A shin­ing city

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

Take a deep breath. It’s all over. All of the “I ap­proved this mes­sage” com­mer­cials, un­com­fort­able dis­cus­sions at bar­be­cues and yard signs lit­ter­ing lawns and road­sides are a thing of the past as of to­day.

What may not be re­solved, how­ever, even with the elec­tion now con­cluded, is how we feel about our gov­ern­ment and those who sup­ported the op­pos­ing side.

The 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has per­haps been the most di­vi­sive elec­tion in our mod­ern his­tory. Sup­port­ers of Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump have called for the im­pris­on­ment of his op­po­nent and pro­claimed their dis­trust of the elec­toral process, calling the sys­tem “rigged.” Mean­while, sup­port­ers of Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton have be­moaned the thought of a “dan­ger­ous” Trump pres­i­dency, with many say­ing they would pull up stakes and move to Canada in the event of a Repub­li­can White House.

But what do such feel­ings say about the mod­ern Amer­i­can elec­tion sys­tem?

Ac­cord­ing to Gallup polls taken in the past two weeks, more than two in three Amer­i­cans (66 per­cent) say they are “very” or “some­what con­fi­dent” that votes will be cast and counted ac­cu­rately across the coun­try. While Amer­i­cans’ cur­rent level of con­fi­dence in the ac­cu­racy of the vote is sim­i­lar to the 59 per­cent recorded in 2008, when Pres­i­dent Barack Obama first won the pres­i­dency, it re­mains lower than what they ex­pressed from 2004 to 2007, when more than seven in 10 were “very” or “some­what con­fi­dent.”

Glob­ally, the United States ranks 90th out of 112 coun­tries that Gallup has asked this ques­tion in so far this year, the polling agency re­ported. While the per­cent­age in Amer­ica is un­doubt­edly low, the rank­ing may be slightly mis­lead­ing be­cause a num­ber of coun­tries with higher scores are not con­sid­ered elec­toral democ­ra­cies. But even among those that are, only Mexico (19 per­cent) ranks lower than the United States.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing to say the least that Amer­i­cans don’t feel that the elec­toral process is fair and hon­est. States are in­creas­ingly open­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for vot­ers to make their voices heard through early, ab­sen­tee and pro­vi­sional vot­ing pe­ri­ods. Some, in­clud­ing Mary­land, are of­fer­ing the op­por­tu­nity to reg­is­ter to vote up un­til the week before Elec­tion Day. De­spite what con­spir­acy the­o­rists may de­clare, doc­u­mented in­ci­dents of voter fraud are usual iso­lated and small in scale.

If you be­lieve that the sys­tem is “rigged” to keep one party in power, keep the real­ity in mind. Over the past 40 years, Amer­ica has elected three Repub­li­can pres­i­dents to five terms and three Demo­cratic pres­i­dents to five terms. In the same pe­riod, we have elected six Repub­li­can Con­gresses, eight Demo­cratic Con­gresses and six bi-par­ti­san Con­gresses — with many years of party-ma­jor­ity Con­gresses op­pos­ing the pres­i­dent’s po­lit­i­cal party. What about those re­sults scream “rigged” sys­tem? If any­thing, our his­tory proves that we are the “shin­ing city upon the hill” that Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan so of­ten re­ferred to in his pres­i­dency. Think about the Afghan, Chi­nese, Con­golese, Libya, Iranian and Rus­sian cit­i­zens who would gladly switch places with an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen in re­gards to their elec­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 Democ­racy In­dex, only 20 coun­tries qual­ify as full democ­ra­cies, in­clud­ing Amer­ica. Mean­while, 50 coun­tries qual­ify as au­thor­i­tar­ian states due to re­stric­tions on per­sonal free­doms and the elec­toral process, in­clud­ing all listed above.

The United States may have its is­sues, but let’s re­mem­ber our strong na­tion in the way that Rea­gan did.

“In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teem­ing with peo­ple of all kinds liv­ing in har­mony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with com­merce and cre­ativ­ity,” he said. “And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to any­one with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

That’s the Amer­ica we be­lieve in and hope you do too de­spite the re­sults of the elec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.