Thank God, the Election Is Over

Editorial Director
Editorial Director

Among all of the presidential elections I’ve covered as a journalist, I’ve long considered the historic showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush as the election to end all elections.

I was assigned to report on the final days of the Gore campaign from its election night headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Every single print reporter, myself included, knew going into Election Day that the matchup would be close. Then, as now, news stories looked at the possibility of the Electoral College being deadlocked, but in the context of an academic question. We didn’t know who would win that November, but we “knew” that we’d emerge from that night knowing who the next president would be.

Boy, were we wrong! Early in the morning, with the vice president sheltered in his limousine outside his hotel, we learned that Florida — which according to various news  organizations citing projections based on exit polling and the progression of the vote count, had been called for Gore and then for Bush — was being  relegated to “too close to call.”

Most of us were outside  behind a barricade separating the press from Gore supporters at the election night party, watching the returns on a giant screen showing CNN. When we learned at that late hour that the nation would have to wait for a decisive victory, we rushed back inside the hotel to the converted ballroom serving as a press filing center to furiously write the stories our editors were waiting for and which virtually no one had anticipated.

The ensuing 36 days were likewise without precedent in modern American history, and I found each one of them — from the counting of the hanging chads to the legal battle working its way through the court system — to be an exciting window into history being made. And as a journalist, I had a front-row seat. When it all ended, part of me wanted the drama to continue.

I’m sorry to say that this time around, the conclusion of this week’s election — equally historic, although for different reasons — hasn’t left me with the same bit of disappointment. I’m happy it’s over.

Voters throughout Baltimore are no different, it seems. As you’ll read in this week’s JT, our community — echoing trends nationwide — was equally tired going into Tuesday’s election. You may have voted based on different concerns and conclusions, but it’s safe to say that you all are ready to move on.

What will that look like?

At the end of the day, we don’t live in a society defined by party. Nor do we live in a world defined by ideology. And regardless of who will take the oath of office come January, no one person, platform or caucus will be able to fix the problems we as a nation face. That kind of herculean effort will require the cooperation of government, of citizens, of organizations — the kind of communal joining of hands alluded to in the “more perfect union” our founding fathers embraced when they wrote the Constitution.

Looking back on the past year, there’s a lot of blame to go around to account for the state of politics today. But if we’re all responsible for getting here, we can also be responsible for where we’re going. And if we recognize that we as a people will achieve so much more than in employing an “us vs. them” mentality, our future is limitless.

On that score, I can be doubly happy. If we can finally close the book on this year’s toxic race for the White House, tomorrow will most certainly be better than yesterday.

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