November 28, 2022

Thanks...for the End of the Midterms and More

Spectator
By Stephen Tuttle | Nov. 19, 2022

As always, there are reasons to be thankful, not the least of which is that the midterm elections are finally almost over. As this is being written, there are still a few House seats and one Senate race not decided.

We should thank everyone who had the courage to put their name on a ballot for any office. Running is significantly harder and more complicated than most people assume—an exercise in courage, time, and financial management coupled with a thick skin and an exceptionally understanding family. Support or oppose, we should be thankful for their efforts.

We should thank the county clerks and other election officials and their volunteers, locally and around the country, who once again did a remarkable and important job under exceedingly difficult circumstances. Despite harassment, insults, and threats of violence, they oversaw another honest and accurate election. The vote counting in some races in some states seemed to take forever, but that’s due to the process and commitment to accuracy, not some nefarious plot as losers now often claim.

We should be especially thankful there was no violence at the polling places despite threats from some extreme groups that believe violence is the answer to every question.

Let’s also thank candidates who ran positive ads, both traditionally and online, and sent out positive mail that did not attack or insult their opponents but touted their own resumes and future plans. Conversely, let’s not thank the campaign apparatus of both parties, statewide and nationally, that seem incapable of participating without throwing heaps of mud everywhere.

Let’s thank Generation Z (defined by Pew Research as anyone born after 1996) for turning out more voters than expected. According to researchers at Tufts University, 27 percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 voted on November 8, a record for a midterm election for a group sometimes referred to derisively as Generation Slacker. Our system works best when participation is greatest, so it is encouraging that more and more young people are becoming politically energized.

Let’s also thank the likes of Jack O’Malley who, despite losing a close, contentious, some might even say bruising campaign for the 103rd District State House seat, offered a concession statement that was civil, honorable, and decent. In an era in which some candidates offer little more than accusations and nonsensical rumor mongering, O’Malley’s statement should be used as a template for others. He wasn’t the only candidate to fully maintain his dignity in difficult circumstances, but his statement was certainly a model for others.

(As an aside here, candidate concessions are a nice tradition and courtesy but have nothing whatsoever to do with vote counting or results. All votes will be counted regardless of a concession, and those who refuse to concede will still lose if they have the fewest votes.)

Away from politics, we should thank everyone involved in the completion of the TART trail loop around Boardman Lake finished this year. Those who conceived, planned, designed, and constructed it did a lovely job. It’s now an easy bike ride around the lake but a better walk, allowing time to spot some local waterfowl or maybe basking-in-the-sun turtles lined up on a log.

Let’s also thank the young men and women who have enthusiastically returned to their school’s extracurricular activities. Not to mention, though we should, the teachers who guide, coach, and support those efforts.

Let’s have a special thanks to the incredible record of Traverse City St. Francis athletics that seems to produce state champions every year. This school year, they’ve already won the state championship in girls cross country in their division (the boys finished second) and they’re in the football semi-finals as this is being written.

As always, let’s especially thank our first responders in the fire, emergency medical, and law enforcement communities who continue to be there for us. The last couple years must have been especially challenging and dangerous, but those men and women continue to serve, protect, and sometimes save us from ourselves, others, and circumstances beyond our control.

We should also be thanking, pretty much every day, school teachers, school bus drivers, school administrators, and school support staff. They do the increasingly difficult work of transporting, feeding, teaching, and, sometimes, protecting our kids.

Let’s also thank those who build and repair our streets, drive the vehicles that bring us all our stuff, and the folks who sell it to us, plumbers, electricians, iron workers and steel workers, framers, roofers, masons, bankers, the folks who help us sell or buy homes, landscapers, farmers, ranchers, growers of all manner of things we eat, cooks, servers, bartenders, nurses, doctors, dentists… We have reason to be thankful for nearly everyone we encounter every day.

And, thank you. Agree with me or not, thank you very much for reading this column.

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