Election '06: Katie Weighs In

As Katie Couric prepares for her first big election night at CBS, she offers some thoughts on the political process, and the hours ahead. -- Ed.
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Today's the big day! It's very exciting. But it's also somewhat disconcerting. In the last midterm election, only about 39% of the voting age population actually voted.

There's got to be a better way to get people more involved in the process.

This year, discontent with Iraqis major motivating factor. And while war is difficult and has tragic consequences, it has served to galvanize a lot of people. It seems many Americans now want to have their voices heard.

Some of it is also born out of frustration with the people now in charge. In our last CBS News poll, congress got a dismal approval rating of just 29%. But the only way to restore faith in government, it seems to me, is to reform it, through campaign finance reform, keeping pork under control, keeping a tighter reign on lobbyists and their influence and somehow breaking the cycle of getting elected and pleasing special interests so you can get elected again.

There's so much that can be done if there's a will to do it. With these changes, people may feel more confident, and have more faith, and want to become more involved, and not feel as though the whole system is rigged against the common citizen.

And what about those nasty ads? Can't we do anything about that?

Having said that, I think about today and all the people who have put themselves out there to run for office. It's something that requires a great deal of heroism. In many tight races, right now, candidates are wondering where they'll be and what they'll be thinking tomorrow at this time -- whether they'll give concession speeches or do a happy dance at their victory party.

But this is a culmination of months, even years of focus, hard work and preparation. And while politics in general needs a massive overhaul -- and I wish it was a business that would attract more people and not just career politicians -- those who are willing to go for it and serve for the right reasons all deserve, if not our vote, then our respect for just getting into the game.

Meanwhile, I have to say we've got a great team tonight. I love chatting with Bob Schieffer. Nicole Wallace and Mike McCurry have the inside scoop, and our reporters are all terrific. My goal tonight is to not be too "inside baseball" and really explain to people what they're seeing, why they're seeing it, and what it all means. Too often, we've immersed ourselves in political minutiae; we can't see the forest for the trees. We're going to try to make sure we see the forest, keeping our eyes on the big picture while giving you results, as well. I hope I'm able to get in some color, too. (For example, did you know that Montana Senate candidate John Tester is missing three fingers on his left hand from a meat grinding accident when he was a child?? Or that Rahm Emanuel apparently cut off part of his middle finger in a meat slicer, too? Clearly, some Democrats should contemplate becoming vegetarians…)

I hope I'll be able to mention that Virginia senatorial candidate James Webb, a Democrat, wrote in a 1979 article that the Naval Academy is "a horny woman's dream." I'd like to mention that because I've never said "horny" on TV! But seriously, his attitude toward women has been as big a campaign issue as his opponent's alleged racial insensitivity.

I expect tonight will be a little rock and roll, and perhaps a bit rough around edges, but that's what makes live television exciting.

Now go out and vote!