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Our view: Down to the wire

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Campaign signs are lined up outside of Southside Library on Wednesday in Winston-Salem.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime.” The statement has been repeated so often over the last 30 years that it almost seems like an empty cliche, nothing but boilerplate campaign rhetoric.

Unfortunately, it’s often been true; it continues to be freshly true because of the trajectory our nation has taken as we’ve become more divided and more diverse — a development that some have embraced and some have opposed that now winds up generating culture-war battles that distract us from acting on real issues that affect all of us.

This election does not represent a final contest by any means — though it may feel so on Nov. 9 — but it is an especially consequential election because the winners will wield an unusual amount of influence on the especially contentious issues we face, including the right to abortion; the health of our planet and, thus, our children; the war for freedom in Ukraine; and what our children will be taught in school about our history and about our present circumstances.

The economy is important. But people whose sole criterion for candidate approval is the hope of buying cheap gas can turn in their patriot card. Other issues are more consequential. Decisions made today will be in effect when we’re all driving electric.

The winners will also be able to influence how elections are held and whether that will allow one side an unfair advantage. With North Carolina legislative Republicans going all the way to the Supreme Court to try to cement their party’s power to gerrymander with no oversight into place, permanently, every state resident who appreciates the freedom to choose has cause to be concerned.

As we go to the polls, we do so with the 2020 election still ringing in our ears. Some claim it’s time to let it go. But its consequences still reverberate today, especially among those who want to deny its results — and who campaign on their denial of its results.

In a recent episode of his podcast “Hold These Truths,” Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas — a former Navy SEAL and the last man anyone would want to call a “RINO” in a dark alley — said that his colleagues know they’re lying when they say the 2020 election was stolen.

“… (T)hey’re like, ‘Yeah, we know that, but we just, you know, people just need their last hurrah. Like, they just need to feel like we fought one last time. Trust me, it’ll be fine.’ And I was like, ‘No, it won’t. That’s not what people believe and that’s not what you’re telling them. …’ So we have a lot of people in the political world that are just willing to say things they know aren’t true, they know aren’t true. It’s a huge manipulation.”

This election is also consequential because of the unprecedented extremists who have embedded themselves in the mechanisms of the polls, ostensibly to stop the voter fraud they insist, contrary to all evidence, is real. In doing so, they threaten to choke the entire process with chaos.

If the goal is to make elections safer and more secure, it doesn’t help to overburden election staffers with public records requests, as some election deniers have been doing in places like El Paso County, Colo., Maricopa County, Ariz., and to a lesser degree, in Forsyth County. If that’s the goal. It does, however, create potential static for challenging the next election results, which could be useful if one expects to lose.

We like to think that this extremism is limited to the national ballot or other states. We’ve not, here, suffered the inanities we’ve witnessed elsewhere.

But we’ve seen hints of it in local campaigns, even if it’s a little more subtle. If its proponents win this year, we’ll see even more.

The Journal has reported on some local campaign friction, the kind that occurs during every election cycle; claims of deceptive campaign ads, claims of undue influence from dark money.

But some candidates have also expressed bright visions of our possible future.

It falls to each individual voter to measure whom to trust — and why.

To those who have voted and will vote: Thank you. Thank you for being part of this mad scheme we call a nation and for giving of yourself to exercise a portion of the American dream.

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