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Carroll County Times Opinion

Dean Minnich: The midterm elections show the middle just might have held | COMMENTARY

Votes are still being counted somewhere, in Georgia, if not in Arizona as well. We are tidying up after a contentious – and frightening – election season. We avoided a calamity, but there is still work to do.

Trump is still seeking to throw it all into chaos, because that is his singular mode. The blush is off that rose, or should be. Judging by the midterm election results, those who found credence amid the din of his time on stage seem to have had an epiphany. Many of those who supported his views have obviously had enough. At this juncture, it would seem the only thing he can do is further embarrass himself and those around him.

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We have all seen the Big Lie – that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats – applied with malice, and results prove that we are not buying it. Pockets of denial remain but will have no staying power against essential truth and America’s faith that the system that has worked well for democracy is still viable.

My take is that things are headed back in balance. I’ve seen it time and again, from state office holders to those finding themselves elected to be on the receiving end of scrutiny for their decisions. Restoring civility to the process is a path chosen by election winners when they see success coming from a broad middle willing to compromise.

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Extremists on both ends of the spectrum can participate but not dictate. That’s healthy. Voices are heard, as they should be. Push and pull are essential to a true free society. In county and state government, we will continue to see and hear rhetoric that is designed more as theater than leadership. There always will be those in office whose public image is occasionally polished at the expense of self-respect or the public good. I’ve watched them come and go over the years.

The worst thing about our system is that too many candidates for office want to use it as a steppingstone. Ambition for power or status is more of a driver than a desire to serve the public, despite their warm and fuzzy campaign ads.

The best thing about our system is that everyone who shows up to save the world will eventually leave the stage to new players.

Elections can bring out the worst in candidates whose agenda is self-serving. Actually getting the job can bring an opportunity for redemption. People can grow into the job.

We’ve had school board members in the past who were firebrands during campaigns resort to thoughtful consideration of alternative ideas. We’ve had law and order states’ attorneys whose hubris eventually brought them back to the humility the office must have. We’ve had judges who as attorneys played the game to be in position for a political appointment to the bench when a judgeship became available, and for the most part, they accept the gravity of their actual responsibilities with honor.

Of course, there will always be sore losers. The response to that is the same as that which brought about the election results: Truth. Facts will stand up to false allegations and misinformation.

Vengeance for perceived disloyalty or betrayal is the worst motivation for running for office again. There will always be those whose support will go to the manipulative personality with a gift for telling people what they want to hear, supporting their fears and doubts instead of their better nature.

I’m counting on reasonable Republicans and rational citizens across the spectrum to make certain any candidate with a history of hatred and narcissistic selfishness doesn’t get traction.

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Dean Minnich has been a writer, reporter, editor and publisher who served two terms as a Carroll County commissioner.


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