GratiTuesday: T.G.I.F.

Thank God it’s Finished!

election

This long slog of an election cycle has been going on since November 2014, when Jim Webb, former US Senator from Virginia, was the first candidate to form an exploratory committee for a possible run for president. On March 5, 2015, Mark Everson, a former Commissioner of Internal Revenue, formally announced his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party (remember him?).

I have no idea why the presidential election cycle in the United States is so long and drawn out, but other, seemingly more reasonable countries, appear to have a much better handle on things. For instance, on Aug. 2, 2015, Canada dissolved its Parliament, clearing the way for new elections in October OF THE SAME YEAR. The campaign — all 78 days of it — was an unusually long one for the country.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling completely beaten up and played out. The presidential race was unusually rancorous and mean – even for the US, and we’ve had some pretty nasty campaigns in our history. Even before the two major party’s candidates were chosen, verbal venom, bullying remarks, and vailed innuendos were traded among candidates from the same party.

Worse – because political candidates are, sadly, expected to act like 6-year-olds – was the ugliness among partisans and found on social media. Insults were thrown around without regard for their targets, friends were attacked and unfriended, and falsehoods were passed off as truths.

Tonight, one of the candidates will prevail. I did not use the word “win” because I don’t believe there will be a true winner this year. The person who gets the most Electoral College votes can start making plans to occupy the White House. The person who doesn’t get the required votes will need to decide what his or her next steps will be.

I very much hope that my candidate will succeed and I will be very apprehensive if the other candidate prevails. But, either way, I am concerned most for our country. The wounds that we’ve suffered won’t heal easily and the ugliness that we’ve witnessed won’t soon be forgotten. I’m afraid that they will continue long into the future and, if they do, they could threaten to split us at our core.

I am grateful that this election is over, but – either way the vote goes – I am worried about the results.

GratiTuesday: The right to vote

As circus-like as this U.S. election cycle has been – and it promises to get even crazier as we head into the general election – my right to vote isn’t something I take lightly. I remember going to the polls with my mother and having her tell me what a privilege it was to be a citizen and be able to cast her ballot. Even at that very young age, I looked forward to the time when I would be old enough to do the same.

Vote

I come from a fairly politically-active family. My mother was a member of the League of Women Voters and politics was often a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Even before I could vote, I volunteered for political campaigns. One of my favorite memories was walking a precinct with the actor Jon Voight (who, I understand has since turned more conservative) in support of George McGovern. The look on people’s faces as they answered their door was pretty funny—even those who didn’t support Senator McGovern stuck around to listen to our spiel.

I have voted in every election ever since I was old enough to cast a ballot. Although once or twice I mailed in my ballot, unless I’m out of town on Election Day I prefer to physically go to the polls. There is something about standing in line with my neighbors and performing this very American ritual that makes me feel that I’m a part of a greater whole. Although many election results don’t turn out the way I’d like them to, I take pride in knowing that I took the time and my vote was counted.

California, with its rich pool of delegates, is one of the last states to vote in the primaries. At one point, we thought that we’d actually have a voice in the selection of the presidential nominees but, once again, it appears that it is a forgone conclusion for both parties. Regardless, I have cast my ballot and will watch the results as they come in this evening. Even if my vote won’t influence the outcome of the presidential primary race, there are plenty of local and state offices and ballot measures that need to be decided.

Today, the first Tuesday of June, I am so grateful that I can freely cast my ballot and that my parents instilled in me the importance of being involved and having my voice heard. I am also grateful that tomorrow I will no longer be the recipient of political robo-calls on my phone and that my mailbox won’t be stuffed with oversized, glossy campaign advertising.