Election day. Yippee! I thought torture was outlawed? No, it’s legal actually. Only here it’s called election day. On this day, and the run up to election day, you get to have people tell you to your face things that are designed to make you feel guilty, designed to make you fearful, and designed to get you to vote the way they want you to vote. I’m not exaggerating – think about the conversations you’ve had over the last week regarding the election and voting. Has anyone just asked you how you’re holding up, how you are going to talk with your kids about the horrendous election, how you are going to enjoy not hearing from candidates or party hacks for a bit? No worries, the next election cycle starts on Wednesday – are you excited? Me neither.
Anyway, on to the point of this post – my plans for election day. It will be like most Tuesdays. I have two classes at seminary. In the second one, we’ll probably be forced to talk about the election. I really don’t want to talk about the election. I don’t want to hear how if I vote a certain way I’m actually voting for someone I didn’t vote for. I don’t want to hear the rhetoric or the spin any longer – it’s empty and insulting. I don’t want to hear the sound bites or the slogans.
When I leave class, I’ll make my way back home. On the way home, I’ll stop and vote. I pray the line is not long – the last thing I want to do is hang out with people who have bought the campaign rhetoric hook-line-and-sinker. I’m not one of those people who thinks everyone should get out and vote. Be realistic here for a minute – do you really want people who are going to vote opposite of you to get out and vote? Of course you don’t. Why would you? Don’t give me the whole civic duty thing. Be honest – something campaigns and the rhetoric are notoriously short on – honesty.
I’ll vote and then go home, eat dinner with my family, spend time with them, and later do homework as I prepare for class on Wednesday. I have no plans on watching the returns. No need, I have no doubt that I’ll hear how it turns out – it’s unavoidable. I’m also pretty sure I can’t avoid all the spin that will go on as well from both sides.
Election day is one of the most depressing days of the year for me. It has been for some time. Part of it is because the people I vote for don’t win usually. A good portion of the reason they don’t win is that I have a habit of not accepting the names on the ballot at legitimate candidates – so I write in names for many of the positions. I can’t tell you how many offices I have written my wife’s name in or my neighbors’ names. I know them, I trust them, and I know they would do a far better job than any of the people on the ballot.
Tomorrow, I’ll go and vote. Looking at the ballot, I have quite a variety of people I am voting for – some on the ballot and some I’ll be writing in. Some are in the major parties and others are in minor parties or independents.
Vote, or don’t vote. It’s your decision. If you haven’t invested the time to learn about the candidates or policies, here’s some alternative advice – don’t go and vote, please. Yes, you can go and vote, but you have a responsibility to be informed and if you can’t do that for an election, do the responsible thing and sit it out. Don’t feel guilty about it either – you’re actually doing the responsible thing.
By Wednesday I hope it’s all over. The campaigns will be done and people will think they can get back to their lives just as before. They will think that campaigns have ended. Yet, the truth is the next campaign starts up on Wednesday. The discussions will be going on. The fundraisers will occur on Wednesday (no joke here). It’s all behind the scenes my friends and it doesn’t end. Sorry to burst your bubble on this.
If you need someone to talk with, I’m here. I won’t ask you how you voted, but rather, how are you managing? How are feeling about the election? How are you feeling about the result? Why? How much importance are you placing on the election? Why? How are you talking to your kids about the election? How are you going to break away from the constant onslaught of “news?” How are you going to manage and deal with all the constant social media posts about the results of the election? What’s more important than partisan politics? What would happen if you just turned it off for a time?
It’s time to talk with one another – if we can. It’s time to listen – if we can. It’s time to pray together. It’s time to move on with our lives and not place so much importance in our government and politicians. It’s not healthy to live like this. It’s not healthy for our nation to put so much reliance on who gets elected. It’s not healthy when people determine how they feel for the day based on what some politician has said or done. It’s not healthy. We’re better than this.
Maybe that’s what I’m most disappointed about. We’ve traded in our ideals and we’ve settled for this and called it legitimate.
Tomorrow I’ll go and vote. And then I’ll lament, regardless of the results because I know we can be better and we can do better. And then I’ll get up the next day and do what I can to be a better person and to make this a better place. I hope you join me in that endeavor.