Our view: Election is over: now what? | CraigDailyPress.com

Our view: Election is over: now what?

Some final thoughts about voting:

The election is over (and, thankfully, so are the recorded messages and mean-spirited TV ads). You’ve gone to the polls and exercised your right to make a difference. So what happens when the candidate you wanted to win loses?

That’s the position many people find themselves in this week.

Nationwide, about 49 percent of voters wanted someone other than George W. Bush in the White House.

Bush’s share of the vote, 51 percent, was the first time a president claimed a majority since his father grabbed 53 percent of the presidential vote against Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988.

In terms of the way we elect presidents, it was a convincing win.

Even so, nearly half of those who cast ballots for president on Tuesday were ready to fire Bush.

As political observers warned, no matter who won the presidency, about half the voting public would be disappointed.

Being on the losing side can be a bitter pill to swallow.

That’s the flip side of democracy — accepting the majority view when it runs counter to your own.

But we remind readers that Election Day should mark the beginning — not the end — of political involvement. Democracy in action isn’t relegated to the voting booth.

If you don’t like the outcome of a race, whether it was for the presidency or county commissioner, now is not the time to throw up your hands.

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and dedicate yourself to effecting change in other ways.

Remember, your elected officials represent you.

They represent you on the city council, in the Legislature, in Congress.

Just because you voted “for the other guy” doesn’t mean you have to divorce yourself from the political process. Contact your representatives on issues that are important to you. Let them know how you feel.

At the same time, we urge readers to give newly elected officials a chance to prove themselves.

Don’t write off your government representatives because they don’t agree with your point of view on an issue.

Look at their voting records over time and how they respond to the needs of constituents.

You might be surprised to learn that you share some common values, regardless of political affiliation.

And don’t forget the relativity of politics.

In practical terms, what’s more likely to have an immediate effect on you — the president’s views on stem-cell research or the location of the new hospital?

That’s not to minimize the importance of the presidency, because we’re all affected by income tax reform or war or other national policies.

But in terms of affecting your quality of life, your local government is more likely to have an effect than the federal government.

Seek opportunities to get involved in the decisions that affect you.

Attend meetings.

Volunteer to serve on a board.

Join a citizens advisory committee that will make recommendations about important local issues to an elected body.

Whatever you do, don’t be a disillusioned voter.

Voting is the embodiment of democracy, but it’s not the only way to have a voice.

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