Today is finally Election Day here in the United States. We’ve all been waiting for it since campaigning heavily started a year and a half ago. We’ve all read about it. We’ve all talked about it. We’re at a fever pitch, and today the decision gets made.
This election has stood out because it has been heavily filled with negativity on all sides in a way that has truly been incomparable with past elections. I knew today was my day to write, and how could I avoid this topic? We try to keep things fairly non-political here at Canvas & Table, but to write about something else today seemed to simply be avoiding the topic. A good portion of our readership isn’t even in the U.S., so how could I share something that would be valid for all?
I thought about it. You see, I’ve lived outside of the U.S., in a very different culture in which a coup d’état is a real concern, and witnessed what it is like to live under leadership very different than that of the USA. My husband is from the other side of the world and grew up with some very large differences from the way things operate here in the U.S. I have family around the world, and I’ve been in the United Kingdom on their election day before & witnessed some of the differences even between us and other first-world countries. So, today, I’m going to remind us all of the things we have to celebrate today, no matter where we stand. As Americans- or as people supporting America from afar- we have a lot to be thankful for and to celebrate on a day like today, no matter who wins.
- We have the right to vote- and the right to choose not to vote. Unlike countries in which there is no democratic process, we choose our leaders. We take part in the primaries and caucuses and have the honor of choosing our candidates. Regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, and opinions, we have the right to cast our vote and let our voice be heard- or choose not to.
- We have the freedom to (loudly) protest. Recently I witnessed someone a family member cares about stand up for change in his country, only to be accused of treason. We can use our words across social media without fear of being jailed or executed.
- We enjoy term limits and a change of guard throughout our lifetimes. As someone in her mid-twenties, I will be able to say that I have sat under five different presidents come this January. I have witnessed the rise and fall of politicians and seen people fade from the political scene (Bob Dole and Al Gore, anyone?), unlike people who live their entires lives under the regime of one man.
- We have the right to run for office ourselves. If we deeply desire change, we can take action and run for government offices ourselves. While some limits do apply to the presidency (age and citizenship), this freedom to run extends to all, unlike countries which feign democracy and have just one name of the ballot.
- We can vote as we choose without fear. Unlike days past when some groups of people had need to fear for their lives in some areas, should they choose to try to vote, we enjoy a country in which every man and woman eligible to vote can freely walk into a polling place, or even vote by absentee, without fear of someone oppressing their right to choose.
- We have the honor of shaping the future of our nation. Many citizens in countries all over the world have no say in what goes on in their country. Yet we get to not only choose our presidents, senators, and representatives, we also have the right to lobby and campaign for legislature inside and outside of elections.
- We are a diverse community. Just listening to some of the issues that have been raised this election season serves to remind us that we have achieved one of the basic desires the founding fathers had for this country- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the ability to hold beliefs different than those of the government without fear of death. As a country of immigrants with beliefs and views as diverse as the people inhabiting it, we are blessed to not all be the same.
- We have the blessing of American heritage. With so much negativity that floats around at election time, taking one trip to a country ruled by dictators will remind you of the incredible freedoms we have as citizens of this country- and whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or other, you’ll run into other Americans around the world and feel a camaraderie with them because you share the same basic values and love for freedom.
As we wrap up this election season, be thankful for these things. Hug your neighbor, say hello to that friend you deeply disagree with on politics, thank God for the freedom to worship anywhere you please, and remember that things we take for granted – like the ability to start our own businesses and post our opinions on Facebook – aren’t held by a lot of other people. No matter what happens, God is still on the throne and we have a lot to be thankful for.