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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2006
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EDITORIAL

It's time to forgive and forget nasty campaigns

"Democracy," wrote Oscar Wilde, "means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."

Locally and nationally, it's been a no-holds-barred slugfest in recent weeks, with many jabs straying well below the belt. Good people have said mean things to other good people; respectable people have lost sight of all but their goal during the heat of the campaign.

But the ugliness has always been a part of our form of government, a remarkably ugly process leading to a form of government that is better than any alternative.

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams duked it out in a presidential race. Mr. Adams, Mr. Jefferson charged, planned to marry the king's daughter and give the country back to the British. Mr. Adams' camp responded that founding father Jefferson was "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father."

In 1884, Republicans accused Democrat Grover Cleveland of fathering an illegitimate child. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson accused Barry Goldwater of want-ing a nuclear war.

In spite of it all, though, America has managed to limp along, a model for the free world. One reason has been our nation's ability to unite behind the new leaders, whether we wanted them in office or not. Another has been our ability, pushed to the limit at times, to forgive and forget.

The election is over. Now it is time to remind ourselves that even those we did not vote for have their merits, that even those who cast aspersions on their opponents may have a sincere desire to serve their state or their nation.

Thank goodness, though, we don't have to deal with this mess more frequently than we do. In his concession speech Tuesday, Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee may have put it best: "I love my country more than I love this process."

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