The excitement of too many months of campaigning, mud-slinging, and the general insanity of the mid-term election will soon be over.
I suspect there will be a collective sigh of relief across the land as residents are once again able to watch television without keeping one hand on the mute button, and able to open their mailboxes without a pile of propaganda spewing out.
I know we are weary. I know the road has been long. I know some of us will be much happier when it is over.
However, I feel compelled to share a few final thoughts before the election.
First, violence is never OK. Recently, we have seen images on the news that showed people resorting to violence because they disagreed with the political positions of someone else.
We simply cannot tolerate this. The day we resort to physical violence to silence the free speech of others is the day we all lose our freedom.
We cannot condone physical violence in others, either.
Second, progress requires patience.
One of the things that I found most promising about the last election was the number of new voters who participated. This included both young voters who were eligible to vote for the first time, and older voters who simply hadn’t bothered to vote in the past.
I have heard recently that many of these voters are not expected to vote this year. The reason given is that they are disappointed that things did not change as quickly as they would have liked, so now, they are turning their backs on the system and saying they are not going to vote.
Nothing worthwhile is easy, and change does not happen overnight.
It is, perhaps, not surprising that some people would abandon the political process so quickly. We live in a society that is addicted to instant gratification.
We should remember, though, that this is not what built this country. It was built on hard work, perseverance, and people fighting for what they believed in. Some of these people continued to fight, even though they knew that change would not take place in their own lifetimes. They fought for those who would come after them.
We have made mistakes in this country, and we will make mistakes in the future. But if we look back at what we have accomplished in our relatively brief history, we will see that we have got a lot of things right, too.
Sometimes, it may have taken longer than it should have. Sometimes, we strayed instead of moving straight ahead. But most of the time, we have found the right path in the end.
We can’t give up our principles just because change is delayed or difficult. These are the times when we must roll up our sleeves and work even harder.
We might disagree with the current parties or candidates, but the system is still a pretty good one, especially if we consider the alternatives.
My third, and final observation is that we should all go out and vote. One tries to avoid telling people what to do, regardless of the provocation, but this is a subject that is too important to ignore.
I hear people talk about how the country is going to rack and ruin (among more colorful expressions), and how politicians are ruining our country (which some seem bent on doing), but when people become so apathetic that they can’t be bothered to take a few minutes every couple of years to vote, it seems that apathy, not action, is more likely to ruin our country.
We may not like the choices. We may be sick of thinking about it. We may be casting our votes for the lesser of the evils, rather than for a candidate we believe in, but it is still our right and our responsibility to vote.
I still remember the first year I was old enough to vote. It was decades ago, and far away, but I still remember walking to my local school and casting my ballot. I remember the pride I felt because I was finally able to be part of the process.
I am older now. I am jaded and cynical, and I see flaws in the system that I did not notice in the innocence of my youth.
And yet, today, I still feel the same pride of participation each time I vote, because despite the flaws, I still believe in the process and in this country.
I am frustrated each time our elected representatives let us down (I am frustrated frequently), and the months of election propaganda and the obscene amount of money spent by those who try to buy elections drives me crazy (I can’t help thinking of all the things that could be accomplished if this money was spent for a positive purpose), but I am not ready to give up yet.