I purposely wrote today’s editorial early Tuesday morning, before any results, acceptance speeches or other Election Night events could influence my thoughts. I wrote this with my community in mind, however far that reaches…
I’m writing this Tuesday morning, well before the final votes will be tallied and, quite possibly, contested by one side or the other in the days and weeks ahead.
As much as I’d like to believe Tuesday night will close the final chapter in a political season that
has played out more like a work of fiction than reality, my gut tells me there is already a sequel in the works to this poorly written chapter in American political history.
Yet, as I slipped my ballot into the drop box this morning, I thought of the poem “Election Day, November 1884” by Walt Whitman. In it, he eloquently expresses the simple but important notion that the act of voting is, in itself, more powerful than any individual elected within our Democracy.
The still small voice vibrating — America’s choosing day, the heart of it
not in the chosen, (but) the act itself the main — the quadriennial
In this era of social media coverage, on-demand soundbites and the constant barrage of political ads, posts and Tweets, it’s easy to forget the fundamental value our vote represents — and that the sum total of our Democracy is larger than any one individual.
I have faith in our system of checks and balances, the Constitution, our
Bill of Rights and, most importantly, my fellow Americans’ right to choose a president.
Over the years, I’ve had my candidates win and I¹ve had them lose — some during the final elections and others well before. However, regardless of who was sworn in, I felt humbled being part of a process that began as notions and fervent scribbling by our forefathers nearly 250 years ago.
It was a system created to give a voice to its people. And while it
certainly isn’t perfect, even that is a reflection of our nation and its
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I don’t particularly care for either presidential candidate, neither of whom I honestly feel represents the best of the American people, their values or ideals. For me, filling out my ballot was like chosing between the the last two kids
waiting to be picked for the kickball team; one can kick and the other can catch, but I know whoever I choose is going to cost me some runs.
However, like kickball, our system of Democracy is based on the principle that we aren’t defined by one individual but by the voice ‹ and choice — of many.
By the time you read this, that choice will have been made. And regardless of who is sworn in on January 20th, I will support that choice — not as a Democrat, Republican or Independent.
I will support it as a fellow American who believes that the heart of Democracy doesn’t rest within the chosen, but within the hearts of those who do the choosing.
Following a political season that has, by design from both sides, steadily and deeply divided us all, I hope you’ll join me in moving forward as a people united by the belief in — and our respect for — the voice we share as Americans…
Election Day, November 1884
By Walt Whitman
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
It would not be you, Niagara; nor you, ye limitless prairies;
Nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado;
Nor you, Yosemite; nor Yellowstone, with all its geyser-loops ascending to the skies;
Nor Oregon’s white cones; nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes; nor Mississippi’s stream:
This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name — the
still small voice vibrating — America’s choosing day, (The heart of it not in the chosen — the act itself the main, the
The final ballot-shower from East to West — the paradox and con-
flict, the countless snow-flakes falling — (a swordless conflict, yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:)
the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity — welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
— foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify — while the
heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails…
Ned Hickson is a nationally syndicated humor columnist with News Media Corporation and the editor of Siuslaw News. He is also the author of Humor at the Speed of Life, a collection of more than a decade of humor columns; and Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist, a writer’s survival guide. Both are available from Port Hole Publishing.