Sherwood’s Notebook: ‘Proof …Our Flag Was Still There’

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Whether your candidates won or lost, is there any hope our country will move beyond the political bitterness that now divides us?

It's remarkable to hear people on both the far left and far right point to Tuesday's election as proof positive the country itself is doomed.

Your Notebook has faith in America. We still like the ideal of "The Star-Spangled Banner" despite ongoing protests when it is sung and criticism of its racially tinged, barely known third stanza.

Whoever has won the presidency (our deadline came before the results) the country will survive and thrive. The doomsayers have every right to bemoan the tone, tenor and outcome of this election, but it is an insult to American voters to suggest we've lost our way permanently.

There are some Bernie Sanders voters still angry the country didn't embrace his progressive brand. The idea of voting for Hillary Clinton was anathema. The feeling was matched for different reasons on the far right.

Donald Trump ran an extraordinary campaign that will be dissected for decades. Were his early primary victories a measure of him or the dissatisfaction of the country?

Whatever the results, and however our national anthem falls short, your Notebook is hoping — corny as it may sound — that a substantial majority of Americans can still believe that we are still "the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

■ Early voting. A lot of people could not wait until the official Election Day.

In Maryland, the State Board of Elections told us that 859,928 people cast early ballots during the week of early voting. That number doubled the 2012 turnout of 430,573 votes.

In the District, about 101,000 people voted early, a substantial increase over 2012.

In Fairfax County, one in six voters cast an absentee ballot. Virginia, unlike Maryland and the District, does not allow simple early voting. You have to meet one of 14 reasons you can't show up on Election Day. (To Virginia's credit, one of those reasons is that you are in jail, either awaiting trial or being held on a misdemeanor conviction. Felons with convictions in place can't vote, but ask Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe if you want to know more about that.)

There were lots of local issues on ballots in the Washington region. We'll take a look at some of them next week when the dust settles.

■ Next up, the inauguration. Some disappointed folks whose candidate lost can look forward to being out of town the week of Jan. 15 to 24. That's Inauguration Week.

It will be the 58th presidential inauguration.

Something called the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region 58th Presidential Inauguration is leading planning for the quadrennial event. Its website will have information on inaugural events, as well as current and historic photos and other interesting aspects of the week.

The Joint Task Force coordinates all of the military ceremonial support activities during inaugural week. It notes that the military has participated in inaugural ceremonies dating back to George Washington in 1789. But that is just one of the organizations gearing up for the 2017 inauguration.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies plans and carries out the swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill, as well as the traditional luncheon that follows.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee will be set up shortly after this election by the president-elect. It will handle large and small decisions about the shape and feel of the inauguration.

All of these committees will work right up to the week of the inauguration, planning activities. In December, all the planners will gather at the D.C. Armory. That’s where a 60-by-40-foot planning map will be displayed as they go over the details of the big day. Military officials say on the Sunday before the inauguration, there will be a full dress rehearsal at sunrise.

■ Metro will be there. So there's a lot going on for that week. And one final thing, Metrorail has already said it will be open with longer hours for the installation of our new president. Some of you know your Notebook has an extreme suggestion that we made as an analyst on WAMU 88.5's Politics Hour. We suggested Metro close down for the whole inaugural week to prove to the federal government how important the system is and to suggest Congress get on board with helping Metro with operating appropriations and restructuring rather than just criticizing it.

We have never expected Metro to take such a daring step, but somehow, the federal government needs to get in the game with Metro. It is the spine of the region's mass transit network. It shouldn't be allowed to wither because of bad management and poor funding. Even if Metro were expertly run — and few organizations are — there wouldn't be enough money to run it successfully.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

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