Thankfully, Election Day is almost here. The mood is such that by now Tuesday could arrive accompanied by bushels of chocolate covered strawberries, truckloads of bouquets, puppies and kittens for all, the Rockettes, and cures for every known communicable disease – and it still wouldn’t be more welcome than it already is.
During this exhausting year we have all suffered through relentlessness, excessive levels of hate, dismissiveness, abuse, moral and intellectual superiority, highhanded behavior, lies, and degradation. Our anxiety is ratcheted up while our reason slowly suffocates. Sane people question the motives and patriotism of others who, under rational circumstances, would not be open to this kind of harsh, naked judgement. Remember when a difference of opinion was not a line in the sand? It is getting difficult, isn’t it? For all the rhetoric about future walls, they are already going up. But these walls are invisible and far more dangerous. Families and friendships have splintered over this election, possibly irrevocably. In a cycle filled with horrifying truths, this is perhaps the most soul-crushing.
But it is not hopeless. Here’s the thing to remember as Tuesday comes and goes. Most of America is decent. Most of America is compassionate. Most of America believes in fairness, justice, and opportunity. It often appears as though this isn’t true, but it is. It just doesn’t get the same attention. Instead, this ridiculous notion that if you’re not 100% with me you’re 100% against me has hijacked the conversation. And it is killing us.
We all have issues close to our heart, the ones a candidate must absolutely support to earn our vote. Nothing wrong with that. A strong democracy relies on the principle that differing opinions are encouraged, that all perspectives are analyzed and debated, so the right course of action can be taken. Ideally, this benefits society more than damages it. That’s progress. That is how America works – or at least how it is supposed to work.
Think of America as a tightrope walker. Her significant challenge is to balance all the weights in her right hand with all the weights in her left hand – while simultaneously negotiating her way along a thin rope straddling a bottomless pit. Talk about the importance of a sustainable balance! If she does she can move one small step forward. If she doesn’t…well, down she goes taking all of us with her. Despite the current perception, Americans want to feel we are in this together. We want harmony. We want common purpose. But desperately flailing to grasp a saving hand as we tumble into the abyss is not the way to achieve it. So when you vote do so with optimism. We all know America is not perfect, but we also know she is already great. Your vote is proof of that. And who knows, if you get extra lucky you may even come home with a puppy.