Well, it’s over — for the moment at least.
Some are sad. Many are happy. A large number of us — though, sadly, not all — exercised our privilege and our duty as citizens by voting. This was underscored by Broadway High School senior Liza Churchill as she anticipated participation in her first election: “Voting is an amazing opportunity. It allows me to actively participate in our democracy and to show my dedication to my country. The idea that my vote could lead to the betterment of our country is inspiring.” She enumerated three specific issues that motivated her — “climate, equality, and unity.” (Daily News-Record, Oct. 28)
Recently, I listened to an online discussion between three Duke University professors on the subject of “What it means to be an American.” They represented three different ethnicities and three different paths to citizenship. But they all agreed with Liza Churchill. The uniqueness of America is expressed in the freedom to participate actively in the ongoing process of making America a land of opportunity. When given a fair chance, people of all backgrounds — like those three professors — will be empowered to succeed.
For the moment, I invite you to reflect on the preamble to our Constitution (which some of us had to memorize in elementary school): We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. For me, that is what this election has been about — leveling the playing field so that all our citizens have the freedom and opportunity to follow their dreams. I am under no illusion that four years from now ours will be a perfect union but I am much more hopeful that it will be a healthier one.
So, I ask you, are any of the issues Liza Churchill cited contrary to that vision? If we will give serious attention to the three she mentioned — climate, equality and unity — we will go a long way toward healing the spirit and body of our republic. Who will argue seriously that cleaner air and purer water are bad things? Who really wants to succeed while denying opportunity to others? Who believes that ongoing civil strife is good for any of us? The idea, espoused by some, of a new “civil war” is untenable. Near the end of the last one, President Lincoln called on the nation to have done with civil strife and to move ahead so that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. We now have another opportunity to realize that vision.
In these next four years let’s join Liza Churchill and her peers in making it happen.
Tom Reynolds lives in Bridgewater.