Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Election Day. Tens of millions of votes will be cast by days end – most, by living, breathing American citizens – and those votes, along with a myriad of votes already cast, will ultimately reveal the president-elect who will succeed Barack Obama and be sworn in as 45th President of the United States this January. It is indeed a big day – election day – and, though it may seem every general election is deemed the most significant in our nation’s history, the choices we make in electing our duly sworn representatives are not to be taken lightly.
Regardless of whether or not we believe this election bears any more significance than the last, we vote. We vote because we are able. We vote because we feel it is our duty. We vote to exercise our right, to stand and be counted. Knowing we have a stake in the future of this nation, we vote. We vote for any number of reasons. Today… we vote. Then we wait.
We wait with bated breath, perhaps wringing our hands, in great anticipation of the results. Tantalized throughout the day by exit polling data, the analysis of experts, we wait. For some, perhaps many, varying degrees of anxiety may set in. This anxiety is a symptom of one’s perception or true understanding of that which is “at stake” in a given election. Our very way of life may indeed hang in the balance.
For others, there is no anxiety. In fact, they may believe the results of the election are of little consequence. Some would argue it makes little to no difference who is president, nor which senator or state representative is elected. They are all corrupt. They all seek power and would sell their respective souls to retain it.
So, what about you? Do you believe this is a particularly critical election? Do you feel there is much at stake? Do you feel you have voted for the man or woman who would lead this nation in the direction of your liking? You know what I think? I would submit to you this is the single most consequential election since that of 1860. Now, you may be nodding in agreement or shrugging in amusement, but before you presume we are kindred spirits or nothing of the like, let me explain how I arrived at such a bold conclusion.
Though the final results of this election are not yet known, one thing is certain: This has been an extraordinary election cycle, the likes of which I have never experienced. Think about it. While every election comes with its share of allegations, mudslinging, punditry, etc., all “accepted” by many as “just politics,” have we ever seen anything like this? Ever? I honestly cannot think of a conversation I have had with anyone regarding this election cycle that didn’t leave us both shaking our heads, bewildered. I, for one, am exhausted, embarrassed – heck – horrified by what I have seen an heard.
If we’re being honest, and in spite of what President Obama claims, we were a deeply divided people entering this election cycle. Ask yourself. Have things gotten better, or worse, since we started this process? In my opinion, the wedge was driven deeper during the primaries, and it’s only gotten worse. This has brought out the very worst in us. I have had to bite my tongue time and time again. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t like having to apologize for my behavior, but I have had my weak moments, indeed. My weakness stems from my inclination to be prideful, and when I have been attacked – even by people with whom I would otherwise agree on most issues – I have wanted to counter. Now, I have gotten much better – I pray daily for humility – but, admittedly, I’ve wanted to ring some people’s necks, figuratively speaking, of course.
Friends… This isn’t us. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t America. If it is, why in the world would anyone want to live here? We are not a nation of vile, foul-mouthed, bully-ish heathens, are we? If we are, is that truly who we want to be? Christians attacking Christians? Conservatives attacking conservatives. Democrats hating their Republican neighbor, and vice versa? Are we to be a nation with no moral compass? Are we to fear our fellow citizen? Trust no one? Are we now a nation of selfish, prideful, contemptible fools, hellbent on looking only after ourselves, forsaking all others? And, I might ask, where do we get off asking God to bless America, when we thank Him for nothing, demand He answer our prayers as we see fit, and refuse to do His bidding? (Food for thought.)
Okay, so we voted. We voted, and we await the results. But… What about tomorrow? If your candidate loses, what then? Will you be filled with rage, ready to march on D.C. or your state capital with torches and pitchforks? Say your candidate wins. Will you gloat and mock your “enemy” (aka your neighbor, relative, spouse?) Will you shamelessly patronize the losers and “encourage” them to find common ground – that ground, higher ground, on which you stand?
Have we burned too many bridges, this time? I fear we have. I fear there may be no coming back from this. And, if so, that is truly a shame. Then again, we were perhaps never more divided than we were during the Civil War. We came back from that. America, the thought of America, the idea of America, the American Dream… all these are contingent on We, The People. If America indeed falls, it is because we are a fallen people.
My friends, please join me in taking a long hard look in the mirror, doing some legitimate soul-searching, because no matter what happens today – tomorrow is coming.