I should begin this by saying it is a totally non-partisan post, lest you should be avoiding those! I mailed in my absentee ballot recently. I probably could have sent it weeks ago but it's a lot easier to find out about and determine your preferences for national candidates than things like the school board!
On November 8, those who didn't vote absentee/early or those who are not too frustrated to vote period will head to the polls to make their choice. When all is said and done, a good chunk of us will be pleased, angry or resigned. This feels like the longest, sleaziest and most hostile campaign I can recall -- and I can recall a lot of them.
I think of election day as ending our current "long national nightmare." We don't know the next bad dream, but at least this awful campaign will be over.
Those of you old enough to remember Watergate, Richard Nixon and the swearing in of Gerald Ford after Nixon's resignation might remember this quote from his inaugural address.
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over... Our constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here
the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor
Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but
Digging out the whole of this quote reminded me of Nixon and of a letter all the students in our graduating class at J.W. Sexton High School received in June 1969 from the then-President. It was sent to the school and a copy was made for each of the students by the principal.
Nixon not only congratulated the seniors but acknowledged the differences between the generations and the similarities of our 1969 graduating class and his from 1930.
"Your high school years have been historic ones," he wrote. "When you entered high school man was making his elementary steps into space. In your senior year, three brave Americans journeyed around the moon. When I graduated from high school, only three years had passed since a man flew for the first time across the Atlantic Ocean. Despite the obvious difference in years, we have this in common: we all know what it is to be young at the start of an age of adventure."
There is little difference between what was written here and what I see around me -- young people in high school in college or slightly older starting out their lives as voting citizens, able to make their first choices in a national election. They, too, have seen changes in their lifetimes (and certainly in mine).
Who could imagine we could talk on the phone or text or check the Internet from any place in the world? That those very expensive little pocket calculators (which weren't so pocket-sized) that we bought for our statistics classes at college would one day cost under five dollars -- with more basic versions at the dollar store?
Nixon was between wars, but we had our Vietnam. Now high school kids hear about the Middle East. We had the Civil Rights movement. Today's youth must deal with racism and xenophobia in more ways than I can bear to think of. It breaks my heart that these issues are still at the forefront of our lives.
The long national nightmare that Gerald Ford referred to was Watergate and the Nixon presidency. For me, that national nightmare is the election. I hope that my candidate will win, just as you hope yours will. And I'm probably wishing a wee bit that both the major parties had different choices for us.
But they don't. So I will vote. And I hope you will too, even if you are discouraged. I don't know that I will vote for every candidate on the ballot -- I don't know all of them. But I do know some and for those, I will check my ballot.
I leave you with the words of Richard Nixon. Remember, these were written in 1969, several years before all hell broke out with Watergate. They are ironic but I think they are very true.
"You will discover, as I did, that each person must make his own exploration of the world, make his own discoveries, shape his own triumphs, endure his own tragedies. Each of us is an explorer or himself, of history, of knowledge, of the intricate and beautiful and wonderful varieties of experience."
Triumphs and tragedies. Who knows what we'll see on the morning of November 9? (Or 10, or 11...) But whatever it is, it will take us into the new year. A new year with families we love, a world that is not without its problems but is exquisitely beautiful, diverse and unique. It's up to us to celebrate that world and cherish it every single day.
And remember, Pie Fixes Everything. Or it should.
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