A friend asked me this fall why I am so excited about Election Day. After all, many campaigns have insulted the nation’s intelligence for months, and the Democrats are going to have a very rough outcome. So why the excitement?
I answered because elections matter.
The process matters.
Besides, it is an important tradition.
I refuse to let those who tried to dumb-down the debate, or undermine and belittle the election process to rob me of this historic moment.
Much like a storm chaser in Kansas does not want to see the barn destroyed by a tornado, yet wants to see the funnel cloud make contact with the ground, so do I like to see elections play out against the great canvas of the American electorate. What is about to occur, for better or worse, is another chapter in our national story, and we get to experience it. Living the moment means feeling both the bad and the good. Tonight will be proof of that.
It has been almost 30 years to the day that I cast my first ballot. Though President Carter lost that year (Nov. 4th) despite my support, the memory of going with my dad to the polls in Hancock, Wisconsin after he got off work will always be treasured. One of his fellow workers, Leslie Wetmore, gave me the thumbs up for casting a ballot. They came from a generation of proud service in World War II, and liked to see young people fulfilling their civic responsibility.
Then it was home where mom had dinner waiting, and a night of television coverage of the election. It was a rough election outcome for me. I recall before going to bed that night mom saying as she stood in the doorway to my room that perhaps everything would work out with Ronald Reagan as the new president. She knew I was upset, and tried to see the positive. The classic mom.
Now at the age of 48 Election Day still has a certain pace. I walk to my polling place, and folks from the neighborhood will be out and about doing the same thing as I am. The election officials will banter about this or that and pleasantries will be made. Everybody seems to know each other at the polls. When all the bombast and outrage has been removed from the airwaves it comes down to the simple act of voting with friends and neighbors. It is after all, an American moment.
I walk to a booth and before voting always say a short prayer of thanks for the land we live in, and the freedoms we have. It may sound corny, but its true. Then I mark the ballot.
As odd as it may sound to some every election year since James and I met over a decade ago he makes sure our home has political themed bunting, and other items up to reflect the national moment. This year he sewed red and blue cloth into banners that now hold my political button collection that will be on display for the evening. A small group of friends will drop by to watch the returns come in from around the nation.
Since every election night lands in the cool weather of November we serve some type of hearty food to be enjoyed around the television. This year a harvest dinner with lots of veggies and meat will cook in a large roaster and be ready when folks arrive. Desserts on election night will make the sugar high last all the way until Alaska starts to count the ballots. Should it be any other way?
I love the epic event quality when the all-news stations report this story. Even local stations will ramp up the coverage, and the way they report the outcomes. News teams will have assembled the latest computer graphics aimed at dazzling us with the results. (Hello CNN!) After all, what could be better than to see Christine O’Donnell defeated with some snazzy new graphic?
So while some have sullied the election with antics, slurs, outbursts, and absurd amounts of money no one is going to deny me the pleasure of reveling in an American moment. While some candidates this campaign season have talked of the American ideals, I actually feel them and live them.
After all, Election Day is important. It is a grand tradition.
It is for me.
Hopefully, for you too.