On the day after Election Day* I felt some commentary to be necessary, so I struggled to find something about our political system that is better now than in the past.
I considered the 19th Amendment: that’s a significant improvement. But I’m not so old that I was ever disenfranchised because of my sex, so it doesn’t really count.
The 26th Amendment did make a difference in my life, but I have mixed feelings about that one, seeing as extending the voting age downward corresponded with an upward movement of the age of responsible maturity.
Much about our political system has taken a turn for the worse during my lifetime. (I’m not saying it was always better—we’re not longer literally tar-and-feathering our opponents.) But one positive change I am thankful for on this third day of November is openness.
I hate the in-your-face media and constant coverage that have produced campaigning-by-sound bite and taken away any vestige of private life for those seeking to enter political service. But recent years have also brought—through media coverage and through legislation—more light and transparency to government and to the people who run it, and that is a very good thing.
Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made — John Godfrey Saxe
True. But both sausages and laws are good things, and the call of people like Michael Pollan and Temple Grandin for slaughterhouses to have glass walls finds its parallel in political Sunshine Laws, the Freedom of Information Act, and other efforts to bring government out of the shadows of the smoke-filled room.** Transparency and openness bring some difficulties and inefficiencies, but do much to prevent, detect, and excise rottenness, be it in our food supply or in our government.
That’s something that’s better now than in the not-so-distant past, and I’m thankful.
I’m also thankful this morning that Daniel Webster is going to the House of Representatives from Florida—and with an overwhelming victory. I was not able to vote for him, as we are not in his district. But I’ve respected him for many, many years even though there we certainly have our areas of disagreement. Quoting from the Orlando Sentinel, which despite their liberal inclinations endorsed conservative Webster,
Mr. Webster was a Republican state legislator for nearly three decades whose civility and statesmanship earned him the admiration of Democrats. He wasn't just a nice guy; he was effective. He played a leading role in raising education standards, reforming welfare and opening lawmaking to more public scrutiny.
Webster credited the results to his grass-roots support and his decision to run a positive campaign.
"Most of the time, negative campaigning works, and a lot of people cringed when I said I would run a positive campaign. We just felt like it was the right thing to do," Webster said. "I'm not going there to change places with the Democrats. We've got to do things differently. We've got to change the process."
It’s refreshing to see good character and a positive outlook win over bombast, negativity, and lots of money.
On a more personal note, Daniel Webster was also largely responsible for the legal protection home education enjoys in Florida, and for that I will always be very, very thankful!
*Yes, despite the push for early and absentee voting, I walked into my local polling place and cast my ballot on Election Day. I also like to enter our church through the traditional red doors instead of the new glass doors.
**Is “smoke-filled room” a political anachronism in these relatively smoke-free days?