Congratulations to all who participated in our nation’s democratic process! Running for office, managing campaigns, getting out the vote, standing in line to vote, engaging important social, economic and global issues all require enormous investments of passion, energy, and patriotism. Truly every election, in the end, tallies winners and losers as do all competitions. Some former candidates will have the honor of serving our nation as elected officials and others will chose from a variety of pathways now before them.
For the electorate, you, me and others who filled in ovals, punched out chads, or touched screens yesterday, early or at the last minute, there are no losers. Sure, your choice may or may not have won, but you the voter are always victorious when you choose to claim your responsibility to express your choice, your values, your hopes and dreams for the present and the future of our nation and indeed global society. The I Voted sticker is a medallion of victory!
Generations of people, here and in other lands, never had the opportunity or still cannot claim the responsibility of choosing their government. If your candidate was not chosen or your issue not adopted, you may feel as if your vote was for nothing, a waste of your time. No matter what your issue or who you wanted to win, our nation is bigger than one idea or any one person. Our nation is what it is because of you, me and others who disagree on ideas and issues, choose and support different candidates, invest our hearts and minds into this grand experiment, as messy as it is, of governing for the people and by the people.
So, now as the signs are discarded (recycled), the ads cease, and eventually the pundits calm down (if possible), our next great responsibility is to not start whining or gloating, but rather to hold those elected accountable to the electorate, to not only be the governed but to govern as active participants in support or protest of our local, state and national manifestations of government. And, most importantly, to see our nation as bigger than a red and blue map, to see the value of every person beyond their politics, and to see the future as an opportunity for making our nation and the world, better yet. Well done, voter!
To those who chose to protest by not participating in the election, yes, part of the freedom of the democratic process is your right to choose not to participate. Now that the election is over, it is time for you to get to work on whatever you were protesting, maybe even time to run for office or organize a campaign for someone else; it is your right and responsibility.
And, finally to those who just don’t want to be bothered by it all I share this much used but powerful quote from Martin Niemöller a German pastor and theologian who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp (1937-1945):
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Voting is a precious right and responsibility. If you didn’t vote yesterday, I hope you will consider voting in the next election, local, state or national. Then you will be able to join the victory party on the day after election and celebrate your accomplishment!