To the surprise of no one, there were a lot of surprises Tuesday night.
The confident predictions of partisans — and some pundits — notwithstanding, the most honest prognosticators warned that this would be a close election at the national level and even more of a nail-biter when it came to the U.S. Senate.
And despite the claims of some, including the president, the fact that we didn’t know the ultimate winner in some races by the end of Tuesday is evidence of neither cheating nor fraud.
It is proof that we are a house divided.
After one of the most divisive campaigns in recent memory — if you don’t count the campaign of four years ago — perhaps it is not surprising that many Americans had made up their minds early and simply stopped listening to what the other side said.
As a consequence, we are going to have to wait days if not weeks to find out the results of the presidential contest and possibly other races as well.
Those readers who remember the 2000 election, Bush vs. Gore, know how frustrating that was.
But they may remember something else. During the seemingly endless wrangling over court decisions and hanging chads, life went on.
For most Americans, those who do not live and die by the polls or consume large helpings of politics with their cornflakes every morning, elections are a passing interest. That may speak to our collective apathy or to the fact that for most of us, the government sits fairly lightly on our daily lives.
Once, Americans could go for days or weeks not paying much attention to what ever the president said. (That’s become more difficult with the advent of a president who can’t break his Twitter habit.)
Local government, of course, was a different story.
The vagaries of foreign policy crafted in Washington? Yawn. City hall’s failure to plow your street in a timely manner? Oh, we’re not having that!
So we will wait, again. And as divided as we are, at least we can perhaps agree on this: It’s better to have an election where you don’t know the result than, as happens in some countries, the outcome is preordained.
Be patient, be hopeful, and be of good courage.
Even though we are divided, we will get through this together.