I like to bring the kids with me to vote. I’m not a wealthy man and its unlikely that I ever will be, but along with Grandma’s skillet I have one other proud legacy to provide them. They get to see it on Election Day.
They should grow up understanding that much of what makes them unique as Americans starts on the first Tuesday in November. The rules of their legacy are – you don’t put Grandma’s skillet in the dishwasher and you don’t give your vote to fools, even if they say they’re on your team. That skillet is awfully durable, but what makes it special can be ruined with carelessness. You get the metaphor. Don’t make me harp on it.
The power we exercise when we vote is far more potent than it seems. My kids need to understand that their ancestors’ wisdom and sacrifice gave them the gift of being in charge of this country, and to a large extent – perhaps larger than any of us really wants – the world. That’s a deeply ironic gift, like being handed a shiny new hydrogen bomb. It needs to be insulated from sour moods and bad days.
In my time I’m doing what I can to preserve the gifts given to me so they can be passed down in better condition to those who follow. We’re all trying to do that to the best of our ability.
We could all use some help.
Come Wednesday, we’re going to have to find ways to work together in a political atmosphere polluted by opportunists. It’s all good fun until someone has to govern.
Our economy is smothering under the rubble of a mortgage industry ruined by unfettered greed. We’ve wasted trillions on overseas wars with no clear goals and we don’t know how to end them. The effort at absolute prohibition of drugs like marijuana has given spectacular wealth and power to criminals who now threaten our borders. Generations of public policy favoring oil as our fuel of choice is empowering our enemies and stagnating our economy. And our refusal to make hard choices on either taxation or spending has given us a troubling debt.
We have some problems to solve.
By Wednesday, the entertaining sport of elections will have to yield to the hard work of governing. Are the people we vote for going to be ready to do the hard work, or will they just keep blaming and campaigning and trying to frighten us?
In the weeks and months that follow this election we will all have to learn how to compromise with people who have been labeled as extreme, socialist, fascist, nutjob, racist, marxist, idiotic, incompetent, crazy, and/or dangerous; sometimes with good reason. I don’t envy the winners. Sometimes a failed kitchen experiment gets some pretty stubborn stuff glued to the surface of Grandma’s skillet. Nobody’s perfect.
Are we ready for what we need to do? Can we move past name-calling and find some common ground? Our legacy depends on it.
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