EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: What have we learned? | SierraSun.com
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EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: What have we learned?

Nik Dirga, Sierra Sun Editor

My aunt lives in Florida. I don’t know how she voted this election – although I come from a pretty Republican family -but I’m sure she’s glad she did.

Did you vote?

One of the figures that’s kept jumping into my mind in this numbers-intensive week is the vote in New Mexico. For a few days there, they were saying the difference between the two candidates there was a mere four votes. That’s since been adjusted again, but really -four votes. Four people.

Throughout the country, we’ve seen margins that seem impossible to believe – 300 votes in Florida, a state of 6 million voters. A few thousand in Oregon, Iowa and other states.

It’s been said so often this past week that it’s become even more of a cliche than it was to start with, but some cliches endure because they are true. Every vote does count. The Gore/Bush election will be listed in the future right up there with other impossibly close elections, used as a benchmark for just how close things can get.

Just think – the entire population of Truckee would be enough to decide the election differently in many states of the country. A few blocks in Tahoe Donner, transplanted to Florida, could have decided this election.

So, did you vote?

My wife comes from a foreign country that has close to 90 percent voter turnout in all elections. It boggles her mind that barely half of America’s registered voters usually show up at the polls. Indeed, in many countries, America’s dismal turnout record is simply beyond understanding.

Whenever the tangled web of lawsuits and recounts surrounding Election 2000 finally get resolved, one hopes that it’ll have sent a message to the brains of the non-voters out there -if that happens, and future elections see a markedly improved turnout, in my view this whole drawn-out farce will have been worth it.

Too many of my fellow journalists have given themselves over to hyperbole during this election -it’s a constitutional crisis! It’s a disaster for democracy!

But armed mercenaries aren’t exactly storming the gates of the White House just yet. We will have a president come Inauguration Day, be it Bush or Gore or some other wacky alternative. We’ll get through it all right, and even if the candidate you favored doesn’t win, our lives won’t change all that much. Neither will have a mandate for major change, and neither will be able to get in much trouble over the next four years.

We’ve endured a Civil War, a couple of impeachments, slavery, many wars, domestic unrest and the inexplicable success of Jerry Springer and the Spice Girls. The republic will survive.

This whole wacky, drawn-out process is democracy in action. It’s a little messy, a little confusing, and a little embarrassing.

But it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternatives.

So, did you vote?

(Sierra Sun editor Nik Dirga grew up in Nevada County. )


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