Distractions aside, 2012 elections now history

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At last, it is over.  Though this column is written before Election Day, I can safely predict the seemingly eternal drone of partisan politics has finally, blessedly ceased, at least for a moment.  The next campaigns, presidential and otherwise, will begin operations tomorrow, I believe, all the better to fool most of the people all of the time.

At last, it is over.  Though this column is written before Election Day, I can safely predict the seemingly eternal drone of partisan politics has finally, blessedly ceased, at least for a moment.  The next campaigns, presidential and otherwise, will begin operations tomorrow, I believe, all the better to fool most of the people all of the time.

What a hard slog it was enduring that stuff. The endless parade of half-truths and fabrications uttered incessantly in sound bites and print, lamentable media coverage aimed more at trivia than truth, and the unrelenting ring of the phone, rife with disembodied voices urging me to do their bidding – it was enough to make one beg for a return to absolute monarchy.  Sure, we’d have no say in how we’d be governed, but we’d have to put up with far less nonsense.

I guiltily note Hurricane Sandy’s horrific destruction was a welcome interruption.  As sobering as it was to witness others’ tragedies, it was damn refreshing to not suffer political talking points at the top and bottom of each hour. 

I wonder how many of us pushed the candidates off our personal front pages long before voting day.  I mean, no matter how much you like your nominee, no one can stand unctuous “vote-for-me” pleas forever (which is how long this latest campaign went), and I certainly could not bear another word from the guy I opposed.  Maybe lots of us simply turned our internal channel from the election race to something lighter and more reality-based, like science fiction.

Halloween proved another happy distraction.  Seeing kids shuffling up the walk for candy did my heart good; besides evoking memories of All Hallows past with my own children, it reinforced my faith in America’s youth.  Any generation that can marshal the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm to reap a bumper crop in America’s annual sugary shakedown, well, they are going to go far.

Still, now that the votes are in, what will we concentrate on?  After all, we’re a people prone to short attention spans.  The running for office thing was nice for a couple years, but we grew tired of it.  The storm-battered east coast let us briefly consider how small our own troubles are.  And costumed revelry proved effective for a couple days’ worth of contented misdirection.

But now that the Executive Office is set for another four years, what will we be concentrating on?  Will the defeated party avenge its loss through repeated obstruction?  Will we redouble our efforts to prove the wrong-minded opposition’s unjust agenda threatens all we hold dear?  At the behest of powerful interests who want to manipulate our fears, we embrace the vilification of those we disagree with?

Or will we reject such distractions, roll up our sleeves, and address problems that need solving?  Will we demand our elected officials spend less time defending lofty principles and more in the difficult work of forging practical solutions?  Will we stop being satisfied with our beloved, simple, black-and-white answers, and accept the complex realities of compromise?

From feeding the hungry and educating children to employing workers and protecting the environment, we face many real challenges as communities and as a nation.  Are we ready to get to work, or are we merely looking for the next distraction?

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com.