This column is being written before election day with a schedule for publication the day after the polls close. It may be a bit optimistic to suppose that the results of the many election day contests will be known by the next day, but I surely hope for my own sanity and those I know that the results will be known right away. The eagerness of voters to see these elections over with is evident by the historically high number of persons casting their votes early. In some localities the number of votes cast early eclipsed the total number of votes cast in that place four years ago. The event reported on social media where a voter asked those standing in line how long they had been waiting to vote and got the response “four years!” may not have actually happened, but it certainly captured the sentiment of many including myself that the last nearly four years have been a disaster for our country and its institutions. Pandemic aside we have much to do to restore faith in our institutions and confidence in each other and our communities.
In Virginia there were elections only for federal offices this year as state offices are filled in “off year” elections. Next year voters will choose a new governor–as Virginia governors cannot succeed themselves–lieutenant governor, attorney general and all members of the House of Delegates. While the results for federal offices are just coming in with some congressional races downstate reflecting the wide division of opinions reflected nationwide, there are those who are already lining up for the statewide positions that will be on the ballot next year. If you thought that some space would be freed up on your e-mail accounts with the elections this year being over, think again. Many people have already announced for election next year with more no doubt coming soon from whom you will be receiving pleas for support and of course for funding to make their election possible.
While we understandably might want a respite from politics, the sudden shift in attention to the next election cycle is good news. It shows our faith in the system and our understanding of the need for healing and active work to repair the immense damage of the last nearly four years. The peaceful evolution of power has been a hallmark of the American system of government from its beginning, and the several attempts to disrupt that process have in the long run been over-ridden. I know the threats that have been made about the transition of power this year, but I am counting on an overwhelming vote result that will erase any doubts about the true winners. Over time with leaders who represent true American values we can deal with the needs of American citizens with honesty, decency, compassion, and equality. The people will have spoken, and the results are in. It is time to put the horrors of the recent past behind us and build a stronger country because we have had a glimpse of the alternative!