I am very thankful for the 1992 Presidential Election. No, I didn’t vote for Bill Clinton. In fact, until his wife’s bid for election as our president last year, there wasn’t a political candidate I’ve despised more in my lifetime than Clinton.
But Clinton’s victory in 1992 taught me what it truly meant to live in a democracy with free elections. I was devastated when Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush. I don’t think I invested more emotional energy in an election before or since that race.
I thought Clinton was a fraud. I believed he was going to do our country serious harm. I’ve since softened my opinion of him (at least somewhat), but at the time I was distraught, furious at a system that could produce him as our president. But, much to my surprise, I was quickly unburdened by all of that negative emotion.
What allowed me to step back from the edge of the proverbial cliff I was standing on was the way Bush and his wife Barbara graciously greeted and welcomed the Clintons into the White House. They showed our entire country what it meant to live in a democratic society that holds free and fair elections. More specifically, they illustrated the peaceful transition of power.
I must say for the record, former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama did the same a year ago. Just as the Bush’s had done so many elections ago, the Obamas set aside personal beliefs and differences to warmly welcome President Trump and wife Melania into the White House.
We all have different moments in our lives that resonate with us, that make us feel the way we do, that form our perceptions and opinions about the community and the world. That was a big one for me. Since 1992, I can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere close to as bitter as I was at the initial results of that Presidential Election. I’ve accepted that is how this democracy works. One election is over and there’s another one to look forward to down the road. It’s also why I’ve been so disappointed with the reaction of some to our last Presidential Election. I just want to scream, “it’s over. Your candidate lost. Stop trying to create turmoil and just live with it. You’ll have a chance to fix it in four years!’’
I consistently find myself captured by television shows and movies that the general public largely ignores. One of those shows was an HBO series called “The Newsroom.’’ It was written by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin and it concluded (was actually abruptly cancelled in the middle of its third season) in December 2014 after just 25 episodes.
The very first scene of the first episode of the series is an internet sensation. I won’t provide a link here because the scene contains some graphic language, but if that doesn’t offend you, I highly recommend you go to YouTube and view it if you haven’t seen it before. The main character Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, was asked at an event at Northwestern University why America is the greatest country in the world. Daniels goes on a passionate rant of why America is not the greatest country in the world.
I’m not going to share the premise that we’re not the greatest country in the world. But, I will share with you that the one thing that gives me the most comfort is the peaceful transition of power after our elections, more specifically, our Presidential Elections.
Coursey’s concession in Washougal mayoral race
For the record, illustrations of my premise were displayed here in Clark County this week. One came from Dan Coursey, who was defeated by Molly Coston in the city of Washougal mayoral race. Coursey posted the following on Facebook on Thursday:
“As most people probably know I have been trailing in this race since election night,’’ Coursey wrote. “Currently there is a 344 vote difference and we probably won’t be able to cover that with the few ballots left to count.
“I have called Molly Coston and congratulated her as Washougal’s new Mayor,’’ Coursey wrote. “It was a hard-fought campaign on both sides, but I look forward to working with Molly, and for great things to happen here in Washougal under her leadership. Washougal is a great place and there will be opportunities to make things better in the future. I will cheer our new City Mayor on and help as best as I am able.’’
That’s the way elected officials (Coursey is a current member of the Washougal City Council) and candidates should behave, with character and integrity and willingness to serve for the greater good.
Greene gracious in defeat in port race
One of the most fiercely contested races in Clark County in the 2017 General Election was the battle for port commissioner between Don Orange and Kris Greene. Orange won by a comfortable margin.
“I would like to congratulate Mr. Orange and wish him a successful tenure as Commissioner,’’ Greene said in a statement released late Thursday by his campaign.
“A decision to run for political office does not come lightly,’’ Greene said. “It is one weighed out heavily, with thoughtful consideration and discussions with friends and family. My decision to run for Commissioner of our Port was based off of dedication to serve my community. I have a vision that our Port could once again be the most prosperous Port on the West coast, catapulting our economy and effectively ending our longtime status as Portland’s ‘bedroom community.’
“Despite the outcome of this heavily polarized race, I hold my head high,’’ Greene said. “My campaign ran an incredible race. We worked hard, met many wonderful people, and forged lifelong relationships. My involvement in our community will not end here. Today I am more inspired than ever to serve my neighbors and help ensure Vancouver and all of Clark County become our own economic driving force.’’
Greene expresses concern over voter turnout
While this column has largely been about things in our political culture that make me feel good about our community and country, Greene also pointed out one disturbing trend. It seems fewer and fewer voters are actually participating in elections.
“I also am committed to inspiring the voters of Clark County to be more engaged in our election process on local, state, and federal levels,’’ Greene said. “The voter turnout of this race is concerning, with only 30.7 percent of registered voters turning out this election cycle. That means that 69.3 percent of our county’s voices were not heard in this race and countless others.
“On the campaign trail, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful veteran who fought in the Iraq war, serving and fighting so our freedoms could continue — so Americans can have a voice,’’ Greene said. “We owe that Veteran and all other Veterans past and present our sincerest efforts to exercise our rights as Americans and make our voices heard by voting in every election cycle. I encourage you all to become more involved in political grassroots, you can make a difference.’’