Editor’s Notebook: The day after
White Park in Concord early on Wednesday afternoon. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)
The morning of Nov. 9 felt like any other day. It was glorious.
I’m not sure what I expected the day after Election Day to feel like, but on my way into the office there was joy in watching the mundane. The line of cars dropping off their treasures at my daughter’s high school. Workers clearing brush in Concord’s White Park. Law students walking together on Washington Street, smiling and chatting on their way to class.
I realize now, with the memories of Jan. 6, 2021, still fresh and painful, that the thing I root for most in American politics is civility. I crave dialogue and conversation, respectful disagreement over competing visions for the nation’s future. I want to believe that no more Thanksgiving tables will be fragmented by the hatred stoked by people we choose to represent us in government.
I know it’s just one morning – but I’ll take it.
As I mentioned last week, my older daughter and I made plans to go to the polls together so she could cast her first ballot. So during lunch on Tuesday, I went home, the two of us gathered up the documents she would need to register, and then we headed toward town. On the lawn in front of the town hall, a cluster of three people holding signs for Democratic candidates smiled at us, as did a lone woman holding signs for Republican candidates. I don’t think any of them saw us as votes to be won or lost, citizens to be spun. I think they saw their neighbors, a dad and his daughter.
We were far from alone at the polls. Hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters voted on Tuesday, quite possibly a record number for a New Hampshire midterm election. And just like everyone else, my daughter and I checked in, picked up a little pencil, accepted the ballot handed to us, and behind the curtain we filled in the ovals that serve as our voice. The room felt absent of tension – it was peaceful and light.
It was just one moment – but I’ll take it.
I understand that not everybody was happy on Wednesday morning. Campaigns are long, exhausting affairs for the candidates, and losing stings. These are long, exhausting affairs for voters, too, who must endure endless television attack ads and daily piles of campaign mailers that aim to jolt and enrage. Losing stings for voters, too – and in some cases maybe even more than for the politicians.
But now it’s over.
As the dust settles, and amid relative and refreshing calm, we try to make sense of the numbers and the patchwork map of red and blue. What will the State House look like? How many recounts will there be? What will be the big issues of the next Legislative session? What bills have a chance of passage this time around? Where will the new fault lines form?
The mind whirls, and then a very New Hampshire feeling rises to the top: The end of the midterm elections means the presidential primary season has begun in earnest. Around here, the circus never really leaves town.
But it’s quiet on Wednesday morning. I’ll take it.
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