11.02.2008

We Made It to the Beginning

This has been a particularly exhausting presidential campaign.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, streets have been
pounded and doorbells rung, and tempers flared. Not a few people are
vocalizing their relief that it all ends on November 4.

Only it doesn't. Unless you think that this whole thing is about who
wins. Or you are a campaign pundit, and so the campaign itself is
your reality.

But for the rest of us, this is about the political process, hopefully
fairly yielding a candidate who will then in two months be inaugurated
as the nation's 44th president. And that very political process,
however much you do or don't like it, having yielded a winner, now
requires us to stay involved, stay informed, stay vocal.

If your side wins, good luck to you; you've made some lofty promises
and you have the harder task, having rallied half the nation, to rally
the whole nation behind getting some of it done. If you side loses,
stay in the game; you are a "check" in the ever-important checks and
balances that makes our nation so great.

It will annoy me to no great end if the major tenor of post-election
expression is to gloat over victory or complain about defeat. And yet
I fear this will be the overriding temptation, especially after a
campaign as long and hard-fought as this one. If you win, remember
what you've won: the right to lead, a sober responsibility if there
ever was one. And if you lose, remember the bigger picture: our
democracy is the world's best in part because we lose graciously and
non-violently.

It's been a long haul. On November 4, we will have made it. To the
starting line. Where the real work truly begins. Let's act like it.

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