Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
The Mornging After . . .
November 6, 1998
The bi-annual American cataclysm is over for this year. It is called an
election. On the morning after, roughly half of Americans are mad and
convinced that civilization as we know it is doomed. The other half is
celebrating a great victory which will bring us glory and prosperity.
As for me, this year there is good news and there is bad news.
Statewide, from where I sit, the news was generally bad. But
nationally the news is surprisingly good. The Democrats picked up five
seats in the House, the first time since 1934 that the party controlling
the White House gained seats midway in the President's second term. And
in this in spite of the Republicans efforts to capitalize on the
Lewinsky scandal. Lewinsky who? Even columnist Fred Brown, with whom
I almost never agree, suggested that it might be, "...a warning to the
Republicans to take a cold shower and try to stop thinking about sex."
Of the pro-choice Democratic women endorsed by Emily's list, 31 won, the
overwhelming majority. Two of the three women swept to the Senate in
the Year of the Woman in 1992 were re-elected in close races, Barbara
Boxer of California and Patty Murray of Washington. It's still a
man's world, but the women are in there fighting.
In spite of the party difference, I can't help smiling as I think of
what George and Barbara Bush must be thinking today.
I have lived through a lot of post-election Wednesday mornings. When I
was a kid, my house on the morning after an election was either a happy,
wonderful place to be, or a place for a kid to get out of as soon as
possible. My mother was a political junkie too, which says something
about either heredity or environment. She was quite certain that "In
the Beginning there was the Republican Party." I outgrew my upbringing
-- but I never had the nerve to tell her. After all, she was a Colorado
delegate to the Republican Convention in Philadelphia in 1940 that
nominated Wendell Willkie.
Presidential election years are the ones we remember most clearly. The
Wednesday morning that stands out in mind is the one following the
election of 1984. The morning after Geraldine Ferraro and the guy she
ran with were defeated, I went out for breakfast at 6:00 am. When the
poor waitress tried to be pleasant I snarled at her that I was there to
sulk, skip the kindness. She did. I overtipped.
Politics is not an American invention. "Man is by nature a political
animal," wrote Aristotle. But Prince Otto Von Bismarck put it in
perspective with a masterful understatement. "Politics is not an exact
Fortunately there is always a lighter side to an American election. I
never managed to say it as well as Molly Ivins, but then she is from
Texas and politics are different there. Her belief is, "I believe
politics is the finest form of entertainment in the state of Texas:
better than the zoo, better than the circus, rougher than football, and
even more aesthetically satisfying than baseball. Becoming a fan of
this arcane art form will yield a body endless joy -- besides, they make
you pay for it whether you pay any attention or not."
This year's campaigns have seemed exceptionally vicious, but they always
seem like that. Actually, they were really not much worse than usual.
Character assassination has been with us from the beginning. It's
just that without television and radio not so many people knew about
it. But in spite of it all, we have always muddled through and I
expect we will this time.
This year, thanks to the rapid communication of TV and the Web, I got
my usual amount of sleep. I was even nice to the people who brewed my
cappuccino. I mourn for Gail and Dottie and Pete, but am comforted by
the national results and hope for the best.
Meanwhile, the country goes on as it has for over 200 years. Most
public officials will do their best and if we don't like their ideas, we
can always vote them out -- next time. Elections are like street
cars. There's always another one coming.