I voted. I stood in a line wrapped around a building and had plenty of time to think about the significance of the moment. I met several people who were in line too. A young Hispanic woman stood behind me excited about casting her first ballot. Those of us around her applauded her decision and gave insight to calm her anxiety.
A retired teacher and a Jewish Lawyer stood in front of me. The former educator was about 20 years older than the lawyer and me and told us about the first air conditioners installed in Texas schools. Our conversation was interrupted when an elderly African American woman exited the voting booth. She was at least ninety-years-old and could barely walk, but she smiled from ear-to-ear excited about casting her vote. Noticing her struggle to stand, a young Hispanic man in his early twenties, ran to help her. He propped her up and positioned her against his chest, allowing her to lean on him as she waited for her daughter to return with their car.
The line was filled with voters from every walk of life—seemingly good and hardworking people. What struck me was the contrast between the political climate of the people and that of the pundits and the politicians. For months, we’ve watched the pundits–experts who represent our most knowledgeable political minds—yell and shout over each other— demanding their points and opinions be heard. We’ve witnessed politicians who, for a vote, stretch the truth and exaggerate statements in ways that cast a disparaging light on the opposing candidate. Yet, the people—yes, REAL AMERICANS—Educators, Lawyers, Students, Ministers, Business Owners, Football Moms, Doctors, Police, Architects, and Plumbers—stood in line respecting the right of each person to vote their convictions. There was no arguing, berating, or mudslinging. There were no accusations of lack of patriotism, morality, or faith. There were no last minute fear tactics or desperate attempts to malign. There was none of that! After months of being subjected to the worse example of conflict management and jockeying for position, it was the people who stood under the hot Texas sun demonstrating the discipline, restraint, orderliness, respect, and virtue expected from our political process.
I came out of the voting booth and observed a new group lined around the building. Still chatting. Still peaceful. Still respectful. Still waiting with dignity for their turn to voice their choice and cast their vote. I looked around and sighed with relief that someone still had sense in the midst of so much nonsense! I clung to my ticket and walked to my car—truly proud to be an American.