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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: The Election Came and Went and I Didn’t Die

Sid Shroyer
Sid Shroyer takes in a St. Louis Cardinals game

Well, the election came and went and I didn’t die, even though some of those people I wanted to lose did not lose. For awhile I thought that my life was at risk in the election. We’ll see. It’s been a week and a half.

Judy and I went to a baseball game in St. Louis in September and I noticed that watching a game in person is a lot less nerve wracking than it is when I watch on TV. Elections in person are less scary, too.

I was prowling around on the internet looking for some information that I thought would help me tell a story when I happened to notice that the thing I was all worked up about that happened in 1958 didn’t have any impact on the election at all.

Every election, we hear, is the most consequential momentous election of all time. Every opponent is a threat to the American way of life, whatever that is, or to democracy itself, whatever that is.

One thing that I noticed about the 1958 election was that the Democrats gained 15 seats that year in the Senate. That’s remarkable. I wonder if the Republicans thought the world was going to end. I suppose some of them thought so, nuclear annihilation on the doorstep and big-spending liberals going to drown us all in a sea of red ink.

I noticed that the 1958 political ads and candidate press releases weren’t all that different from today’s. Even if the word “rockets” came up more, politics wasn’t “rocket science” in 1958, either. Find a word that’s synonymous with “evil” and be against it. Sometimes it’s a perfectly fine word that is made out to be evil. Like “woke,” the state of being awake, the opposite of being asleep, being asleep making it hard to know what’s going on in the world. Not being asleep is evil?

Find a word that’s synonymous with “good” and be for it. “Democracy.”

Question the integrity of your opponent.

Here’s a quiz: These comments, “I’m against socialism.” “Protect families.” “My opponent is a liar. ” Is that 1958 or 2022? Could it possibly be both?

The campaign for the next election starts the day after the last election. It’s like the playoffs. Win one round and the coach says, “We got one night to celebrate and then we’re back at it tomorrow. Look at some film, examine our weaknesses, and then hit the ground running. Nobody’s gonna outwork us.”

“Nobody’s going to out work us to win the next contest.” Not “nobody’s going to outwork us to be the best possible public servant.” I must say I noticed that in 1958 life-long experience as a public servant did seem to carry more weight than it does today. I learned about a man who spent 18 years as the school superintendent of the community where he grew up, served on the state school board, and then, only then, was elected to serve his community in the state legislature. Do we have people like that now? Proven public servants? “Serving” was the operative idea. Now, it’s getting elected.

Sometimes it feels like the winners are the losers and the losers are the winners. The losers get to blame the winners for all of the bad stuff that happens between now and the next election. The winners have to, well, I think, are still supposed to, actually govern. Big changes in the clerk’s office? Give her a chance. We’ll see.

Don’t get me wrong, I like voting, a purposeful walk to the polls, the smiling workers and the sense of community inside where you can just tell everybody understands the significance of what we are doing. Judy, got up at 4:00 A.M. to get ready for her poll worker day at Adams High School which after the polls are closed tear-down lasts until around 7:00. I brought her some water when I voted there around 11:00 and our daughter, Lily, just happened to be voting at that time, too. It was a warm moment on a beautiful fall day.

Voting reminds me of Mom and Dad. They made it seem to their kids like they were a part of what was going on. The government was “us” then. Voting as a family event. Voting as an affirmation. Past, present, future. That feels about right, to me.

I know there were people voting with me in the Adams cafeteria November 8 who were not voting the way I did. It’s not that I could tell by looking. It’s a law of averages thing. They didn’t look scary to me. They look like the people I see when I get gas or when we eat at the Bucket. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look scary to them, either, even though I had on a Cardinal shirt. I’m just a guy with a Cardinal shirt on, I’m not a member of a an evil tribe out to destroy your pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Watching an election in person is a lot less scary than it is when I’m watching it on TV. Those folks on TV know how the game goes, too. Making it scary is how they get me to watch.

I better start getting ready. Mark my words. That next election is going to be the most momentous election ever.

Music: "Do It Again" by Steely Dan

Sid Shroyer is a contributor to Michiana Chronicles and was a co-creator of The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour, heard monthly on WVPE. He became a part-time announcer at WVPE in 2001 and has just recently retired from hosting of All Things Considered.