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City Lights: Election Day a hopeful time

October 27, 2010|By Michael Miller

Tuesday, the General Election will be held. After months of tracking the various campaigns — senatorial, gubernatorial and otherwise — it has been a long slog to the finish line. Has anyone else ever wished for a system in which the candidates simply lay low until the first week of October, then engage in one debate and send voters a mailer outlining their positions?

In his novel "1984," George Orwell envisioned a society in which the government keeps the citizens permanently on edge by declaring war against neighboring countries. Sometimes, in modern-day America, I feel as though we live in a state of permanent campaigning. Think back to the buildup to the 2008 presidential election, in which the media spent at least two years debating the virtues of Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney and a dozen or more others.

That election dragged on so long that many people I know essentially avoided newspapers and television for the last six weeks before Election Day. Right now, pundits are speculating whether Obama will win a second term; by the time his first term began last January, I had gotten so accustomed to seeing his face on the news that I felt as though he had been president for four years already. And, of course, the dust had barely settled on his victory when Sarah Palin and the Tea Partyers began digging in their heels for this year's midterms.

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But even at their most annoying and excessive, elections are still the most necessary of evils. The images of Iraqis risking their lives to go to the polls after Saddam Hussein's overthrow, flashing their purple-painted fingers to the camera, served as a reminder of that. And so does the sense of optimism that surrounds almost any campaign, whether for the White House, the governor's mansion or the Huntington Beach City Council.

Some people call Christmas the happiest day of the year. Maybe, but I would nominate Election Day as the most hopeful. A campaign may support Obama or Palin, health-care reform or tax cuts, but it invariably has two things in common: a firm belief in a brighter future, and a conviction that a dedicated group of people can succeed in muscling major political change.

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