You may have heard it said today's election is the most important in this century, or in the last 50 years, or in "our lifetime." We won't insult your intelligence by insisting this election is any of those.
Because we believe every election, bar none, is important. It is important when we elect presidents, when we elect members of Congress (especially when control of either House is up for grabs), when we elect governors and state legislators, mayors and councilmembers or commissioners, judges, county office holders and school board members.
The Chattanooga Free Press opinion page recommends:
Governor: Bill Lee
U.S. Senate: Marsha Blackburn
U.S. House, 3rd District: Chuck Fleischmann
State Senate, 11th District: Bo Watson
State House, 26th District: Robin Smith
State House, 27th District: Patsy Hazlewood
State House, 28th District: Lemon Williams
State House, 29th District: Mike Carter
State House, 30th District: No endorsement
We should consider it critical enough to research the candidate — school board member or president of the United States — and make an informed decision with our vote.
After all, a 5-4 vote by the Hamilton County Board of Education could have a far more reaching effect than most decisions made by the president of the United States. That's not to say the decisions the president makes are unimportant, but a school board vote could have a more immediate and long-lasting effect.
Today's voters have more means of gleaning information about candidates than has been possible in any previous U.S. election. But it also might be fair to say that every succeeding national election has fewer well-informed voters than the one before.
Because too many people today rely on negative advertising, on what a comedian says about a particular candidate or on someone's tweet (excluding the president in this context) in order to make their choice. Further, network and cable television news shows take sides. The same could be true with once reliable, once unbiased "big city" newspapers.
It makes us long for election reform: a mandated shorter campaign season, smaller limits on giving, an excision of dark money. The problem is, as it is with so many vexing problems, no side wants to give. Each side wants the other side to compromise — in other words, do it our way.
As long as that's the route we take, we'll have no reform. When a presidency or a Senate seat or control of the House is on the line, we'll be ready to mark our ballots for the last candidate whose commercial we liked (or against the candidate airing the last negative one we saw), against the candidate targeted with half-truths and innuendo on Facebook, or against the one Jimmy or Seth or David joked about late last night.
We've stated our preference for keeping Republicans in control of Congress. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence even came to town to make the case for electing Marsha Blackburn over Phil Bredesen Sunday.
Pence called it the difference between "more government and more freedom," between "resistance and results."
Trump, in front of a filled and rocking McKenzie Arena, termed it a choice of "mobs" versus "jobs," "the past" versus "the future," "a president standing up for Americans" versus "the Democratic politics of anger and division."
He laid out the accomplishments of his administration and then, in the superlative rhetorical style he prefers, slathered it on: "the greatest economy we've ever had in the history of our country," "no administration [has] had a more successful two years than we have," ours is "the greatest political movement in the history of our country."
They are words that energize Trump's crowds and enrage his opponents. He does it on purpose in the hopes the words will transfer into votes.
Sometime tonight we'll know if they did. And then tomorrow life will go on, continued Republican Senate or future Democratic Senate, continued Republican House or future Democratic House.
For more information visit our voter guide at timesfreepress.com/vg2.
Fifteen short years ago, Democrats thought George W. Bush would bring down the country. Eight years ago, Republicans believed Barack Obama spelled the end. Now Democrats think Trump's en route to do that.
We wouldn't say there aren't consequences with every national election, and we wouldn't minimize the impact of decisions made by each president, but we are fortunate the United States is a strong country and has been able to stand strong and weak presidents and strong and weak Congresses. It has done so because its citizens got involved, stayed involved and made sure the country didn't go too far awry.
We do that, in part, by researching the candidates we can choose from and by voting. In every election. Every office. Every year. So, if you didn't vote early, do so today knowing this is the most important election you'll vote in ... since the last election ... and until the next election.