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Commentary: ‘Boring’ won in the midterms. That’s good news for better government.

From the commentary: Americans want better results. They want a government that’s efficient and effective and improves their lives. They expect and deserve elected leaders who will fix the damn roads.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers speaks to press outside of the Maple Bluff Village Center on Nov. 8, 2022, in Madison, United States.
(Jim Vondruska/Getty Images/TNS)
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As he stumped for reelection in a yellow school bus, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers reminded voters that four years after he’d pledged to “fix the damn roads,” the state had paved and patched more than 5,000 miles of roads after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into transportation projects.

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From the commentary: Perhaps the ultimate point is that Pompeo’s attack on Weingarten and teachers must do just that. Pompeo’s demagogic words must bring together all the sane patriots who still call themselves Republicans. They must unite to condemn his message — and tell Americans we must work with our teachers to help them build the infrastructure that will be America’s ultimate bridge to tomorrow.
From the commentary: Ocasio-Cortez has a long record of pushing primary challenges to Democrats deemed insufficiently radical. These attempts are almost always unsuccessful though draining to the incumbent.

At an election night party following his victory in a hard-fought race, Evers highlighted the power of keeping his campaign promises and delivering results. “Some people call it boring, but you know what, Wisconsin? As it turns out, boring wins,” he said.

After a history-defying election, we learned a few things: High voter turnout, especially among young people, tipped the balance in key races. Election deniers who sought to take control of election systems in swing states generally lost. And competence and results mattered to voters.

While pundits will be analyzing these election results for months and years, the meaning we take from these midterms is that voters care deeply about the future of democracy. Voters chose normal over extreme — and facts over conspiracy theories — and sent a clear message that they want a government that listens and responds to their needs.

“Boring wins” may sound anachronistic in an era in which politicians, CEOs and celebrities often compete for who can draw the most viral attention or dominate the news cycle, but it’s a winning electoral and governing strategy in a highly polarized country. In fact, we’re seeing this results-first leadership style play out across the country, in red states and blue states.

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In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee, who comfortably secured a second term, is using evidence-based budgeting to maximize the impact of state spending, whether it’s to prevent summer learning loss or reduce recidivism among young people involved in the criminal justice system.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis quietly cruised to reelection, running on a record of measurable improvements in transportation, health care and early childhood education. “The fact is we did something simple,” he told supporters on election night. “We focused on issues that really affect people’s lives, and we delivered real results.”

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser, who became only the second mayor in the District of Columbia’s history to win three consecutive terms, has pushed city government to take a data-driven approach, including evaluating whether its investments of American Rescue Plan funds are improving residents’ lives.

Filling potholes, removing trash, broadening access to pre-K and improving other essential services may sound boring, but it’s the glue that binds a government to its residents. When elected leaders make their governments work better, they build the trust to achieve greater progress and implement even bolder solutions.

We saw it this past month when Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin invested $1 million in increasing early childhood literacy by expanding the evidence-based Birmingham Talks program. We’re seeing it in Texas, which is using outcomes-driven contracts to achieve better results for workers. We’re seeing it in Chicago, where city leaders are piloting the nation’s largest cash assistance program and evaluating the results, offering insights to other cities on how to reduce poverty and strengthen the safety net.

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From the commentary: This fetish with identity started as a tic of the left, which tends to believe that voters want candidates who represent certain groups, as opposed to certain ideas. What it should have learned by now is that Republicans are perfectly capable of running their own candidates of color, witness their support in the Georgia senate race of the unintelligible Herschel Walker, a Black football player.
From the commentary: Still, as Biden quietly marked his 80th birthday on Nov. 13, the basic Democratic dilemma remained: Will it be best for the party — and the country — to renominate the nation’s oldest president, even if the alternative is chaos?
From the commentary: We have become hyphenated Americans with too many clinging to their native land in language and culture. No nation can be sustained in its character without controlling who is allowed to enter. Other nations have far more restrictive immigration laws and paths to citizenship than ours.
From the commentary: The question becomes: How much further can we keep expanding the number of domestic birds that are grown and slaughtered? How much longer can this vicious cycle continue before it explodes?
From the commentary: Those kinds of cross-party relationships don’t exist in today’s hyper-partisan world, so McCarthy will be pretty much flying solo.
From the commentary: It's a safe assumption that fear of crime is what flipped several suburban New York congressional districts to Republicans. The fears may not match the reality, but elected officials should not add fuel to them with careless talk. Kathy Hochul was lucky this time.
From the commentary: From all the reporting I've done about the Latino vote over the past three decades, along with the experience I've had for nearly 40 years as a Latino voter, there are a handful of factors that determine whether Latinos — who tend to register Democratic by 2 to 1— are at least open to voting for a Republican.
From the commentary: In his new book "So Help Me God," Pence quotes Trump as pressuring him to overturn the results of the 2020 election by rejecting electoral votes from the states. When he refuses, Pence says Trump told him "you're too honest." It was cynicism at its worst and what so many people hate about Washington and politics.
From the commentary: Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.
From the commentary: DeSantis, Kemp, Abbot and other governors like them make the best presidential candidates for Republicans. ... They’re the ones who know how to fix things and get things done.

It’s a lesson for a closely divided Congress next year, with Democrats narrowly retaining control of the Senate and Republicans gaining a slim majority in the House. Voters aren’t looking for ideological extremes or games of chicken over funding the government and avoiding default on our nation’s debt.

Americans want better results. They want a government that’s efficient and effective and improves their lives. They expect and deserve elected leaders who will fix the damn roads.

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Michele Jolin is CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit Results for America, which uses evidence-based practices to achieve results-driven solutions. Jolin was a White House senior adviser for social innovation under President Barack Obama. Lisa Morrison Butler is executive vice president and chief impact officer at Results for America and previously was commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services. This commentary is the columnists' opinion. Send feedback to: opinion@wctrib.com.

©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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