2016. The most contentious election in US history? There is a debate about that. Certainly the commentators are talking about this past week's election being the most contentious in this century.
The election of 1800 was pretty contentious. It was the race between Thomas Jefferson and incumbent John Adams; Democratic-Republican party versus the Federalists; states governance versus centralized government. Part of the election landscape was the discussion of the Alien-Sedition Acts, 4 bills signed into law by President Adams: "They made it harder for an immigrant to become a citizen (Naturalization Act), allowed the president to imprison and deport non-citizens who were deemed dangerous (Alien Friends Act) or who were from a hostile nation (Alien Enemies Act), and criminalized making false statements that were critical of the federal government (Sedition Act)." (As an aside, hate to admit it, this was the easiest explanation which came from Wikipedia.)
Similar rhetoric then to what we are saying now. However, after all was said and done during that election, President Jefferson's inaugural speech captured what we need to remember, "every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans: we are all federalists." Click here to read the 1st inaugural address in its entirety.
In that spirit, I pray that the next couple of months will be a smooth transition and that we can remember that we are all Americans.
On election day I once again volunteered to be an election judge. It was quite a long and busy day but the thing that struck me was the peaceful voting. Certainly there were people who were quite passionate about their decision (as indicated by their political buttons or comments to us who were working the polls) but there were no arguments or disruptions.
Since there was a large voter turnout, the lines were quite long and at certain times of the day, people had to wait hours to vote. They did so patiently. One upshot of the long lines was that many people talked to the surrounding people in line. As they would break off the line to scan their ballet, I heard over and over again, "Nice meeting you and chatting." How great is that- differing opinions but community building.
Again, my prayer is that now that this is election season is over (phew, finally!), we can move on in building community with all people.
My nephew has some interesting thoughts about voting. I think he is right. Whatever happens (happened) in the election and for the future, we need not be afraid. We can be full of hope. God is in control. Click here to read his blog.
What about you? How was your voting experience? What did you notice? Did you have any heated moments with family and friends over the candidates? Is there any bridge building you can do? What can we do to make our political process better?
As we think about Veterans Day, what better way to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make than to live as we claim: we are all Americans.