Getting elected is the easy part

November 16, 2022 3:00 am

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With the 2022, $16.7 billion midterm election (almost) in the books, whats left to do is to count any outstanding votes, pull up yard signs and, in Nebraska, start thinking about what to wear for our voter ID photos. I heard they are going to be strict on the Groucho nose and glasses getups. Oh, and the Scream masks? Not happening.

Enough about solving problems that dont exist. Post-elections are always a good time to ask a simple yet surprisingly rare question: Now what? Lets start with props to the winners and the losers for having the courage to put their names on the ballot and be open to public service. With the victors, too, goes the hope that they will be graced with wisdom, compassion, open-mindedness, honesty, impartiality and intelligence.

Winners will soon understand that getting elected is the easy part. As history teaches, anyone can do it. Some have overdone it.

But actual governing? Not that easy, nor simple. Governing is the reward — of sorts — for all those hours on and all that money strewn along the campaign trail.

Pro tip: Complaining, posturing and pushing platitudes are neither ideas nor solutions and have nothing to do with governing and real leadership. Nor are they principles of debate and argumentation, cornerstones of the give and take of democracy.

Governing takes more than just pummeling your opponent with negative ads, innuendo and ad hominem attacks. Governing takes ideas, some of which are complex and nuanced and fully baked. Governing takes leaders who can explain the complexities and consequences of proposed policies and laws to all of the people: those who pulled the lever for them, those who pulled it for someone else and those who did neither. The old saw that nonvoters cant complain carries no weight when governing is required and expected.

Nor do the numbers lie. Gov.-elect Jim Pillen won by a sizable margin over Carol Blood, 60%-36% of the vote. He did that with 394,843 votes, which, if you do the math, represent less than 32% of eligible Nebraska voters and none of the under-18s whose lives, too, are impacted by policies written and signed by a governor in Lincoln.

So the short answer to Now what?” is governing, which is a far more complex and important process than getting elected.

Speaking of complexity, we pundits, pollsters and media types got much of the midterms wrong. Predicating a red wave” and following it with reinforcing stories and columns missed the mark.

Ill leave further forecasting (and garment rending) to the math jockeys and others brighter than I. Still, I have a clearly unscientific sense of what may have happened, a hunch that perhaps were easing back into our permanent parking place on Democracy Street.

Not all but many election deniers lost across the country, including secretary of state races where some candidates had promised to do away with democratic voting norms … in line with their embrace of the Big Lie.

One secretary of state winner, in Nevada, said this: People are tired of chaos. They want stability; they want normalcy; they want somebody whos going to be an adult .…”

Perhaps were done moving toward the normalization of wacko. Perhaps weve had it with praising Vladimir Putin and playing footsie with Viktor Orbán and his Hungarian regime now dubbed an electoral autocracy” by the European Union. Perhaps the nonsense of litter boxes in schools, piffles such as Pizzagate,and a communist behind every difference of opinion will abate.

Maybe most were tired of the blatant lying — or more to the point, the non-consequences of lying? In a post-truth world when feelings are more important than facts, when facts have alternatives, when fake news and deep fakes have a following, maybe we simply want a return to the repercussions of deceit, a return to the importance of truth.

Maybe we’re out of patience with the Big Lie, produced and promoted by the former president,who, according to the Washington Post, which kept track, publicly lied 30,561 times in his four years in office, improving his horse hockey rate from 492 times in the first 100 days of his presidency to 502 whoppers the day before the 2020 presidential election, a knickers-bursting-into-flame mark by any measure.

Keeping up with that chaos is exhausting. Maybe the midterm outcomes really do mean the adults have returned, and we can indeed get some rest

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George Ayoub
George Ayoub

George Ayoub filed nearly 5,000 columns, editorials and features in 21 years as a journalist for the Grand Island Independent. His columns also appeared in the Omaha World-Herald and Kearney Hub. His work has been recognized by the Nebraska Press Association and the Associated Press. He was awarded a national prize by Gatehouse Media for a 34-part series focusing on the impact of cancer on families of victims and survivors. He is a member of the adjunct faculty and Academic Support Staff at Hastings College. Ayoub has published two short novels, “Warm, for Christmas” and “Dust in Grissom.” In 2019 he published “Confluence,” the biography of former Omaha World-Herald publisher and CEO John Gottschalk.