Opinion: It's over? It's about time, say people who have tired of Election '08Anyone hanging out at the polling places in Mitchell Tuesday may have heard that large, collective sigh of relief exhaled from voters weary of the 2008 election season.
By: Korrie Wenzel, editor, The Daily Republic
Anyone hanging out at the polling places in Mitchell Tuesday may have heard that large, collective sigh of relief exhaled from voters weary of the 2008 election season.
Barack Obama began campaigning for the presidency about 21 months ago. John McCain began around November 2006. In the past few days, their incessant solicitation of voters’ attention peaked.
Add to that the barrage of state and local advertising and it’s been a busy end to Election 2008.
It’s either been exciting or terribly excruciating, depending upon the point of view.
“I’m happy to have it over,” Sonja Epp told me after she voted at the Davison County Fairgrounds Tuesday morning. “It just seems it became more of a circus this time around. There was a lot of loss of dignity.”
Many in America feel just like Epp. A report a couple of weeks ago in The Daily Republic noted that millions of dollars were spent in the past month nationwide on negative ads in the presidential campaign. Accompanying results from a survey showed that more than half of voters polled believe the campaign commercials were unfair or somewhat unfair.
All of that negativity, found each and every day in advertisements, interviews and through the spewing of pundits, tends to wear on folks. I overheard such a conversation earlier this week while in line to pay for groceries.
People I spoke to Tuesday had similar sentiments.
“I think they should not be allowed to campaign until six months before the election,” Sandy Wenzel said as she left the polls at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary.
Wenzel, a shirt-tail cousin I had never met until I approached her Tuesday afternoon, said this year’s campaign season seemed “way too long.”
“It was terrible,” she said. “I am really ready to have it over.”
South Dakotans have been hit hard. We got an early and intense start on the campaign season when we were visited by the candidates back in May and June. Many wished South Dakota could for once play a part in the election process, and our wish came true, when the race for the Democratic nomination came down to the final few primaries, of which South Dakota was one.
The Democratic candidates for president especially saturated the state back in the late spring, with Obama giving a speech in front of the Corn Palace, Hillary Clinton stopping in the state a few times and Bill Clinton showing up nearly everywhere around the Mitchell area on behalf of his wife.
Whereas Bill’s visit to Mitchell was an event, he was in the state so much earlier this year stumping for Hillary that it actually became rather commonplace. That’s a good indication that South Dakotans were starting to tire of all this politicking, even back in June.
The Republican McCain made headlines when he showed up at Sturgis during the motorcycle rally in August.
State residents also were inundated by impassioned ads one way or another for Initiated Measure 11, which sought to ban most abortions in the state, and Initiated Measure 10, which sought to end taxpayer-funded lobbying and other related practices. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, both appeared headed toward defeat.
In retrospect, it really has been a long, drawn-out campaign season. I think I can speak for everyone in the media and say we’re ready for a break from politics for a while.
Not everyone is fed up, however.
One is Elaine Schaefers, who was doing yard work at her Mitchell home Tuesday when I stopped to ask her about the election season.
“You can’t be fed up. We have to go through it — it’s part of living,” she said. “When it came on the TV and I didn’t like it, I flipped it to another channel.”
She is frustrated, however, by the campaign promises that were thrown about over the past few months. One starts to lose track after awhile, she said.
“Let’s hope they can pull off one or two,” she said.
Schaefers said that people who have seen an election or two realize this one is different. A woman, Hillary Clinton, nearly won the Democratic nomination. A black man, Obama, was a major-party candidate for the first time ever and now will be our next president. A woman, Sarah Palin, was a major-party candidate for just the second time ever. Both Obama and Palin are relatively young, in their 40s.
The times, they are a-changing.
“It’s fascinating,” Schaefers said. “It really is.”More from around the web