Whatever happens on November 6, one thing is (almost) certain.
The Daytona 500, also known as the Great American Race, will be held next February.
Now before you run, howling, to your keyboards to tell me how dare I trivialize the most important election in our times, let me continue a few paragraphs with what I have to say.
Every election cycle, about this time, someone tells me that the end of the Republic is nigh if so and so wins, and I have to sit them down and tell them that the American political system has something in common with the Daytona International Speedway—self-cleaning banks.
For those of you who are not even casual NASCAR fans, Daytona—and, by the way, big Bill France DID build that—is banked so sharply that when there is a wreck, the cars tend to slide down into the infield; hence the term “self-cleaning banks.”
America declared its independence on July 4, 1776. We were the product of a revolution fomented by 56 angry white guys, one of whom signed his name so big that the British King could see it without his glasses. We have never been a perfect nation, and we struggled for a fairly long time after the revolution to find a formula that worked for the long haul.
Our founding fathers found that formula in a form of gridlock.
Much of the genius in the Constitution is that our founding fathers came up with a three-pronged solution that does not allow anybody to drive the nation too far, too quickly.
That formula has allowed an otherwise imperfect nation, filled with the likes of, well, us, and our ancestors, to survive as the longest-lived experiment in self-government in history for 236 years.
In short, our political system has developed self-cleaning banks.
Push us too far in one direction, get us into a wreck, and the system itself has the capacity to right itself.
It’s not a perfect system. An incompetent socialist can get himself elected President. People who probably shouldn’t be able to can have an inordinate sway over public policy. But, at the end of the day, the average voter can march to the polls and set things back on the right path. And if you don’t think each and every vote counts, it was probably a bunch of NASCAR fans in Volusia County, Florida, home of the Daytona Speedway, who cast the deciding votes for George W. Bush in 2000.
Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
That was true in the mid 1860s when he said it, and it is even truer today in a world held together by instant communication.
So, if you’re still with me, what I am trying to say is that if Barack Obama were to win re-election, the Republic will survive. The Daytona 500 will run next February, after the Super Bowl is decided.
Congress will convene; the Supreme Court will hear and decide cases, many against the wishes of the Obama Administration.
Like Daytona, our system won’t stop the big wreck from happening; but it will protect us against the larger effects.
Presidents—whoever they are—are temporary.
So are Congressmen and Senators.
Now this should not by any means be construed as any kind of a suggestion that Mitt Romney is not going to win or that Barack Obama should win.
I’m only trying to put this election in perspective.
It is one that we have every four years. Every four years, some self-important oaf in the media will tell you that this is the most important election in our times. The truth is it is the most important election being held that day.
This nation has survived a lot worse than Barack Obama, including a whole bunch of people who can tell us about black helicopters and not much about American history.
If you want to get rid of Obama as I do, vote. It is the most affirmative action you can take. As long as you vote—win or lose—the Republic will survive.
If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain.
Fred Weinberg is the publisher of the Penny Press, an online publication based in Reno, Nevada (pennypressnv.com) and the Elko Independent, Nevada’s oldest newspaper (established June 15, 1868). He also is the CEO of several companies that own or operate radio stations in Ely, Nevada, Elko, Nevada and Reno, Nevada. He has spent 47 years in journalism at every level from small town weekly newspapers to television networks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.