I am not sure what I expected to feel after casting my vote this election. Hope? Excitement? Anger? Relief? To my surprise, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude. There are three main reasons.
As I approached my polling place the parking lot was packed. The lines to get a ballot were long. The ballot itself was long: two pages due to 14 amendments to the state constitution. The lines to insert the ballot into one of two voting machines was out the door. The line of cars waiting to exit the parking lot was like a football stadium on game day. I listened around me as I waited, and despite the complaints about the lines being long, people were getting along.
First point of gratitude: the civility of my fellow voters. We may not agree, but we can stand beside one another and even crack jokes on election day.
For however much you’ve despised this election season, for however amped up you get either for one candidate or against the other, and for however inconvenient the voting process may be in your day, we are blessed to live in a country where we are not dodging bullets to get to our polling places. We can trust that the process is mostly fair. We don’t fear recrimination against us or our families because of how we voted. The only police at my polling place were the ones called in to direct traffic as hundreds of SUVs, their drivers still clutching their lattes, exited the church parking lot.
Second point of gratitude: our democracy is safe.
Despite the fact that women have had the right to vote for nearly 100 years, and the fact that we represent half the population in this country, women still only make up 20% of the legislature. In fact, we rank 83rd out of 137 countries in terms of representation of women in parliament. That puts us behind countries like Burundi, South Africa, the Phillipines and Nicaragua.
Third point of gratitude: a woman at the top of the ticket. Whether you endorse her or not, that’s history and it’s significant for generations of women, from suffragettes to the youngest of our nation’s girls.
This election will be painful for many to move past, but as leaders we can help make that transition. No matter what the outcome, we are leaders, we are healers, we are reconcilers, and we can do it all with gratitude and love of democracy.