Hang on. In one more day, it’ll all be over. The worst election campaign in my lifetime, and probably yours, will be over. Finally we the voters, not the consultants, super-PACS or pundits, will become the prime actors.
Campaigns are what candidates do. Elections are what voters do, in one private, sacred moment on the first Tuesday in November. I hope all of you eligible to vote tomorrow will do so.
Though God knows, few of us will feel particularly great about what led up to the sacred moment.
At the presidential level, we have incumbent Barack Obama, who, despite his reputation as an orator, seemed for most of the year incapable of explaining what he’s done in office, or what he’d do if re-elected.
On the other side, we had a challenger who, despite being a man of obvious gifts, decided in the last month that the only way he could win was to lie constantly about his own record and his opponent’s.
Mitt Romney still might end up being a fine president, but it would rankle that a person could win the Oval Office through such staggering mendacity.
Our Congress operates, meanwhile, at an historically low level of public approval. Yet, around here, if polls are to be believed, every last mediocre incumbent in the tri-state region will be re-elected. Such is the power of incumbency and public inattention.
And this doesn’t even get to the Pennsylvania state legislature. The only way we turn over seats in Harrisburg, it seems, is when an elected member is led away in handcuffs. That happens with amazing regularity, yet there is no public outcry to throw the bums out.
This campaign, haunted by an avalanche of super-PAC dollars, has left the electorate feeling battered, anxious and cranky.
But I retain a fond, patriotic hope.
No matter the results tomorrow, I hope this election does not leave you feeling your fellow voters are something alien, evil, not fully American. We get too far much of that nonsense from our candidates.
I know that tomorrow, millions of Americans who are decent, good people who’d I’d love to have as neighbors and friends will vote differently from me.
I’m much more interested in focusing on the identities that bind me to them — American, parent, child, baseball fan — than on fomenting anger over the political identities where we differ. Save the venom for the public figures who have earned it; don’t let it spill over into how you react to fellow citizens.
Tomorrow is election day. Celebrate the moment, cast your vote, then accept the result.