We could have waited 11 days, or more

Our democracy is more than stable enough to keep the place running.

Jennifer Selvig

In the 2000 election, the United States went into collective panic mode when we did not know the results of the presidential race by the end of election night. A similar scenario seemed likely Tuesday night into this morning. Nonetheless, the country has chosen a president. But had there been significant doubts, it would have mattered little in reality.

Not immediately knowing whom the next term’s president will be would not have significantly affected this nation’s day-to-day operations, let alone the average citizen. The democracy instilled in the United States is more than stable enough to keep the place running. If memories of the last presidential race’s uncertainty are still fresh, the only long-term effect has been positive: The last election clearly inspired millions more voters to go to the polls this year – and that bodes well for democracy, too.

The people most affected by an “up-in-the-air” election would have been the media and those heavily involved in stock trading. The media will always go about its coverage in its self-important, breaking-news, we-can’t-get-beat sort of way, but what else is new? And the stock market never seems to like uncertainty, but the long-term effects of this will be minimal as it also seems to bounce back when the country knows where it’s going.

Other uncertainties within our government arguably have far more long-term ramifications than whether we have to wait a couple of weeks on the results of the presidential race.

Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s failing health is, in reality, more problematic, as it questions whether the Supreme Court will be without a ninth member in the near future. The possibility of 4-4 rulings during the fall term or the appointment of a temporary justice could lead to an effectively lame duck court.

This country should never be without a president on inauguration day, but in this age of poll challengers, election-related lawsuits and too-close-to-call results, we must accept that voting is not as simple as it once seemed – and go on with our lives confident we will learn whom our leaders will be, and thankful we have the opportunity to exercise our right to help make those decisions.

Jennifer Selvig is an editorial board member. She welcomes comments at [email protected]