It is a grand tradition of American democracy. True, it is not one of the older ones, but it is no less appreciated by the republic's citizenry than those of longer standing.
And it is appreciated by all the citizenry---liberals and conservatives, libertarians and agnostics. Lance the mortgage banker and Joe the plumber.
It is not an annual tradition; it is, in fact, only quadrennial, but this is the year, and is in fact almost the day. The excitement is palpable. We Americans are now only a matter of hours from celebrating what has now become one of the most eagerly awaited occasions that our political process has to offer.
The day after election day.
Soon there will be no more Obama ads on TV.
Soon there will be no more McCain ads on TV.
Soon neither presidential candidate will be appearing on the kinds of programs more suited to guest shots from supporting actress in sitcoms.
Soon the phrase "I'm So-and-So and I approved this message" will go the way of "I've got to get my act together."
Soon "Saturday Night Live" will be, as it has been for so long now, bereft of material.
Soon there will be no more phone calls from Bill Clinton. (How he got my number is still a mystery to me.)
Soon there will be no more phone calls from my local Congressional candidate, although the last one I received, according to the little screen on my phone, came from Salt Lake City and I live in Connecticut.
Soon either Keith Olbermann or Sean Hannity will be crowing.
Soon the other will be demanding a recount.
Soon those celebrities who swore to move to other countries if their candidate lost will decide they can more producctively serve their causes by remaining stateside and grousing at everything the winner does.
Soon the pundits will begin to wind down, to get in the last plugs for their prescience or the last excuses for their blunders before they hibernate for a few days and then emerge, as sure of themselves as ever, to predict the members of the winner's cabinet and the likely results of his presidency.
Soon it will be possible to have dinner with friends and talk about Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Roth or digitally remastered re-issues of Duke Ellington.
Soon the bumper stickers will have to be scraped off motor vehicles, lest the driver appear to be either gloating or wallowing in his grief or unaware of the results of the voting.
And, eventually, the signs urging people to cast their ballots for a certain candidate will come down from the yards. The lawns will once again be covered with dying leaves, not dead endorsements.
It all begins on Wednesday, and it is enough to make someone who is proud of being an American even prouder.