Looking ahead as election craziness nears end

Home / Gazette Column / Looking ahead as election craziness nears end

Rejoice, fellow Iowans. We’ve outlived the seemingly never-ending stream of political nastiness that attempted to hijack our lives — not to mention our mailboxes, streetscapes, televisions, Web browsers and radios.

If you, like me, have found shelter from the murky deluge in books and podcasts, now is the time to roll back the rock and re-enter the world anew. Fair warning: We’ve missed the best of the fall colors, and it’s quite a bit colder out there.

No matter who garners the most votes on Tuesday, the candidate signs will soon come down or be covered by snow. And, much to the abject joy of our Opinion Team, letter writers will consider fresh topics. Television ads will once again offer clear pictures of people’s faces and soundtracks less suited to Dracula’s death march through unsuspecting European villages.

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge spans the Mississippi River, connecting Illinois with Missouri. Once a part of Route 66, the bridge with its iconic 30-degree bend is now home to pedestrian traffic.
The old Chain of Rocks Bridge spans the Mississippi River, connecting Illinois with Missouri. Once a part of Route 66, the bridge with its iconic 30-degree bend is now home to pedestrian traffic. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)

Let’s hope there is at least a day or two where we all, regardless of political persuasion, take time to salute the winners. Vibrant democracies require regular and constitutional changes in government. And while I hold no magic portal into the future, none is required to know that this particular midterm election will bring change.

Iowans will soon wave farewell to public servants who have well served our state.

Sen. Tom Harkin has left his fingerprint on numerous pieces of legislation that have resulted in a more just society, especially for those with disabilities. During his first year in Congress, Harkin successfully petitioned for a link between U.S. aid to foreign countries and human rights violations.

Rep. Tom Latham, one of the nation’s few remaining true moderates and bridge builders, quietly positioned himself as an opponent of addictions and a proponent of fiscal conservatism. Iowa’s law on sales of pseudoephedrine intended to combat methamphetamine production and addiction has Latham’s federal push at their core. During the 2013 government shutdown, Latham was one of the first lawmakers to request his salary be suspended, and one of only two Iowa federal officials to do so.

The list of accomplishments for both men stretch long and Iowans will be very fortunate indeed if their predecessors accomplish even a fraction of the good that’s come before.

At earlier points in our country’s history, such “big picture” items were how elections were decided. Elections today have focused on the minutiae, which I believe has been a boon to marketers and special interest groups, but a disservice to the voting public. We should balk at the prospect of good people being reduced to caricatures for political sport.

So, look the winners in the eye and say, “I look forward to working with you.” Shake the hands of those brave enough to put themselves out there and tell them, “I appreciate that you were on the ballot and your contributions to the public conversation.” If you are so inclined, ask how you can be a part of work to move specific policy items forward, win or lose.

Because, if there is one thing all Iowans understand quite well, it is that there is always another election just around the bend.

This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on Nov. 2, 2014.