This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
You can almost hear history’s hinges creak today.
American government floats in limbo. Executive power in the world’s dominant nation teeters on a fulcrum. Control of Congress has become a guess.
In Washington, the entire House of Representatives and half the Senate are in flux. The governorship is changing hands, from Chris Gregoire, but will Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee inherit it? Will Washington legalize gay marriage or marijuana? Whose interests will have the upper hand in Olympia for the next four years?
As of this morning, no one knows. The pollsters are irrelevant. Elaborate campaign strategies have been reduced to frantic efforts to persuade supporters to fill out their ballots.
The process deserves awe. The status quo has been dissolved; under America’s constitutional order, political authority has been handed back to ordinary citizens. Their ballots, marked with felt-tips and ballpoints, are shifting or confirming the leadership of the nation and Washington state.
Behind today’s elections are a handful of clauses in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it …”
Election day is precisely when America’s national, state and local government derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Our ballots are the consent forms.
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