Monday, December 6, 2010

Wait Until the Next Time

We’ve had another election in our country, and the most important thing about it was what didn’t happen.

American government is not especially honest. Illinois isn’t a good example for other countries. If there were an alumni association for Illinois politicians its largest chapter would probably meet in a penitentiary. Republicans and Democrats have both stolen votes. This is the one part of our political system that is truly bi-partison.

The things candidates say about one another bear no relationship with reality. If they did, no one would want to live in their neighborhood. All of these things are politics as usual in this country. What isn’t usual is what happens after the election.


After the election there were no crowds breaking windows. No riots in the streets. There were no bombs or gunshots. There was only a quiet and orderly acceptance of what has been done.

The outcome of the election is usually accepted. If it is not; the dispute is continued in the courts, not on the street. This post-election calm is not because there is nothing serious at stake in our political contests. There are important differences between the various candidates. The future of the nation is at stake. The kind of nation their children will live in will be determined.

The best candidates won’t always be chosen. The wrong decisions will made. The Americans will be self-serving as often as any other people. We know well the skills of bribery, fraud and political corruption. Everyone knows that our elections are not perfect, but they are too close to perfect to be discarded.

But we also know that when the election is over, it is over. We will not destroy the nation in order to impose our will on it.. The measure of our success is the number of retired rulers left alive. The mark of a mature democracy is the ability to change the government without violence.

Not many countries have ever managed to do this. We have done it for generations, not because of our virtues but because we know the value of restraint. We will be free and our government will be safe only for as long as we protect it.

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