I believe in the symbolism – and the power — of casting my ballot on a specific day in a specific place – the day of voting defined by law as the “first Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” So I resisted the temptation to vote early or vote absentee, even though it would have been more convenient. Somehow, I like the idea of braving the drizzle to cast my ballot. I embrace the notion that our form of government requires a bit of effort.
Tonight I will take my place in front of the television and settle in to watch election returns. Maybe before I turn in (in the Central Time Zone) we will have a good indication of who the next President will be. I hope though, the the networks won’t call the election before all the polls are closed!
Tradition means something to me. It always has.
A Long Campaign
Because the campaigning began so long ago, the prevailing attitude this morning may be simple relief that it’s over. The identity of the next president is, in reality, less important that the need to get on with the business of the nation. Who takes the reins of government will inherit a nation that has serious issues to address, problems to solve and citizens to reassure.
I am not so naïve as to believe that either candidate can or should “bring us all together.” What we ought to expect is that the new president – and the Congress — will diligently examine our nation’s policies, recognize the challenges we face and be willing to hear from all sides to work on solutions.
The fatal flaw of this campaign, in my opinion, has been the persistent notion that one side is right and the other wrong. That has drowned out all reasonable discourse.
I continue to believe that it is my right to dissent, to criticize, to dispute, to rail against injustice, to seek change, to work for good, to change my mind, to accept some government actions as good and proper and to denounce others as shortsighted, ineffective, restrictive or just plain wrong.
Actually, I believe it is my duty.
And I still believe in the possibility of a more perfect union.
If nothing else, this election cycle should have confirmed the fact that we are a nation of individuals. That is our strength, as well as the American challenge. It has always been so.
If there are any doubts in your mind, read history.
If you think this campaign has been agonizing, think again. Many elections in our relatively short history have been hard-fought, disruptive and divisive. Passions run strong when it comes to selecting leaders. I see that as hopeful, rather than the mark of a faulty system. For the 227 years that the United States has had a president in power, relatively few elections have been smooth and without controversy.
Many have been closely won; a few have been disputed. We have witnessed any number of elections with viable third-party candidates and some with four names on the ballot, all of whom had hopes of being sworn in as president, all of whom boasted loyal followers.
Nasty campaigns are nothing new. Early presidents, save only George Washington, were not unanimous choices. More than once it has happened that the winner in the electoral college did not win the popular vote. But what our system has always had going for it is that it is a peaceful transfer of power.
Back to the Future
So, today, as I left my local polling station, I was once again upbeat about my country’s future. We have weathered a long campaign season, but now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Although I am sure we still face much “analysis” from news networks and historians about the election, we have important work to do. I look forward to watching the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, of the 45th president of the United States, whoever that may be.