By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
I think I’m going to vote for Democrats in the next election. Or, maybe I’ll go with the Republican ticket.
Actually, if I follow my standard protocol, I’ll vote a little of each because there is seldom a full slate of candidates in either party who are more valuable than voting for the individual.
The real question I have to ask myself, and it’s one I’m sure a lot of you are asking these days, is, “Will my vote actually count?”
The answer most assuredly is, yes. But an almost unimaginable cascade of chaos in the last two years has a lot of people wondering if someone’s lurking within our voting machines, waiting to snatch votes. And, after the past few weeks as we watched the creeping vine of corruption further ensnare our national politics, who could blame anyone for wanting to vote at all?
For two years now, we’ve been struggling with the legitimacy of the 2016 election, purportedly affected by Russian meddling, unknown hackers and evil influences. Forget the fact that everyone with a view weighs in on social media and can influence how we vote, we somehow got stuck on the hypothesis that it was Vladimir Putin who handed us the mess we’re in today.
I may be uncertain about a lot of things, but I am rock solid sure of our election integrity. Vlad didn’t help things, but the ballots we cast were ours alone. There hasn’t been a shred of evidence that a fraudulent vote did anything to affect the outcome. Donald Trump employed a great election strategy and Hillary Clinton did not. Trump won. Period.
However, almost from the beginning of his victory, Trump has been so immersed in proving he is president that he’s forgotten to actually be president. When he could have spent two years building confidence in our democracy, he has failed at almost every turn. It started the day after his swearing-in with his preposterous claims about the size of the inaugural crowd. It grew into his daily espousals of innocence, his constant run-ins with the press and foreign leaders, his masterful distraction from fact and revelations about his campaign.
And now, we add suspected criminality, and we flirt seriously with impeachment.
We are perched at the precipice of the most important mid-term vote of our times. Those senators and representatives we place in office in the next term will have to decide what could becoming the thorniest issue of this thorny presidency — whether or not a duly elected commander in chief stays in office. If Republicans hold their majority, the idea of impeachment won’t get far. If not, I expect our country will see a political battle seen few times in our history.
Like many of you, I’m not sure what to think about the ceaseless coverage, but I’m not ready to judge guilt or innocence and neither should you be. I’m not willing to let talking heads, TV coverage and Facebook fanatics do my thinking for me. Let’s let the facts play out.
In the best of times, an off-year election is a test of a voter’s education. Many people don’t know how they’ll vote before they step into the booth and end up surprised by the unfamiliar names on the list. But when you add in the circumstances heading into the fall, this election is significant — perhaps more than at any time. There is no time like the present to get educated. Early voting begins in late September.
Occasionally in our history we’ve become fearful of the unknown. The time before World War II was one of those eras. Watergate was another. So was the Joe McCarthy Communist tirade of the ’50s. We made it through each of those troubling periods because we banded together and had faith in our democracy. John McCain’s recent death reminded us of that.
Franklin Roosevelt challenged us not to let fear get in the way of everything else. That was good advice then, and it is good advice in 2018, as we prepare to count all the votes.
Dennis Grubaugh is editor and partner of the Illinois Business Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or (618) 977-6865.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH