12 days ‘til (all I want for) Election Day!

Our American commercial economic machine has turned its attention to Christmas. Store aisles are lined with toys for tots and decorative baubles, bangles, and beads to festoon the soon to appear evergreen trees (which, I imagine, if they could feel, would be chomping at the bit to get those Halloween candy displays and pumpkin patches out of their way!).

However, for me, Christmas can wait. Another über-significant day fast approaches. Election Day. As I am not one of thousands of Americans in various states who have cast their ballots in early voting, Tuesday, November 8, is my opportunity “to exercise my political franchise.”

One of the grandest learnings my family taught me was the value, indeed, the virtue of voting. My parents, Bill and Lolita Abernathy, my grandmother, Audia Roberts, and my aunt, Evelyn Roberts, considered the casting of a ballot, yes, a long-fought, hard-won political right, especially for black people, but also, through history’s illumination of those who died to make it possible, an elemental act of American citizenship imbued with the spiritual quality of an active, living legacy. Voting wasn’t an option, but rather an essential act of individual responsibility of communal consequence.

As I consider the principal candidates at “the top of the ballot”, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I face a dilemma of mind, I feel a dis-ease of soul…

All I want for Election Day (I confess it’s a lot!) is to vote for a candidate who I believe is committed to:

  1. The vocation (yes, from the Latin vocare, “to call”, thus a political-spiritual calling) of public service.
  2. The vigorous and virtuous pursuit of collective societal interests, indeed, the common national and international good (meaning, for me, believing and treasuring the dignity and equality of all people); necessitating the practical recognition and prudent restriction of the influence of singular special interests and wedge issues (whether of race, class, religion, and region) and, as importantly, personal self-aggrandizement.
  3. The viewpoint of “both-and”, not “either-or”, even more, a worldview that believes in the reality and knows the language of ambiguity, eschewing notions of absolute certainty, thus, being able to entertain a contrary opinion, indeed, person as not innately duplicitous, erroneous, injudicious, or malicious (read: dishonest, wrong, stupid, or evil).

As I reflect on the public histories of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump and particularly the less than bighearted, high-minded tenor of the current presidential campaign, each, in her and his own way, fall short of what, who I want. Thus, come November 8, I will vote, but not with liberty of mind or lightness of soul.

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4 thoughts on “12 days ‘til (all I want for) Election Day!

  1. Amen, Paul. I cast my vote this week, and never have I done so with more thought for what I was saying as I marked my ballot for every race. I think my ballot, in addition to speaking my choices, bespoke a prayer for each candidate I voted for and for all of us who may live under the leadership of that candidate. I have become so aware in this bruising season of the push and pull of forces in a political candidate’s psyche that even enables her or him to be on the ballot. It takes a frightening amount of ego health to put oneself forward as a political candidate. But I am also convinced that in order to succeed in office, a candidate must be capable of and comfortable with genuine humility as well, to understand, as you suggest in your point 3, the ambiguities, uncertainties and even blind spots involved in most, if not all, decisions that person will have to make. To lack the ego strength and confidence in one’s ability to do the job, to make the hard choices, dooms an office-seeker as weak and ineffectual. Likewise, the absence of true humility to recognize one’s own naturally incomplete insight, knowledge, wisdom, and equanimity in many situations calling for a tough, just decision relegates the office-holder to relying only on her/his own hubris, the most certain recipe for disaster.

    I do pray for everyone for whom I voted this week, that somehow each will be able to validate the choice I either happily, or not so happily, made when I marked my ballot – that each will be strong and confident but wise enough to know when humility – listening, meditating, learning, taking stock, perhaps prayer in some form, even (God forbid!) compromise – is called for as a decision is faced. I suppose I actually must pray the same prayer for those for whom I did not vote as well, since there is no guarantee my choices will prevail.

    I wish you well as you consider your vote on November 8. I’m thinking that most of us voters in this election share your very unsettled feelings about the alternatives we have to choose from.

    Love,

    Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, I honor, indeed, love your praying for those for whom you did not vote given there is no guarantee that your choices of candidates for whom you voted will prevail. (Though I believe, given my sense of your compassion, that you, with a guarantee in hand, would pray for those for whom you did not vote.) For your care in this bespeaks the humility of which you also speak, which, in my view, has been despairingly absent in the public square during this electoral cycle.

      I also wish that the ego-strength of which you speak so eloquently were a prevailing characteristic, indeed, element of character of all candidates. I fear that, yes, ego-strength is in evidence in many candidates, yet it is hardly (barely!) of the positive sort.

      In peace and solidarity with you, my dearest sister, I pray for November 9 for us all, come what may.

      Love,
      Paul

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  2. Thank you Paul,

    This is one of the most incredible elections in the history of our country!!!! Our choices aren’t for someone we’d necessarily be proud of or who most of us would have chosen to run. We should have more choices but of course that’s not how our process works.

    I’ve always loved voting too!! I excitedly would walk to the Catholic Church up the street and cast my vote – feeling proud. This year my feeling is just that I’m doing my civic duty to vote. No more, no less. So sad!!! We need to do better in the future so that we won’t have choices on Election Day that give us pause!! Lord help us!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lord, help us, indeed.

    Your sense of voting as civic duty succinctly and pointedly captures my mood! Your expression of sadness speaks to and for me, too.

    One of the things I’ve been asking myself – especially as one who tends to look through the lens of history as a way of understanding present day events, etc. – is how did we, America, arrive at this place with our two major political parties nominating two candidates with substantial unfavorable ratings, which find root in their individual unsavory past records? And how did we come to this state of being as a nation with a presidential campaign that is messy, even nasty? I want to do some more thinking about this, for one way to do better in the future is not to repeat the past. On November 9, this campaign will be past and it’ll be time, as you often say about many things when sober, deliberate thought it required, “let’s review!”

    Liked by 1 person

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