Today is Election Day in America. Here are some non-partisan thoughts that I am penning during the second half of my lunch:
- I voted in my home town this morning right when the polls opened at 7 AM. I was delighted to see that there was a long line waiting to get in. It was the best of both worlds: a long line signified a solid voter turnout and the fact that I got through quickly and on my way to work before long showed the efficiency and hard work of the volunteers inside Town Hall.
- I had conversations with at least 10 fellow Deerfield, NH citizens from very different political persuasions. Unlike the ridiculous blue-red divide we see in our country, our differences didn’t seem to matter in the voting line as we talked about our children and the remarkable democracy we share.
- Yes, the remarkable democracy. I have no idea who will win this tight Presidential contest as I read this, but pause for a moment and consider the gift that democracy grants us. Do you remember the US election of 2000? Al Gore won the popular vote, but the victor was George W. Bush who secured the electoral vote despite receiving less votes from US citizens. Is there any country but America who could have navigated that conundrum better? Somehow, the transition to the electoral college winner was smooth and without significant disorder. The election was certainly controversial but also peaceful in the end. Peaceful transfer does not happen easily-consider the Tiananmen Square Incident in China in 1989 when peaceful protestors called for governmental change which was quickly squashed by the Chinese military. Or, in 1994 when South Africans lined up for as long as 12 hours to vote in Nelson Mandela in the first multiracial election that country had ever seen.
- Yes, the Presidential and Congressional races are crucial. But whomever the eventual victors are, remember that as individuals, we have significant power to make change in our schools, communities, and throughout the country. In our democracy, our power does not end at the voting booth. While our elected leaders may have vastly different philosophies or methodologies, for the most part, most Americans agree on the goals. If your candidate does not win, do not despair. Our history as a democracy is more powerful than the results of today’s election.
- Despite my undergraduate degree in Political Science, my youngest son is more informed on matters of politics than I am. Last night he showed me on his iPad his own prediction of the electoral college blues and reds when all is said and done. Jake is incensed (no exaggeration) that he is barely too young to vote today. He won’t turn 18 until next February but he is already looking forward to voting in town elections next March. If only we had his same passion for democracy.
Most of all, if you haven’t voted. Please do so. I’ll be joining you and millions of Americans as we watch the election returns and pundits giving their analysis tonight. Enjoy the sport but appreciate the freedom we have to elect our leaders.