GOOD: Voters will spend a few moments between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. today nourishing democracy. Free elections sustain the experimental notion that a government of the people, for the people, by the people can thrive despite frequent jolts and emergencies.
More than 240 years after New England colonists upset over taxation without representation rebelled against king and Parliament, the experiment remains viable only through frequent, vigorous exercise.
It’s unlikely that even prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton or on the Bataan Death March — those who had learned the value of freedom — spent much time contemplating the 17th century philosophies of John Locke, whose writings inspired the Constitution. Locke believed the power of a prince should be secondary to the rule of law and that the purpose of government was to help people prosper. Democracy isn’t venerated everywhere, and even Locke knew the risks. “What worries you, masters you,” Locke warned.
Plato thought democracy a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. Montesquieu, meanwhile, warned that the tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. Today, whether your candidates win or lose, you will sustain an ideal that still defines America. It’s one of the main reasons America remains a beacon to the world. Even with all of the pain, anger and frustration involved, it is an experiment worth supporting.
BAD: An estimated $5.2 billion will be spent in the current election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Meanwhile, total fundraising reported by candidates for governor in South Dakota’s current election cycle has surpassed $12 million, according to a Rapid City Journal analysis. The biggest recent contributions to the Sutton and Noem campaigns in the race for governor — more than $1 million — have come from out-of-state, national-level political action committees. Rest assured that their investments have little to do with helping the people of South Dakota prosper.
UGLY: Around the nation, efforts are afoot to discourage people from voting, violating the very concept of a people’s government. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 99 bills to make it harder to vote were introduced last year in 31 states. In North Dakota, voters need IDs showing their address, leaving out many on Native American reservations who use P.O. boxes. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor, is using an "exact-match law" to put 53,000 voter-registration applications on hold, and nearly 70 percent of the suspended applications are those of African-Americans. In Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, lawmakers have passed strict voter-I.D. or roll-purge laws to discourage turnout among groups that tend to vote Democratic. The will of the people — of all the people — is what we must celebrate today unless we are willing to return to a government of the few, for the few, by the few.