Election Day: the most important day on the American calendar.
On this day, Americans define America for Americans, and Democracy—the greatest arbiter, balance and weapon the world has ever known—takes its rightful place as the King of Ideas and Ideals.
In the small Maine town where I live, we still rely on paper and pen.
I love the antiquity of the paper ballot, the extra effort it takes to perfectly fill in the dots next to the candidates and issues of choice, the sense of timelessness that comes from walking into a curtained booth with a tangible piece of evidence of my participation in Democracy.
I love the thought that in our small grade-school gymnasium, somebody voted here in 2004, in 1994, in 1974… I love the continuity that ties us all into the process and into the outcomes of the history of this great nation.
I love the ballot. The ballot is war and peace. The ballot is right and privilege. The ballot allows one the right to vote according to nothing but selflessness, or to vote according to nothing but self-interest, and either way millions of our fellow citizens are affected for the good as we see it.
The ballot is my voice: the voice of my heart, soul and conscience.
I believe in issues and solutions, and while I vote today, I also feel that I vote every day of my life with my wallet and my shoe soles. And no matter if it’s by paper ballot, voting machine or choosing one retail outlet over another, every day I vote my conscience.
I am an Independent mind. I’m a registered Green Independent, with no party affiliation. I am not a conservative or a liberal: I believe in ideas, not ideology. I am greatly bothered by the tone in the country: the rancor and derision and the insinuations, overt and otherwise that the other guy is at best less American and at worst mentally unbalanced if they disagree with you.
I hold hope for the center in politics, just as I try to ride the center in all aspects of my life. Balance is good.
I cast a ballot today so that I can look in the eyes of my friends, some of whom happen to be gay, and say that I think you deserve the most basic fundamental human rights. I cast a ballot today so that I can say that I want a government that does not see anyone as a second-class citizen, as less than me, based on the content of their heart and soul.
I cast a ballot today so that I can look in the eyes of seniors and the sick and say that I think everybody in the world deserves the dignity of having healthcare and the freedom to make their own decisions about their own bodies, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I cast a ballot today because I believe every soul deserves kindness, compassion and empathy.
I cast a ballot today so that I can look in the eyes of women and say that I believe that your bodies are your own, and that healthcare decisions regarding your bodies should be between you, your doctor and nobody else.
I cast a ballot today so that I can look in the eyes of high school kids and say that I voted to give you a shot at the future through Pell Grants and investment in training and the high-tech jobs of the future.
I cast a ballot today so that I can look in the eyes of those affected by natural disaster and say that I will help you rebuild and recover, because some jobs are too big to privatize.
And I cast a ballot today so that I can look myself in the eyes and know that I stood up for the issues and people that I care about.
Our system of democracy is far from perfect, and I remain highly bothered by the tone of discourse. But the ballot I cast today gives me a voice in shaping the vision of the kind of country I believe in.
You can disagree with me all you want, and you would be right. And that’s what makes Democracy the King of Ideas and Ideals. I hope you all voted your Conscience today.
I hope you all voted for the America you believe in.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Brian Westbye
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Mr. TinDC/Flickr