The voting might be over, but this week’s election will resonate through the next several years.

You could see it in the news that Gov.-elect Laura Kelly was sitting down with Gov. Jeff Colyer to put transition plans in place. You could see it in President Trump’s defiant press conference and ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Election have consequences, and we’re living through them now.

But the consequences aren’t just on the public at large. They’re also felt by the candidates and their families and friends, who have spend the past several months putting themselves through the wringer of public judgment.

The voyage of these candidates began before the summer primaries. If they made it through that first round of voting, they then forged through the fall campaign — knocking on doors, shaking hands and paying for advertisements big and small.

And what did they get for their trouble?

They were likely viciously attacked. If not by their opponents, then by their opponents’ supporters on social media or in public. Their spouses and children are required by political tradition to come along for the ride.

Whatever their party, whatever their ideology, candidates and their families sacrifice. And we believe, regardless of our agreement with them on political points, that candidates deserve our thanks for stepping up and asking for our votes.

They’re people, just like the rest of us. And it takes an engaged citizenry to make a representative democracy to work.

Unfortunately, the division between parties right now makes acknowledgment of that common humanity difficult at times. Especially in Kansas, where the sharp distinctions between conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans and Democrats can sometimes seem like unbreachable gulfs.

But the vast majority of candidates want to do good things. They want to represent their friends and neighbors, families and communities. They want to do what they think is right. If we can remember that, even in the midst of pitched partisan warfare, we have an opportunity to build a new set of collaborative political norms.

If we can build those norms, and reshape public service as an honorable opportunity for all Kansans across the political spectrum, then perhaps we could attract even more brave souls to throw their hats in the ring.

Thanks to the candidates, their families, and all who contributed. Our government is of the people, by the people and for the people. That has profound and lasting meaning.

We’re all in this together.

 

GateHouse Kansas