Promises still to keep

Until this day after the election, Washingtonians didn’t need to travel to Oslo to view Edward Munch’s “The Scream.” We had met “The Scream,” and he was us.

Enough. To bastardize Allen Ginsberg, we have seen the best minds of our generation destroyed by political ads, incessant, hysterical, truth-defiling, dragging themselves through the Everett streets at dawn looking for an angry fix. (Stopping cold turkey from a campaign binge means bracing for soft voices and television marketers not running for Congress.)

Elections are a counterweight to the kindergarten lesson that we’re all winners. No, we just took a vote, and Secretary of State Sam Reed will certify it. One winner, one loser. We played witness and judge, cajoled by a high-volume screech, much of it negative and soul-deadening. And now we wait for the final, final results in the nail-biters. And then we wait some more.

Oregon pioneered a more sensible approach to mail-in balloting, a system that curtails the interminable-election night blues: All ballots must be in (not just postmarked) by 8 p.m. on election night. The Secretary of State is a proponent, and it’s been mostly glitch and delay-free in Oregon. The only demand is educating Washington voters to get it together a little earlier. In Crosscut, the Washington Policy Center’s Jason Mercier notes that 36 states require absentee ballots be returned (not just postmarked) by Election Day. The system curiously bolsters turnout although, as Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel predicted earlier this week, voter turnout likely registered in the 85 percent range.

Now the onus is on the media to bird-dog lawmakers and the promises that have been made. Just as private-sector honchos establish benchmarks, politicians need to be made accountable when they burnish specific legislation. In interviews with the Herald Editorial Board, candidates and incumbents frequently discussed support for higher education including WSU/Everett and UW/Bothell. Regarding K-12, everyone embraced the McCleary-decision reality that education is the state’s paramount duty, and it demands a major infusion of dinero. How do we finesse educational enhancements without revenue?

A comprehensive transportation package is in the works, but if it doesn’t include meaningful safety improvements to U.S. 2, the state’s notorious “highway of death,” then every member Snohomish County’s legislative delegation, Democrats and Republicans, should receive a failing grade. U.S. 2 is a case study in finger pointing and political gamesmanship because it snakes through a largely rural district. The excuses are as long as they are nauseating.

The Herald will revisit the political promises made and the promises still to keep. Voters weathered a season of noise. We expect results.