Editorial: The Upside of the Election

It’s hard not to think that Gilroy and the state of California are in a different country than the one that swept in a strong Republican, anti-government agenda.

Gilroyans took a hard liberal bent and chose to cut sprawling growth out of the city limits and focus on downtown development. It elected a slate of slow-growthers and tossed out those who tried to sneak by a 4,000-house project that would have increased traffic, raised public service expenses and made its developers $3 billion.

County voters favored Hillary Clinton by 73 percent. They beat back the “no tax” trend by  increasing fees on cigarettes to fund health programs and increased sales tax to improve transportation. They raised money for the homeless. They funded schools. They pushed back on the exorbitant prices charged by drug companies.

Those are huge positives in a national election that seemed to rip the fiber of the country apart.

California’s voting trend this time around suggests that if you want to return to a time when America was great, you can look to the 1950s to the 1970s, when people were proud to pay taxes to improve their country. Tax rates on the rich were as high as 90 percent. The rich were still incredibly rich, but they were willing to do their share. Then came the trickle-down theory, which never quite trickled down. This week local voters took bold steps back to the days when people were far more willing to take responsibility for their circumstances and were willing to pay to make thecounty and state great again.

Americans may never again experience a campaign season like the one that ended Tuesday—or might they all be like this from now on?

The historic nature of the election, the first one where Americans got to vote for a woman as the presidential nominee of a major party, was almost lost during 16 months of daily scandal and insults.

News outlets on both ends of the political spectrum, from Fox to MSNBC and innumerable blogs in between, kept Americans hooked, transforming those who were never politically expressive into keyboard pundits, posting their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

While Barack Obama’s presidential runs in 2008 and 2012 were touted for their use of data and technology, social media came into its own during election 2016, invigorating the electorate like never before.

Sure, some Facebook friends were lost in the shuffle, but now as the dust settles, Americans should look to harness some of that energy and enthusiasm and continue to find ways to participate and engage with our nation’s brazen and brow-beaten democracy.

Here’s one suggestion: start attending your local City Council and municipal commission meetings. Make it a habit. Usually, the only time people go is when they have a problem, a mission, or are on the agenda. A crowded council chambers says something to elected officials: We are here, we are watching, we care.

Better yet, take some time and join local commissions. Become the solution. Get involved. Take control of your government.

Both Trump and, during the primaries especially, Bernie Sanders decried our nation’s “rigged” system, basically saying that ordinary citizens have no hope whatsoever of changing the course of their own lives let alone the country’s.

Don’t get fooled, get involved.

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