Local Commentary

Editorial: Always the Next Election

Politics can be like the curse of Sisyphus. Just when you’ve expended every ounce of energy to produce the best results in an election, no sooner has the dust cleared, the pretzel nuggets and red wine stains eradicated from the election-night party rug (not a reference to anyone’s toupee), than another election looms. The next one peeks around the corner, often drawing the most conversation even on the night of the just-ending one. And like the room with infinite mirrors fading back to oblivion, the more astute are pondering the next two, three or even more races to follow.

It’s the kind of seemingly never-ending, on-going process that causes folks to vow to sign up for those deep breathing yoga exercises that help one to live “in the moment,” to relish the process, and not the product. Because there never is a final product. The “Protestant ethic” fixation on results is overwhelmed by the thought of an endless repetition of trying to achieve them. Or maybe we’re just experiencing a little post-election fatigue.

Yes, we remember our youth, when in our first very serious presidential campaign effort we thought that if it didn’t go our way, there would certainly be a nuclear conflagration of the planet within weeks. Low and behold.

Of course, to the cynic, all the hype of each election cycle (“This is the most important election ever!”) is an incredulous appeal to the uninitiated and the still-gullible to pour out their hearts and pocket books. It is true that the main thing the citizen giver gets in return for contributing to a campaign is the opportunity to give more. At least the candidates get to bathe in the glow of ego-stroking celebrity, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the office. The givers get nothing but bulk mailings and calls on Sunday mornings pleading for more.

It is always amusing to encounter a candidate who has mastered the skill of donor identification. He (or she) is looking at you, if not over your shoulder to someone who gives even more, and the little brain is sorting, sorting the caverns of pigeon holes to find yours. You are discovered, along with your campaign contribution history. “Ah yes, how’s everything in (fill in the blank)?”
The citizen has two choices: to respond with glee that the candidate remembered something about her (or him) and to tingle at the notion of being pigeon-slotted (it does make one feel as if one belongs); or, to sputter that although he (or she) may live in some little nook of the candidate’s GPS brain, that’s not what matters. “There’s this big issue that I want to be known by you for,” comes the rejoinder. But at the next fundraiser, it’s back to square one.

Alas, however, we are not cynics. It’s more fun being starry eyed idealists. And, in fact, things often do change for the better, the result of political hard work.