We approach election day on November 6th with a great sense of division in our country. Americans have grown reluctant to discuss policy and governance out of fear of alienating or offending neighbors and friends, or have instead embraced the rhetoric of division and tribalism. For some this translates to a sense of weariness with our national experiment of democracy, or at least the way democracy is embodied in our political system.
Todd County holds one of the lowest voting rates in Minnesota, along with a cluster of other rural counties. This matters not just for the high profile national and state races, but also for how engaged people are in their local governance. Many have given up on voting because of our dysfunctional discourse and a sense that the individual doesn’t matter. Those of us working toward political solutions need to earn their trust, not just in our ideas but in the value of our democratic system.
On Election Day consider voting as something that we do for each other to live in a free society, rather than a question of whether or not our single vote shifts the balance in the final tally. Voting is both a ceremonial recognition of our patriotism as well as a system that only works when large majorities participate.
The coming months and years will surely present us with many more discouraging moments of vitriol in our national dialogue, but for those with good faith in our country let this election be a moment to adjust course toward more civil approaches. Set an example that you would hope to see, rather than cultivating grievances over offenses from political celebrities. Consider discussions with those who differ from you as opportunities to explain a perspective rather than to convert the person to your view, and listen to others of good faith with your own good faith.
Vote with the passion of your convictions, but also with the joy of citizenship.