, flooded the polls.

They got re­sults, and you don’t have to look far to find them. In South­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia four women won seats in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as Democrats took back con­trol of that cham­ber.

Mary Gay Scan­lon in Delaware County, Chrissy Houla­han in Ch­ester County, and Su­san Wild and Madeleine Dean were all vic­to­ri­ous.

On Nov. 5, Penn­syl­va­nia had zero women in Wash­ing­ton. To­day they have four.

At one polling place af­ter an­other across the re­gion, the same story played out. Peo­ple were wait­ing in line be­fore the polls opened.

Long lines formed in many ar­eas, and con­tin­ued through­out the day, de­spite a driv­ing rain that fell nearly all morn­ing.

In Delaware County, un­of­fi­cial re­sults showed about 59 per­cent of Delaware County’s 402,804 vot­ers went to the polls. Com­pare that with just a few months back, in the spring pri­mary elec­tion when we nom­i­nated all these peo­ple who were on the bal­lot. Back then only 22 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers in the county both­ered to ex­er­cise their ba­sic right.

There is lit­tle united in these United States these days. Pow­ered by the po­lar­iz­ing po­si­tions of the pres­i­dent, we are a na­tion di­vided.

We sep­a­rate by the very things that once drew us to­gether, peo­ple of all varieties and back­grounds, all eth­nic­i­ties and faiths.

We pro­claimed our­selves a melt­ing pot, and out of that in­tox­i­cat­ing brew grew this glo­ri­ous Amer­i­can ex­per­i­ment.

Part and par­cel of that ex­per­i­ment is the right of the peo­ple to se­lect their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

To­day there are end­less ways to de­liver that mes­sage. We Tweet. We post on Face­book. We text. God, do we text.

Our phones have be­come ex­ten­sions of our hands -– and our minds.

But the the one thing we have not been do­ing in re­cent years is per­haps the most cru­cial obli­ga­tion of ev­ery cit­i­zen.

Democ­racy is a con­tact sport.

To­day more than ever.

A lot of peo­ple are will­ing to talk the talk, but fewer and fewer are will­ing to walk the walk.

That started to change Nov. 6, when vot­ers packed their polling places to make sure their voices were heard.

It is per­haps most ap­pro­pri­ate that we dwell on this topic with Veter­ans Day just passed.

Veter­ans Day is the day when we pause to pay homage to those who laid down their life to pro­tect – and pre­serve – our pre­cious right to vote.

They made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

Sud­denly stand­ing in a line to cast our bal­lot does not seem like that tall a task. Happy Veter­ans Day. Want to tell a vet­eran how much you ap­pre­ci­ate their sac­ri­fice?

Show up at the polls.

Not just in pres­i­den­tial years.

But in midterms. And mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions. And pri­maries.

In short, do what you did so splen­didly last Tues­day.

Give a damn.

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