It is election day. The political advertisements on television will end tonight. In a few hours, half of those whose names are on the ballot will be elated and the other half will be sad. The various state and local issues will be decided. And, in a week or so, the multitude of political advertisements in our mailboxes will be replaced by holiday shopping catalogues.
John and I voted early; it was an easy and pleasant process. And, his alarm had to go off 4:15 this morning. He has a very busy day working at a polling location on the other side of town.
As I was running errands this morning, I got to thinking about my political involvement. It started when I was in high school when I volunteered to work with the Republican party. My first assignment was to help on election night, recording precinct turnout and results. It was exciting and I was hooked.
In a few years, I was appointed precinct chair for my area and I worked hard to get out the vote (well, at least the vote of those in my party). On election day, I showed up at the polling place early and was back there several times during the day. The rules allowed me to see who had voted and who had not. I would make notes and start my phone calls and offers of rides to voters, well, at least to Republican voters.
Those working at the polls were delightful folk. There was always an odd number of poll workers, representing the two political parties. If there were 5 workers, three represented the party of the current governor and the other two were from the other party. But, the work that they did at the polling location was neutral.
My efforts were partisan – no doubt about it. But, I appreciated and respected all our poll workers. One year, we had a new worker – one from the “other” party. As I arrived at the precinct, fresh pastries in hand, someone explained who I was and why I was there. The new worker looked at my plate of pastries, they smelled wonderful. She said “hello” and then explained that she represented the other party. It was clear that she thought that the delicious treats were not for her. I laughed and shared that my snacks were non-partisan; they were for everyone. She looked surprised, but took a warm muffin and started working. I was back at the polling location several times during the day, each time bringing a new food treat. Fruit at lunch. Chocolate cookies and coffee toward the end of the day.
When I went to work for the federal government, my political activities ceased. But, elections still fascinate me. This year, I am praying about today’s election and tomorrow’s reactions.
An acquaintance from a foreign country shared with me their assessment about America. They commented “Americans can get along with anyone.” And, they gave me examples. We are allies with Japan and Germany even though we were enemies in World War II. We have established a trade alliance with Russia despite our history. Their comment was that we did not have “permanent enemies” like those of North and South Korea or Israel and her neighbors. “Americans can get along with anyone.”
My foreign friend might not have it exactly right; but, it is an interesting assessment.
As we vote today and as we read the results tomorrow, I pray that we will share a plate of muffins and enjoy a chocolate cookie with those who voted differently than we did. I pray that after this election that Americans can get along with Americans… And, that must start with me.
Jill (just one of God’s kids)
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)