Reflections on the Election of 2016

The election of 2016 is over.  There are probably some races somewhere in the U.S. that are still in doubt, some recounts in local elections that are still going on, but the big decisions have been made.  Those decisions will affect all of us, and they’ll affect us for a long time.  Elections really do have consequences.

We should be grateful to all of the people who ran for office, the ones who were willing to serve and to take the risk of losing.  Many of them raised important issues and asked important questions.  They contributed ideas as well as time and energy and hard work.   We should wish the winners well.  We should want them to succeed, not for themselves, not just for the people who voted for them, but for all of us.  Some will try to do that.  Others won’t.  If we’re lucky, some of them will learn that governing is harder than complaining and saying no, and some of them will learn that bringing people together is harder than driving them apart.

The results of the presidential election were surprising to a lot of people in the U.S. and to people around the world.  A lot of pollsters, pundits, and politicians got it wrong, but a lot of people have come to expect that.  The process takes a long time.  A lot of things can go wrong, and a lot of them usually do.  Democracy can be messy, but it’s still the best system anyone has come up with.  We’ll have another peaceful transition of power.  George Washington retired after two terms.  Four years later Thomas Jefferson won the election and John Adams packed up and went home.  It’s what we do.  This is a nation of laws.  We get to make the choices, and we live with the results.  But we stay involved.  We pay attention.  We speak up.  We tell our leaders what we think, and we hold them responsible for their choices and their actions.

Some people sat this election out.  Some people sit them all out.  One reason seems to be that they don’t like the candidates and don’t think any candidate deserves their support.  It’s true that some interesting and qualified candidates are eliminated before the rest of us get a chance to weigh in.  But it isn’t reasonable to ignore the selection process and then adopt a too-cool-for-school attitude and skip the election too.  And it isn’t reasonable to vote for a presidential candidate and to skip voting for (or even thinking about) candidates for other offices and then dropping out for four more years.

That’s the thing about elections.   You win some.  You lose some.  This one hurt more than most.  Or any, now that I think about it.  Some of us have already started working on the next one.  Stay involved.  Join us.  You can find us at ridgefielddems.org.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.