Opinion » Editorial

Time Out

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This past week, Flyer City Beat columnist John Branston argued in an online posting that "consolidation supporters, if they have not done it already, should seriously consider shutting down their operations to a bare minimum of advocacy."

His reasoning was that the metro charter referendum was almost certain to lose, and lose badly, "and there is no point in beating up on Memphis any more when Memphis is going to have to live with itself on November 3rd." Branston, who said he would vote for consolidation himself, continued, "When they emphasize the shortcomings of Memphis, consolidation forces are adding to the misery index, however well-intentioned their efforts."

In other words, To Whom It May Concern, stop foaming at the mouth about this benighted realm and its ignorant citizenry, prepare to accept the verdict of reality, figure out what the mistakes were in the current approach to consolidation, and lay the groundwork for another, improved effort later on.

For that matter, if a miracle should intervene between now and the end of business on November 2nd and the consolidation referendum should be approved, your rapture will be all the more intense for its being unexpected. But don't hold your breath.

A generation ago, the great physician and social scientist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the pattern of response — for an individual, a family, or a culture — to an undesired outcome: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Patterns being patterns, it is probably impossible to avoid touching all the bases before touching home again, but the important thing is to remember that this is where you want to be — in touch with reality.

"Time out" is the euphemism employed by teachers these days for the old remedy of sitting in the corner and waiting out the cycle of frustration. And we recommend it as self-therapy for all those whose expectations are soon to be confounded by this or that electoral verdict.

And yes, we would recommend it also for the diminishing, but still considerable, number of people who found the August 5th election results so stunning and beyond belief (despite clear warnings from all available advance turnout statistics) that they continue to question those results.

Insofar as their reaction has yielded considerable information about the inadequacies of our electoral system, its administration, its mechanics, and its possibly flawed technology, it is all to the good and could result in the perfection of certain practices and the eradication of others. And if an appeal, on legitimate legal grounds, of Chancellor Arnold Goldin's dismissal of the suit brought by 10 defeated candidates brings a different outcome, along with more welcome information, so be it.

But there is such a thing as going too far, and some of the disputants in this case (not necessarily the plaintiffs themselves) are well over that line — and have been for some time. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — fine. But there is no place in that list for exploitation — and certainly not for purely political ends.

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