Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whatever the outcome, be proud of our democratic tradition

Despite anything that happens today -- whether Democrats pull off an upset or Republicans take over total control of Congress -- we cannot fault the system of democracy, nor of the system of governance that was guaranteed to us by the founding fathers, the U.S. Constitution.

Every two years, we are afforded the opportunity to select our representatives to be our voices in national government. This tradition has gone uninterrupted since our nation's inception, unaffected by wars, extreme poverty, or national disasters great and small. There aren't many countries on this small planet of ours that can make that claim, can say that their tradition of democracy has consistently worked for over two hundred years.

Yes, we've had some problems in our past. There have been a small handful of presidential elections chosen on the basis of the outdated Electoral College system, which doesn't always respect the democratic will of the people. There have been scores of people, over the course of many decades, who have been refused the right to vote on the basis of their skin color alone. There have been countless efforts, in recent years as well as the past, of fliers promoting the wrong election day, or warning citizens that if they vote they will face dire consequences. And there have been times where a majority of citizens have chosen not to exercise their democratic rights as citizens, have sat at home instead of taking part in the process to choose their representatives.

The process itself, as well as its outcomes, can at times be disheartening. We often rail against the number of political ads, the phone calls we receive during dinnertime, and the strangers who walk up to our houses in order to ask us a few questions about whom we prefer in this year's elections. But these minor annoyances are democracy in action, a citizen-led and citizen-run effort to determine the course our country will take, and should be celebrated even if they do cause us to roll our eyes once in awhile.

We also wince at the representatives we sometimes choose. A lot of people I know aren't going to be happy, one way or another, with the election's outcome in the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, for example. But whatever the outcome, democracy works. In races all across the country, incumbents will remain in place, and those who lose will peacefully step aside in order to preserve the democratic will of the people.

Few Americans acknowledge that point. While I may later write today of the losses that burn my soul, that cause me to be upset with the outcome of the process, I still CELEBRATE the process itself. I thank God every day that I live in a place as great as the United States, which allows me the right to have an equal voice in determining who should and shouldn't take part in our government's highest and most honorable offices.


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