Timing is everything. That’s especially true, I’ve discovered, for a columnist whose recurring slot on the Opinion page happens to land on the Wednesday following the first Tuesday in November.
Assembling a newspaper is somewhat akin to putting together a puzzle, but with a deadline. And some of the pieces won’t be available until hours, or occasionally minutes, before they’re needed.
In order to get a jump on things our illustrious editor quite reasonably requests that columnists submit their offerings two days before publication, giving staff at least a few pieces to work with as the rest trickle in.
Thus I’m clicking out this column the night before the election and wondering: How many people will bother to vote? For which candidates? What ramifications will our collective decisions have for the future?
Those of you so inclined, on the other hand, have already learned the answers to those first two questions and are in the early stages of formulating opinions with regards to the third.
Lacking, at this juncture, your insight as to where we may be headed, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been.
Politics has grown increasingly divisive over the past decade or more, and it’s only accelerated of late.
Disparaging the character, motives and intelligence of those on the “wrong” side of the political aisle has become the norm.
A lot of folks want to blame President Trump. While he certainly hasn’t helped matters, I submit Trump is largely riding this wave of negative energy rather than creating it.
In his piece last Sunday headlined “Preserving America’s soul,” my fellow columnist and occasional mentor John Skipper cited a couple examples of past American statesmen demonstrating, well, statesmanship.
Skipper reported hearing Senator Bob Dole shut down a supporter for trashing President Bill Clinton, against whom he was running.
“We’re opponents,” Dole said, “not enemies.”
Similarly, John McCain largely eschewed mudslinging and once referred to President Obama as “a fine decent man who I happen to disagree with on many issues.”
I fear it’s no coincidence both Dole and McCain lost while “Lock Her Up” Trump won.
Nice guys, it seems, indeed finish last, perhaps because (to borrow from Skipper again) “as a nation we are better at finger-pointing than problem-solving.”
It will continue to be so as long – and only as long – as we continue to let it be so.
Regardless of how the election unfolded, roughly half of you will be pleased and the other half disappointed.
Whichever camp you’re in, you have a choice.
The winners can strut, gloat and then claim a “mandate” to enact their own agenda and/or undermine the other party’s despite winning only slightly more than half the vote.
The losers can brood, sulk, lay blame and vow to thwart the newly elected at every turn.
Or we can all acknowledge those who disagree with us vehemently on key issues might nonetheless be caring, intelligent, well-intentioned people deserving of common courtesy and respect.
As we contemplate how to proceed in the aftermath of this most recent political fray, I join Skipper in pleading: Llet’s start by being civil to one another.”
* * *
Congratulations to Lerynne West of Redfield, who recently claimed a Powerball jackpot of nearly $344 million.
West plans to share her winnings with family and friends, purchase a new car, travel and make donations to charity.
No doubt she’ll still be left with a great deal of money to invest.
Hey Lerynne, any chance you’d be interested in buying a gently used shopping mall and building a luxury hotel and convention center?
If so, lady, have we got a deal for you!
Tim Ackarman, a regular columnist for the Globe Gazette, lives in Miller.