Election day reflections

Right now, I’m sitting at my house making breakfast before I run to the polls before my first class of the day. This is the first election I get to vote in (I’m 19), and I’m super excited. By anybody’s count, it’s a close race, and I’m already anticipating several recounts before we actually know who’s going to be head of the United States government for the next four years.

It’s going to be really interesting, but what I’m not looking forward to is all the doomsday predictions that are going to follow. You know what I mean. Everyone who’s going to “leave the country” if such-and-so a candidate wins. The predictions that the country will fall apart if this candidate wins and can only be saved by that candidate. The bemoaning of “What has happened to this country?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying the importance of this election or of the office of president in general. The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, in all reality. It’s important to be informed and vote for what’s important to you. Who the president is absolutely makes a difference, and our population should take that seriously.

But think about it for a second. I’m a 19-year-old girl who’s going to go vote. In how much of the world is it not only allowed, but accepted and encouraged, for someone like me to vote? Even barring that, just safe? I think sometimes we forget how blessed we are in this country to have that right, and to have that right supported and enforced, to not be afraid for our lives when we go cast a ballot.

But I just want to remind us all that the total sum of our identity as Americans and of our identity as this country is not embodied solely in our leader—that’s one thing that makes this country great. Because you know what? We’ve survived every president up to this point. Whoever the next president is, we’ll survive. Things may happen that we don’t like or don’t agree with. Our progress may not always be forward. But we’ll survive.

Of course we have problems. That’s what people do. We have problems, we fight about them, and we ultimately come to some sort of change because of them. And the fact that we live in a country where it’s safe and okay to bellyache about the government and complain about our president is kind of incredible.

And another thing? The president is a person. A person with such a difficult job that he tends to come out of a term looking about a decade older than he went in. He has to juggle ridiculous amounts of variables, conflicting opinions and ideas, and pieces of intelligence to come to decisions that will impact the whole world. So, no matter who you support and no matter who wins, no matter how much you disagree with the person who holds the title, let’s give the person a little bit of respect.

So, that’s my rant. Go be informed and vote. Be grateful that you have the right, and take advantage of it. Not everyone is so blessed. And remember that the president, though important and powerful, is not the end-all be-all of this country. Its people are.

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