I’ve lived on this earth for six decades and voted since I was 21. I was brought up in a household where the American right to vote was treasured and taken very seriously. As proud and grateful citizens of this country, my immigrant grandparents from Croatia understood the privilege of living in a democracy and instilled the responsibilities that go along with that privilege into their children and grandchildren. My father and several uncles served across the globe during WW II, defending our freedoms and preserving our rights. Therefore, failure to exercise my right to vote was the secular equivalent of a mortal sin.
Over the decades, there were times when I haven’t agreed on all issues with a candidate, but I could find important common ground with them and confidently vote for them. I have experienced the disappointment of seeing my favorite candidate defeated on occasion, but I accepted the democratic process and the authority of the constitution and moved on with life. And, through it all, though disappointed and concerned, I knew I would survive and so would the nation … UNTIL NOW … this election has been a deeply disturbing challenge from Day One and I am very concerned about where the outcome will lead us.
I was brought up to have respect for others … to treat them with kindness and equality … to share. Calling people names and making fun of others, especially those with physical or mental challenges, was never tolerated in my house. These principles were further reinforced repeatedly from the pulpit in sermons praising God’s number one rule to love our neighbors as ourselves. Disrespect was unacceptable and hatred was never an option … both were serious sins that put eternal salvation at risk.
It was our inability to understand and/or to accept this kind of despicable behavior emanating from the election scene over the last two years that made this election day such a turnoff for so many of us. The circus debates, much too expensive commercials and over-hyped, 24/7 political pundit news coverage slapped us in the face with one, non-stop barrage of nastiness to the highest degree. Eventually, arising out of this quagmire of muck, two main candidates became our choices to lead this country and both disappointed us in so many ways.
And, the muck just kept coming. Everybody shouted and nobody answered questions and important issues did not get discussed on either side. Scandals, or hints of them, were a prime time dream for a media ruled by ratings and fixed on feeding an audience with an insatiable appetite for sensationalism. More and more people grew weary of the circus and seriously contemplated opting out of voting this time around. Others sorted through the mess and latched on to a glimmer of hope in one candidate or the other who reflected the voter’s most serious concerns or principles, while turning a blind eye to the candidate’s many other serious flaws.
Personally, I rode a roller coaster, wavering between these two groups of voters. Like a game of hopscotch, I jumped around the maze among not voting, voting for Hillary Clinton, voting third party, writing in a candidate that was truly more in line with my overall principals and concerns. Mr. Trump was never an option because he presented, in my opinion, the most dangerous, hate-filled campaign. I could not vote for hatred.
In the end, I decided to vote, choosing one of the alternative options to Mr. Trump. I voted my conscience … I voted against hatred. Post-election, I have ridden a whole new roller coaster of emotions and it has taken me several days to sort through it all and write this post.
Now, I pray with a fervency I never have before that our country survives … that my fears of a Trump presidency are unfounded, or, at minimum, not as severe as I expect. But, more than anything, I pray for an end to the divisiveness that permeates our country that no current candidate could heal, or even begin to temper. WE, as individuals, need to accept the responsibility to promote the healing process and it starts with respecting one another. We need to stop the shouting and LISTEN to each other. We need to throw off the binds of self-centeredness and try to imagine what it is like to walk in the other person’s shoes. We need to hurl respect, kindness and love, rather than anger or hatred. We need to love our neighbors as ourselves.