Today, more than any day of the year (and probably more than any day in four years), the United States of America will divide itself into camps. Red state versus blue state. Donkey versus Elephant. Democrat versus Republican. And don’t forget the Independents, the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Rainbows. Who knows, there might still be a Bull Moose devotee out there, somewhere?
Today (or if you’re me, last week) people are going to vote. We’ll debate who we think should win this election and why. These moments have the potential to be some of my favorite all year: I love when people share what they believe, defend it, and listen to the other side. Hopefully, in a debate, I’ll get into where this country is going, and where it should be headed.
But there are certain truths (we hold self-evident) which we forget that there was a time when they ever seemed uncertain. First, we assume that whoever loses (no matter how long it takes to decide which candidate that will be) will say “I did my best, but it didn’t work this time,” and he will walk away. He will not incite a rebellion or attempt to persuade the Army to see the election differently.
At America’s birth (and in parts of the word even now), that was not the case. George Washington may have had the opportunity to have presidency that lasted until his death, but he didn’t. He stepped down. Impressive, honorable, and a gift to his country.
And there is a second truth: all adults can vote. No one can be prevented from voting based on the color of their skin or their gender. Yet, in fact, women only received the vote less than one hundred years ago. My great grandmother did not get to vote when she was eighteen because she was a woman.
These are sobering thoughts, and one more reason that I am thankful for where I live. That my country has become what it has become, even if the work continues. And, whatever party triumphs, that’s what I’m going to remember about election day.