One way or the other, there is going to be half a nation – or, more accurately, less than half of a nation – that is really, really disappointed after Election Day.
It was a strange feeling to realize that when I write my next column, we will have elected a new president. As I write this, the vote is seven days away.
I have been thinking about how, one way or the other, there is going to be half a nation – or, more accurately, less than half of a nation – that is really, really disappointed. Not just angry, not just bitter – but that vulnerable and sad feeling; pure disappointment. This part of the nation will feel as if the country is going to go straight off the rails and right over the cliff headlong into danger, so if your chosen candidate wins, it is best for you to tread lightly the first few days after the election. It will be time, if your candidate wins, to practice understanding and tact with your neighbor, co-worker, family member or friend whose candidate has lost. On a larger scale, on television and in the public square, it is important to realize the feelings of the part of the citizenry that is disappointed and betrayed by their voting brethren. It probably won’t happen in our knee-jerk society, but it is important to go for it personally, and cause some good ripples in the waters right around you.
Since the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism has recently announced that media coverage of the candidates has indeed been biased to the left (no surprise to half of us), I will again relate my support for John McCain. I simply feel that Barack Obama is not a good candidate – yet. In four to eight years, he will be truly formidable as an opponent, but to me he just isn’t right now. My view apparently is not a barometer of the nation, since Obama is currently leading in many polls. But if Obama wins, I will be really disappointed. I will feel that a potentially dangerous choice has been made – I’ll be plain old bummed out. If McCain should somehow win, I’ll be sensitive to my friends who feel passionately about Obama, and I will try to remember how high the stakes were for them, too, and respond accordingly. And if we ever find out that Obama was not elected due to race, this would be a greater catastrophe than any other. This would be a national moral, ethical problem that would make me sadder and more worried than I would be if Obama wins. We need to be the country that we think we are.
This is your country. The purple mountains majesty are yours. So are the nighttime city skylines, the wheat before it is threshed and the rocky and smooth shores pounded by the never-ending tides. The pony rides, the New England snow, the smile of a passing stranger – these are all yours. This is the America that is really yours, not the pundit-driven, side-choosing, frenetic America that you may think of if you never get outside and take a deep breath. When you head into the voting booth, think of this America, and how precious it is, and how much it means to you to live here, and how blessed you are to have either been born here, or to have been welcomed and absorbed into its breathing human fabric. In other countries, there is gunfire and blood at the voting station, and still the people come, trying to achieve something even close to America. The progressive liberal writer Thom Hartmann pointed out recently that America is the only country founded on an idea of freedom, rather than on a genetically linked people. Part of that idea of freedom, I feel, is the serious responsibilities of freedom; to live in peace with ideological, political, religious or social differences, which includes a conservative like myself appreciating the value of a progressive liberal Air America host’s words. Your vote is freedom expressed, freedom going from idea to reality. Your vote is precious, as is your neighbor’s vote, which will likely be different from yours. Soldiers die to protect both votes – the one they agree with, and the one they don’t agree with. A precious, breathing sacrifice for a precious, breathing nation.
So if your candidate wins, tread softly, and offer a little understanding and a shared look forward. This is your America; keep improving it with tolerance and peace.
You can connect with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.