It’s finally over. Months, no — years of campaigning led to a fated Tuesday where the electorate spoke its solemn wish as prescribed by the founding tenants of our country. Those roughly disabused of the notion they would take up the mantle of public office can return to their lives, wondering where they went wrong. Those chosen by a mandate of the people (the few who voted anyway) can now get to work doing what all politicians do: Trying to elected next time with a slight possibility of some governing in-between.
I write this from a different world. You may remember it. This column was penned in the hours leading up to the polls closing, before the first in-person vote was counted, well before the last weary volunteers shut down election machines and went home.
In this place, things are different. Think of it as a time capsule. Hope still breaks like rays of sunshine on a cloudy day here, down on Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. There is a disdain, too, for the other side, for the process, even for the people running for office.
Mostly there is a sense of something coming. It’s the deep drawn breath, the calm before the storm. Moments stretch like hours here. It feels so long since the primaries, and time may well stretch to infinity to reach back to when campaigning first began.
It’s worse than losing, that wait, worse than not voting and having your candidate fail by as much.
Whatever comes, victory, defeat, or just ambivalence, there is a sense that any would be better than this. Light, Lord, if I could say just one prayer tonight, it would be this: Let it be over.
It must be the devil who grants ill-begotten wishes.
The disdain likely remains, the hope long vanished. The sense of waiting is gone, but replaced by what?
Who won? Was it your party? Your candidates? Then … why don’t you feel any different? Sure, the other guy is spited, but that wasn’t the goal of winning. Was it?
There is a legend I once heard, though I may as well speak of ancient myth. Maybe you’ve heard it too. Once upon a time, the American vote was a voice. The individual voter never had much power, but together, raising to sing in unison? That was the republic in all its glory.
The voice sings a little more raggedly these days. I’m confident enough to write it before I know the results. When was the last time more of us voted than not in a mid-term?
Would you be surprised if I told you about the same time as WWI? Of course, the voter pool was a little more limited then. The electorate had less color, if you will, and less femininity. The electorate is more diverse now. For that matter, so are the candidates. Only, it doesn’t feel like it, does it?
There’s no sense of trust, especially with national candidates. You get two real choices, both get on TV and lie with a straight face. You know they do, because you’ve seen it before, in every election for as long as you can remember.
They get elected, then raise money for the next election. Obscene amounts, mostly from one giant company or another or a lobbying interest. Is it any wonder many don’t vote? Do you truly feel represented?
Candidates have different politics at least. Well, sort of. If you examine it closely, though, they don’t feel much different. No matter who’s elected, not much really changes. Sure, an agitated populace sometimes spins out a Donald Trump or two in a vain effort to break the cycle, for better or worse. People feel empowered for a time, lost in a cult of personality.
Regardless, the economy goes through ups and downs, we war with a nation or two, and then we elect the other party, and they do the same thing.
The same cycle, over and over, a wheel turning threads of time into forever.
That’s what makes that waiting just before an election so awful. It’s why, when it’s gone, we miss it. Every couple years, we get to hope again. Things will be different, if only we get out the vote. Only, in the back of our minds, we know it for false. It’s a sickly sweet taint, a breath of life marred by a foul blackness.
Hell and all its devils have come up with more lenient punishment.
And if you’re feeling hopeless right now, like nothing will ever change, well … campaign season is right around the corner.
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Find Small Victories on Facebook.)