So I must admit, I’m a little bit scared about tomorrow.
Its election day at last (cue the trumpets and confetti: no more political ads!! Huzzah!). We will finally have a chance to cast our votes and choose the next President of these barely United States.
Of course, I’ve been through this whole thing more than a few times now. The first time I voted, it was for Jimmy Carter. I’ve seen the swings from left to right and back again.
This time, though, its making me feel more than a little nervous.
This time, the country seems to be absolutely divided between the two choices. Each of the main candidates is polling at just barely under 50%. We are caught in a perfect tug o’ war between the reds and the blues.
And this time, the level of anger, bitterness and hatred between the two camps seems to me to be sharper than I remember from the past. The language is more vitriolic and less measured. People seem to really, truly hate those who disagree with them.
Now, bear in mind, I was totally caught up in the election of 2002, when my candidate won the popular vote, but lost the election. That was upsetting, for damn sure, but I don’t remember feeling the same level of frustration that I sense out there now.
I’m a little scared about what is to come in the next few weeks or months. There is a sense of danger in the air, made worse by super storms and unexpected infrastructure collapses. There is a sense of powerlessness and rage that briefly found its voice in popular movements like the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. There is a power and a restless energy that is simmering just below the surface of our everyday lives, and it has been fed and nurtured by the countless months of attack ads from both sides.
We feel assaulted and endangered. We fear for our children and our futures and our freedoms. We are not sure just who is to blame, so we latch onto the rhetoric spewed forth by our leaders, and we turn on each other and we believe in the names being called and the lies being told.
We are ready to vote, and we are ready to be outraged by the outcome of that voting.
If we continue to hold onto our personal grudges and our intensely partisan fighting, I fear that our union may not hold. I fear that we will turn on each other and come to violence.
I can only hope that after all of the votes are finally counted, we can reach deep inside of ourselves and act like children.
Children know how to be inclusive. They know how to recognize unfairness when they see it. They see “mean” for what it is, and they know enough to reject it. Children seek honesty and they seek a way to be “nice” even when they are mad.
So tonight, on this last night before the election of 2012, when voices are screaming for the downfall of the black Muslim socialist, and voices are screaming for the end of the rich white Mormon, I am hoping and praying that a majority of us will find a way to see this all for exactly what it is: just one more election in a long string of elections. It won’t save us, and it won’t ruin us. It’s just another election. In barely two years time, we’ll be on our way to another one.
Please, my fellow citizens, please try to act like children when the results come in tomorrow night. You might be happy, but please don’t gloat. You might be upset, but please don’t turn on your neighbors.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln