Matt Pearl

For those of you wanting a big election write-up, I hate to disappoint: deadlines are deadlines, and I can’t write a story on Election Day from results that I haven’t seen, from totals that haven’t yet been tallied.

It’s kind of freeing in a way: not knowing the winners of anything as I write this, the situation allows me to present a unique perspective. No matter what happens (happened) on election Day, I can guarantee that a few simple principles remain true:

Half of the country is overjoyed, half dismayed over the results of the presidential race– that is, I should say, if we have any clue how the race ended by the time you read this. For those of us who waited and waited in 2000, we know what it’s like when swing states can’t get their business together.

For the most part, politicians have spent the last several months convincing you that everything on your ballot was life-or-death. Does that surprise you? How can politicians justify their own importance without making you believe that a good vote will save you, and that a bad vote will bring about the downfall of Western civilization?

You’ve heard from each side how dangerous the other perspective is. Let me tell you the only thing that your Washington politicians fear: you. And they should. You have tremendous power to exact change, to stand on your principles and think for yourself.

The problem is, for the past several months, most of us have been joining sides and thinking like everybody else. And our politicians just sit back and laugh.

I mean, if you and I are fighting each other and assuming that our party is the party of virtue, we are less likely to do our homework; we are less apt to look into verifiable data about our public servants, information that could open our eyes or turn away our allegiance to them. A nation full of Facebook experts slinging criticism and profanity at one another seems to me like an easier bunch to control than a country of thoughtful fact-seekers.

Who is easier to fool–an informed population, or a mass of folks who can be swayed by emotional appeals and shadows of fears? We should love our families with all our hearts but seek to keep a level head when it’s time to enter the voting booth.

But America is too rapidly becoming a nation filled with folks who seek to have their opinions spoken back to them, a people who have grown so lacking in creativity that they have increasingly begun to identify themselves by the way they vote every four years.

If I live an average lifespan–that’s about 76 years for a man in America–I’ll have thousands upon thousands of moments to prove my character to others, to live by my morals and to follow the virtues that matter most to me. At the most, by the time you add up all the trips to the polls, I’ll still only spend a few hours of this life voting.

But my vote is what is supposed to define me as a man? I acknowledge that it’s important, but what about how I run my home, my life, my business, my classroom – huh? What about those things?

I find it both irritating and naïve that so many of my friends and acquaintances feel that our elected leaders essentially represent the final word on what happens to you and me.

Is that where we are? Have we forgotten that Americanism is a people-first enterprise: you and I get our freedoms, and it is with those very freedoms that we allow those in authority to serve us.

But every couple of years, Washington gets to jump and cheer and capture our national attention for a while, and the egomaniacs in charge just love it.

So that’s it. Elections don’t excite me much anymore, because those happier, quieter months that pass between them are far more pleasant to me. I’m not alone. Will you miss the election ads? I didn’t think so.

To our local public servants who are face-to-face accountable for the work they do, you have my respect and my blessing. But these days, I could hardly care less about Washington and its ridiculous charade. Their 15 minutes are up.

Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.