- We will either have the first African-American as Commander in Chief, or the oldest ever President and the first woman in an Executive office.
- We will see record voter turn out all over the US (California, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Louisiana, Minnesota and more…)
- We’ve been on the election trail for nearly two years… the longest and costliest campaign in US history.
- The next President follows Bush’s historically low approval ratings and many difficult challenges.
But what happens after tomorrow?
Well tomorrow we are going to have a new President. Like him, or not, we are all still Americans and if there is anything this election can teach us, it’s that we all care deeply for our country. So the question of America’s greatness will not be measured by how voraciously we campaigned for “our” President, but how openly we embrace our future and one another.
Let’s not forget that all of the good people we are about to put in office across this land are there to represent each and every one of us. The political process is not something we should merely dust out once every four years. It’s something that requires an ongoing open and honest dialog with our state and federal representatives – and with one another.
Mark my words, within a week the emotional coffers of the campaign will be drained. But you and I will be the same. What then, my friends?
Today at work I heard one employee encouraging another to vote by using the argument, “If you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain for the next four years.” But is that really the end of the story? I don’t think so…
I would submit that free and democratic governance is a process that allows us to actively contribute on a daily basis. I know that I have done my part, and I would suggest the following ways that you can participate as well:
- Attend a city council meeting. Learn what issues are facing your local community. Don’t be afraid to stand up and share your opinion (but please do some research first).
- Volunteer for a committee. You’d be surprised at how many your city has that you could participate in. You and your fellow citizens will have direct control over local governance.
- Set an appointment to speak with your local state or federal representative. If you have two to three topics you’d like to address, take some notes and share your opinion and rationale. Don’t spend more than 5 minutes on any subject, and make sure you’ve got sound bites he/she can remember when the topic comes up.
- Write your senators and Governors and regularly express your opinion. They actually read these things – or at least have staff that do in order to keep track of trends and areas of concern.
I’d like to finish this editorial with a little story, if you don’t mind.
In 2006 I was honored to be asked to serve on the Citizen’s Bond Committee for the city of Frisco, TX. The committee was made up of 21 residents, and we were asked to evaluate the infrastructure requirements for Frisco for the next three to four years in order to send a recommendation to the City Council which would ultimately end up on an election ballot for the citizens at large to vote on.
During the months we spent deliberating and debating I witnessed a lot of fierce disagreement. I also remember arguing my points, and listening to other points of view presented. During that time I changed my mind on various projects, and I witnessed others change their minds as well. The people in that room were neither Democrats or Republicans. They were just concerned citizens.
In the end no one was 100% satisfied, but we managed to put forth a unanimous recommendation to the Council nonetheless. That recommendation was accepted without modification, and later every line item was overwhelmingly approved by the citizens.
There are a few morals to the story:
- If you volunteer to serve, you absolutely have a shot at making a real difference.
- People can and will change their minds over time. This is not a weakness, but a strength of being human.
- In the end, it is possible to bring both sides together on most issues. And it’s always worth at least giving it a try.
So when it’s all over and done with are you going to go back to your old routine, or are you going to continue to take action?