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Jay Paterno: Semi-Serious Post-Election Thoughts and Analysis

by on November 08, 2012 6:00 AM

Now that the election is over, the onslaught of negative campaign ads will now yield to ridiculously cheerful Christmas ads; and not a moment too soon. We should expect the holiday ads. After all, it is already Nov. 8.

It is never too early to neglect Thanksgiving, our national holiday of giving thanks for all the good we’ve been blessed with in our families, communities and in our nation. We’re so thankful that we’re going to actually overlook the holiday where we give thanks.

Four days ago I saw a Target ad for Rod Stewart’s Holiday CD available exclusively at Target. Does anyone use CDs anymore? Even my mother is an iPod convert.

After the Mercedes Santa ads, the Rod Stewart CD ads, and all that cheer, suddenly those campaign ads don’t look so bad . . .

But about those campaign ads, most of them portray the opponent as a grave threat to truth, justice and the American way. It creates a divisive mindset and an attitude of we against them.

The easiest part of politics is the election. I don’t say that to downplay how tough an election can be. But once the election is done, the winner then has the task of governing. That is the truly hard part of politics, trying to build consensus with people after you were trying to gouge each other’s eyes out; I mean that figuratively of course.

No matter who you wanted to win, a wise man once reminded me that we should all root for the success of the country. That same wise man said that he’d be happy to have been wrong if the other candidate won and then did great things for the people.

With that in mind, there are some serious and some not-so-serious thoughts that came to mind after seeing this election.

1. Make Election Day a National Federal Holiday. Send kids to school but make it a holiday for adults. The adults will thank you for the free time to get to the polls and a day without their kids. Allow working teachers to vote right in their schools and give them a bonus for working that day. The kids may not like having to go to school when their parents have the day off, but they can’t vote yet anyway.

2. On National Elections, make a nationally uniform poll closing time of 11 p.m. ET. Since it will be a holiday, getting to the polls should be easier, but everyone will stop voting at the same time. This year people in Alaska were still voting and the Presidential race had already been called. In Florida, the media reported early results before the polls had closed in the western panhandle that is in the central time zone.

3. Marijuana is legal in Colorado. There will certainly be some legal proceedings to determine the compliance/compatibility with federal law. But talk about your Rocky Mountain High! John Denver’s song is the new state song replacing the old standard “Where the Columbines Grow”. The new state food will be Chipotle Burritos (started in Colorado) and expect sales to blow up in that state. I’ve never smoked marijuana, but even I can’t resist a Chipotle Burrito’s allure.

4. Young people do care and they do vote. Having worked at the biggest student polling location at the HUB on campus, I saw many that were engaged, informed and eager to cast their ballots. Penn State students turned out.

5. Off topic, but Trader Joe’s opens Friday in State College. I haven’t seen people on Facebook this excited about anything since Fifty Shades of Grey came out.

6. I really miss Tim Russert and his white board of Electoral College math; truly analog election coverage. It was a lot simpler to follow than magic screens and county-by-county breakdowns. Sometimes new technology can be a step backwards.

7. Both candidates in their early morning speeches impressed me with their remarks. It can’t be easy to make the concession call, nor can it be easy to make the concession speech, but Mitt Romney handled it with extreme class. Also, I was glad to see the President thank all voters “whether they were holding an Obama sign or a Romney sign.”

8. Now that we’ve gotten past the election, I hope that people and the media will refocus their efforts on the daunting work to be done rebuilding the areas devastated by Hurricane/Post Tropical/Superstorm Sandy. Whatever meteorologists want to call it, it exacted a terrible toll on the lives of many fellow Americans. I was proud of the President and New Jersey Governor Christie and their cooperation from the moment the threat and impact was realized.

Perhaps those images of The President and the Republican Governor of New Jersey working and greeting victims together will linger in all of our minds, and most importantly in the minds of those who govern us. With election season over, there are no excuses on the near horizon, just a lot of annoying holiday ads.

Remember, there are only 47 shopping days left until Christmas . . .

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State College native and Penn State graduate Jay Paterno is a father, husband and political volunteer. He’s a frequent guest lecturer on campus and at Penn State events and was the longtime quarterbacks coach for the Nittany Lions. His column appears every other Thursday. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JayPaterno
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