As Election Day results get dissected and digested by voters throughout the region, there will be hoopla and heartache.
But will there be any hint of the hoped-for improvement on the horizon?
The promise of any U.S. presidential election – including ones like this, preceded by unusually high amounts of mud-tossing – is that circumstances across the country and even in your household will change for the better if only a certain candidate takes power. He’ll make us great. She’ll make us stronger.
Realistically, statements of that sort are only campaign trail pabulum. (We don’t write that as a knock against Tuesday’s winner in the presidential race or any other contest; as of this writing, we don’t even know which candidates came out on top.)
Yet too many voters in Northeastern Pennsylvania apparently buy into the notion that if they only show up and vote for the “best” candidate, he or she will perform wonders.
That’s not the case, and it puts unrealistic expectations on a single elected leader. Our opinion board has emphasized this nonpartisan point before, in an editorial in early 2009, the day Barack Obama took the oath of office. “Obama supporters who believe this moment, or this man, has a transforming power to ‘fix things’ are setting themselves up for heartache,” the editorial stated.
Similarly, the next occupant of the White House won’t possess the ability to single-handedly cure, for instance, the crippling impact in our area of lost manufacturing. And a Congress featuring a newly chosen mix of Democrats and Republicans won’t magically get past gridlock.
Those things, like most all worthwhile political goals, require persistent work, patience and partnerships.
Your vote on Election Day does serve to reflect your intentions and values; it’s an endorsement of the policies and direction that you prefer your elected officials pursue. Your vote can set things in motion.
Your vote, however, is not enough.
Beyond voting, you and like-minded people in this grand experiment known as democracy need to devote your time and energy to the causes in which you believe. Organize. Advocate. Fundraise. Lobby. Petition. Reform.
Don’t simply “watch politics;” participate in it.
That’s what citizens do.