This is the day when every American has a voice. Each person gets to add to our national discussion. Each person is on an equal playing field in this one area of our complicated society. It doesn’t matter if you are a waitress or a truck driver, a banker or a farmer, a senator or a welfare recipient. It doesn’t matter if you live in a McMansion or a yurt or if you are single or married or divorced 3 times or if you are an 18 year old or an 80 year old. On this day, each citizen in our nation gets a voice in the form of their vote. And my voice matters as much as my neighbor’s or my congressman’s or my president’s.
On this day, we get a chance to participate in our nation’s (and therefore, the world’s) collective history. We get to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Look, I could rant for days about the problems with our country and with the issues with the voting process itself. America is not right now the best version of itself. But today is not the day for long rants and discussions about all the things that are wrong. Instead, today millions of people will have a moment where they submit their ballot. And at that moment, everything that is amazing and good about our country is present.
Some people will complain about the process itself – about standing in line, about voting machines, about what’s fair and what’s not. And those complaints are valid. But those complaints are only available to us because of the democratic process itself and because we get the chance to participate. And that chance is the great equalizer in our country. Nearly half of us will be disappointed, devastated, and angered by the results this year. But each of us will have had the chance to let our voices be heard.
Election Day to me is a day of generic patriotic pride. It’s a day to be thankful for our nation with all its warts and flaws and room for improvement. All over our country today people are getting ready to vote or are already standing in line to vote. And some of their fellow citizens have taken a day out of their lives to fill our polling centers, from the smallest rural townships to the largest cities, and ensure every vote gets counted, to safeguard our democracy. People without power and heat are standing and waiting for their chance to cast their vote. People who have sick loved ones, people who have family members and loved ones serving in our military, people who don’t care a bit about politics except for today are going to vote. People without 2 dollars to rub together until Friday payday are taking time off to stand in line and let their voices be heard.
And that? That is what stirs us, what provides the inspiration to keep trying with this experiment of representation by the people. It has never been perfect. It has been closer to perfect than now, to be sure. The entire history of our nation is filled with mistakes, outrages, imperfections, and disenfranchisement. But always we have inched forward. Always we have had the chance to improve our nation. That is the power, the promise, and the potential of our democracy.