Throughout the course of the last 18 months – from the primaries and caucuses throughout the United States to the voters’ forum held in your own backyards – there has been a feeling of anxiousness.
And a consensus of: “I can’t wait for this to be over.”
And, folks, it’s almost over.
But I’m here tonight (or today, whenever you’re reading this) to tell you something else (yeah, I’m sort of quoting Prince there) – the after election.
My point, NWCT readers, is this: This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning.
Maybe your candidate won. Maybe Tuesday night was an exhilarating thrill ride and the conclusion to a drudge of a campaign was all laughs and champagne, chips and dip, hugs and hoorays.
Maybe your guy or gal lost, and the balloons popped at 10 p.m. and you tucked yourself in, begrudgingly, knowing that was it. All that hard work and, really, nothing to show for it.
The politicians said this once or twice on the campaign trail. And in a summer of conception and lies and “half truths” it was the most, honest-to-God, on-point thing anybody said. The election is just the beginning. Who’s going to show up in early January? Who will be there in March as the snows melt and the real governing begins? Who will be out in the audience in July, when you’d rather be at a baseball game on a Tuesday night.
Because, yes, the decisions of the world are made by those who show up. I might have heard that on a television show.
If you don’t like the way the election turned out – show up. If you want to support your candidate who has now become a county commissioner or city council member or school board representative – show up. That candidate-turned member needs you now just as much as he or she needed you in early 2016, or down the stretch knocking on doors and handing out flyers.
The most wonderful thing I’ve seen in this 2016 election is the urgency people have shown in a “I want to get involved” sense. Two years after no one new really wanted to run for one city council, a handful of people showed up. St. Michael has two very qualified candidates for its mayor position, which will get a new face for the first time in several year (Thanks for your service, Jerry!). And the school board has candidates with charisma, character and people with kids’ best interests at heart.
Gang, we have issues. And how. We need to talk about the way we spend money. What about our roads and bridges? Are we doing enough for schools? Will we have to talk about wedge issues, like race and the justice system and maybe even firearms, whether we want to or not. One side or the other is going to bring these issues forward.
We have new schools opening in Elk River/Otsego. We have a multi-million dollar bond issue forthcoming in St. Michael-Albertville. We have a possible boom in commercial construction in Albertville. We have more housing coming in St. Michael and more road traffic than ever before in all these areas.
Does your representative speak for you? Why or why not? Are you showing up to the table when the important issues come around? Are you reading your agenda from the city council, or county, or school board? Or are you missing out?
Yes, you’ve probably elected people before. This isn’t your first rodeo. But as our Republic-style of democracy – truly the only of its kind over the last 240 years – nears its 250th birthday, what are you doing? Are you casting stones on social media, or are you showing up to the party?
Politics are local. Issues are real. And no, the world won’t change Nov. 9 very much, if at all.
But, locally, things will change. That much is certain. And beyond your vote on Nov. 8, how do we want to contribute?
That’s another decision we all have to make.