Regardless of party affiliation, many of us are still dumbfounded by the results of the November 5th election. Surprises were everywhere and at every level – school board,.... Regardless of party affiliation, many of us are still dumbfounded by the results of the November 5th election. Surprises were everywhere and at every level – school board, county commissioner, state legislature, Governor, U. S. Congress. Nearly every state can point to at least one upset.
Now that the dust is beginning to settle, the “claiming and blaming” has begun and there’s plenty to go around. “The Republicans had so many wins because they had so much money.” “The Democrats lost because they didn’t have enough money.” “ The Republicans slipped in on the coat tails of President Bush.” “The Democrats didn’t have a clear message.” The explanations and accusations go on and on ranging from the truly thoughtful to the absurd.
The fact of the matter is, while the Republicans won a majority at the federal level – they now hold more seats in Congress than the Democrats, many of the races were very, very close and some are still undecided. Some will claim that the Republican victories pave the way for a Republican landslide in 2004, others see the outcome as a prelude to a very bitter Presidential contest two years from now.
It is clear that citizens of this country are pretty evenly divided in their approach to government. But voters up and down the political spectrum appear to be in agreement in their dislike of the way campaigns are conducted. There seems to be a true mandate for campaigns that are shorter, less intrusive, and more positive. Voters may be less concerned with who has a few more seats than with who can get our elected representatives to make decisions that will benefit this country.
On the surface, it appears that Minnesota followed the same course as many other states, but our situation is far more complicated. Although Republicans now hold more offices than anyone expected, factors were at play here that did not exist in other states. The historic, tragic, unprecedented loss, only days before the vote, of an incumbent senator running for re-election in Minnesota, created a volatile and unpredictable electorate. No one could have called the outcome.
Norm Coleman and Vice-President Mondale had to bring their cases to an electorate undone by the shock of Senator Paul Wellstone’s death. They handled it with courage. Vice President Mondale, although a formidable opponent, did not seek to re-launch his political career. Nevertheless, he made a bold stand for a large segment of Minnesota’s populace that has often felt disenfranchised. He evoked Wellstone’s memory in the most positive sense, and fared admirably despite the odds against such a short political campaign. I think every Minnesotan was proud of him.
Coleman, too, showed class in victory. It could not have been easy mounting a new campaign strategy following the tragic death of your opponent. Now, victory gives him the opportunity he’s been hoping for — the opportunity to change the tone in Washington.