Winston Churchill is credited with calling democratic government the worst form, except for all the others. After a long, often bitter campaign season, Americans must have a clearer understanding of what the war-era prime minister and historian meant.
When we are amid a raucous campaign, with nasty attack ads flashing before our eyes and endless pronouncements designed to offend the least number of voters never allowing the candidates to be pinned down on anything, we grumble and swear and hate the sight of every smiling phony one of them.
And yet, on Election Day the tension of a close race is in the crisp autumn air and suddenly people are ebullient at the polls, smiling even at those who are known to share the dreaded opposite opinion.
This is a process, after all, that is still almost as unique in the world as it was during the first United States national election in 1792. There are other democracies out there, but few that allow as free expression of views and ability of any party or group to exert political influence, even over the rich and powerful.
Now, in the aftermath, the winners and losers in each race across the country should put their exultation or disappointment behind them and act like they are members of a great nation and a great democracy. We are.