An Engaged Electorate

I have long believed that as a country we are separating toward the polar limits of the political spectrum, often losing the compromise, common sense and governance that can be found in the middle.
But it hasn’t been until I began a grand experiment as a moderate journalist in talk radio on JET Radio 1400 that I have heard the extent of that division firsthand.
Sadly, it seems that as a country we have completely forsaken the ability to listen to each other and like the pundits in the 24-hour cable news cycle simply stand on the extremes of zealousness ranting at the world and shaking our collective fists at the sky.
Certainly holding one of the most divisive elections in modern history did little to dampen that fire as race, sex, sexual persuasion and economic standing all deepened the trenches within the voting public.
“Hillary for Prison 2016!”
“Love Trumps Hate!”
“Fake news from the liberal press!”
At first glance there’s real reason to believe that the country is on the brink of a political dysfunction from which there is no return.
But a funny thing happened on the way to disaster.
America for the first time in a long time has an engaged electorate. You can see it in the rallies both for and against President Trump. You can hear it in the daily calls to talk radio. And even more importantly you can see it in the number of people willing to run for office this year. When was the last time you can remember 10 people running for Erie Mayor, seven or eight for Erie City Council and another six running for Millcreek Supervisor?
Incumbents like County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper who in the past would have had an unopposed walk to a second term are now seeing opposition and from both parties to boot.
Don’t get me wrong. I have my share of concerns about the current president. “Obama bugged my phone!” Really Mr. President? But there is also plenty of proof that a lightning rod like Donald Trump can not only exaggerate our differences but also energize our resolve.
And it also speaks to the grandeur of an election system that can rise above the foibles of any individual candidate or race simply by giving everyone a voice.
And that’s not all a bad thing.

2 thoughts on “An Engaged Electorate

  1. Scott Bremner

    UPDATE: By the deadline to file petitions there were 19 (19!) people running for Erie City Council. That’s a record at least for what my brain remembers and further proof of the point the column attempts to make.


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