Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, but the chance to have a say in the nation’s leadership is not to be overlooked as an occasion for gratitude. The fact that over most of the nation, Election Day dawned bright and crisp — perfect elements for poll lines — is all the more reason for a hat tip toward our shared good fortune. Weather may remain beyond human control, every American adult is endowed with the privilege of casting a vote no less weighty than any other.
Winston Churchill could not have known the difficult choice the American electorate would ponder in 2020 when, in 1947, he lectured, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
To be sure, there are shortcomings in the choice between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden for president. As candidates, each champions a distinct political perspective perfectly sensible to many, altogether untenable to others. Mr. Trump upholds the traditionalist embrace of limited government; Mr. Biden espouses an avant-garde leap toward a “reimagined” future. The Founders clearly hoped posterity would not throw down the foundations they erected, but they surely understood the freedom to choose cannot exclude the possibility of foundering.
Americans in 2020 don’t need to be “all-wise” to grasp the dread awareness that half the nation is about to see its hero vanquished and its aspirations shattered. Rejection provokes sorrow, sometimes anger and occasionally violence. Bitter losers who carry their fury into the streets to destroy property and harm innocents need to revisit Churchill’s enlightened understanding of democracy’s imperfections.
There are plenty of examples around the world where societies have made the mistake of organizing around force rather than freedom. In North Korea, where citizens have never experienced free elections, the very idea of their “dear leader” serving at the pleasure of ordinary people is nonsense. In China, social conditioning has taught citizens to vote with the knowledge that the “wrong” choice won’t go unpunished. In Iran, the “wrong” choice is pre-emptively excluded from the ballot. In Venezuela, voters suffer through fraudulent balloting while clinging to memories of a time when elections were fair.
It is said the 2020 battle of the ballot box is the most consequential one of our lifetime. The same was said of the last one and, in all probability, the next one will be described in similarly impassioned tones. An epic Election Day though it may be, the sun will not stand still in the sky to aid a Chosen side, as in Old Testament lore.
Rather, the baffling ballot-counting process will finish, eventually, and a Trump or Biden victory will be proclaimed. Then win or lose, Americans who bleed red, white and blue should thank their lucky stars for the right to choose.
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