Election Day is Here

It is finally here: today is election day.

Though many of us are feeling fatigued from the months (years?) of campaign emails, ads, phone calls, and news coverage, it is important to not lose entirely the significance of this day.

Somewhere in the drudgery of waiting in line at the polls something pretty great is happening: we are interjecting our own voice into America’s political system. I could give the speech about how, elsewhere in the world, people are giving their lives for a chance to do this very thing in their own nations. But we don’t have to go that far. I could tell you instead about how, not really that long ago, Americans were fighting and dying for this right.

And it didn’t end once the King left, either. Soon African Americans, women, and all disenfranchised Americans launched their own efforts for this right and were imprisoned, humiliated, and in some instances killed. This was not long ago.

Which brings us to today, to waiting in that line.

It’s easy to get cynical about the process, perhaps especially when we consider the billions of dollars being funneled into these months (years!) of campaigning, and when we consider the ugliest moments campaigning can bring us. When we know it can pit brother against brother, county against county, and divide a nation into electoral college vs popular vs red vs blue.

But, at its most fundamental level, that has almost nothing to do with our vote. Our vote can stay clean from all of that. If we keep ourselves informed, if we ask ourselves what kind of nation we want a part in building, it can still be an historic, simple act. It can remain imbued with the power and inspiration it was born out of, and no amount of mudslinging or special interest group dollars, really, will ever touch that.

All we have to do is show up.

“The County Election, after George Caleb Bingham” by John Sartain. 1854.


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