Will Rogers said, "We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."
So that's what I'm doing.
I'm sitting on the curb and clapping and taking giddy pleasure in our many heroes. Some of these heroes will surprise you -- they're not supermen or wonder women.
They're just ordinary folks who feel the way I do and take pleasure from this recent election.
I'm just happy that the system worked as well as it did.
Yes, of course I have my favorite candidates, but the system worked without bloodshed, without the overt corruption that occurs in many societies.
I want to praise those who worked so hard to make our country function the way it was intended -- the good will, the optimism that what was happening was important.
There were young people, workers at polling places, volunteers doing their part to help their candidates.
Finally there were the millions who left the comfort of their homes, drove sometimes in rain, wind and snow who recognized their responsibility to this nation and voted.
Some were too young to vote for the candidates they believed in and I want to thank them.
There are thousands of people who work invisibly behind the scenes. There are so many of those.
But there's so much more that needs to be done. I take comfort from seeing the way the system works. That gives me pleasure and finally, hope.
The cost of this election has been obscene--billions have been spent while our infrastructure collapsed around us and while our schools starved.
This yearlong election process has exhausted many of us. Other countries elect their heads of state in a couple of months; why can't we?
And it's frightening to see the way unelected special interests with deep pockets can fashion our laws and mold opinion behind the scenes.
We have to rein in the way moneyed interests are using and exploiting our system, sometimes without any elected oversight.
We have too many needs to allow unelected lobbyists to write and manage so much of our legislation.
But I always thrill at the way this country works, as big and as diverse as it is. I've lived other places and my family has lived under other governments.
Other countries are often marred with scandals, corruption, payoffs and influence peddling. While we may have some corruption I think our system of elections is cleaner than most.
Not all of us got what we want, but we got some hope that funding for schools, at least, is an improvement.
Maybe we'll see a gradual improvement in the educational level of our population. We did see candidates who spoke for improvement in our schools and maybe we'll see improvements in test scores and schools will get needed financial support; that will raise the educational competence of the nation.
Schools are imperfect instruments, and they've been starved for too long and are poor stepchildren to the many competing needs we have in our society.
Too often our meanest, most recalcitrant citizens, who would prefer that their own self-interests come first, rule the schools with tight-fisted educational goals.
But we haven't invented anything that can replace the role of schools, though we all know people who have learned much without much formal education.
Mark Twain said, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education," but as an educator I have to admit there's a lot more to education than what you get out of a book.
I've known and worked with a lot of brilliant people who have lacked educational credentials but who have helped me unravel knotty intellectual problems that they solved with good old-fashioned brainpower.
They were educated in unconventional ways and they helped this society move forward. We need to recognize these self-made, self-educated folks among us and give them our thanks; they have made us a better nation.
I'm impressed with the overall education of our population; we have many principled and brilliant people who are steering our ship.
And most of them do it with a sense of altruism and a desire to better our society.
Yes, I'm hopeful. I believe we live in a place where things might be going our way. Let's hope we can get it right for a change.
Dan Harper is an Aptos photographer, journalist and former English department chairman at Cabrillo College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears occasionally.