After one of the most historical elections in our lifetime, an election in which most racial, gender, and socio-economic barriers were destroyed, and in which all voter turnout records were shattered, in which people of all races and walks of life spilled into the streets across the nation and throughout the world, and that has undoubtedly changed forever the way political campaigns and the tone of political discourse in this nation is conducted, I was surprised to see the editorial board of the local Record-Courier choose to toss it all aside in favor of some over simplified, trivial, "red vs. blue" theology predicting a cynical, stale, "politics as usual" characterization for future elections in Douglas County ... and I beg to differ.
The Record-Courier, by the very nature of its business, should have above anyone, recognized the significance of this election and its implications for the future of local politics. In short, you have missed the point. This election wasn't about candidates with an "R" or a "D" after their name. This election was about voting for the individual. I'm quite sure that no one voted for Barack Obama simply because he was a Democrat. They voted for the man, and the ideas behind his candidacy. Conversely, no one voted locally for a candidate because of the "R" after their name, they voted for their candidate because they liked their ideas or knew their views better, and felt comfortable with them. It won't be long before fresh new candidates will emerge and appeal to our local electorate, and they won't fit tidily into the "R" or "D" box. I've no doubt that with the resounding result of this national election to pave the way, the typical, predictable partisan politics in Douglas County are also soon to be a thing of the past. You do our county, and the citizens in it, a grave disservice by categorizing their votes predictably in unthinking lock step fashion based solely on their political affiliation.
My case in point, according to David Plouffe, the chief strategist for the Obama national campaign, Douglas County attracted more crossover votes from Republican and independents (and had the largest "gap closure" from previous elections) than any other rural county in our state. More significantly, and astoundingly, the rural counties of Nevada, outperformed all other rural counties in the nation, except for Indiana, in attracting crossover voters. Proving only that folks here are not bound by the political initial following their name on the voter registration rolls. With a little investigation, I would have thought that the beginnings of this local trend would have been recognized and jumped on by any astute local political reporter, rather than haphazardly discarded with the sweeping "snowball in hell" mentality exhibited by the editorial board or our local paper the morning after the most historical election in our nations history.
And finally, after working for almost two years locally in the Obama campaign, I can personally attest to the number of Republicans and Independents that worked right along side of me here in Douglas County. These are folks that have never voted "democratic" in their lives and still are proud to call themselves Republican, but this time around, simply liked the other guy better. The face of our county is changing, and our likely future political races will be as well. People here are no longer bound by the "good ol' boy" system, and when a Democrat does win a local election (which I'm sure will happen) it won't be all that newsworthy. We are all looking closely at the individuals that we want to govern us, and frankly could care less about what party they come from.
To all of my Republican and non-partisan friends who voted for John McCain, who were gracious and kind enough to call or text me after election night knowing of my involvement in the Obama campaign, who congratulated me and wished our newly elected President well, I say a very heartfelt thank you. In spite of our political differences, it proved to me once and again, that we do have more that unite than divide us. This campaign has also taught me that no matter what the pundits or even our local paper might have us believe, that we, either as a collection of individuals or as a united nation, will not be stereotyped, parceled, parsed, pigeonholed of categorically dismissed because of the initial following our name. And that fact, contrary to the editorial opinion of The Record-Courier, is not only clearly evident in Douglas County, but likely to change the political landscape here in the future as well.
n Debra Chappell is a Jacks Valley resident and was a precinct captain for the Obama campaign.