Strong, mixed emotions followed last week’s general election. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it indicates voters had passion for the candidates and the outcome.
Turnout backs up the idea voters cared deeply about the election: Pew Research Center’s pre-election survey found 83% of voters it was very important who won the presidential election, compared to 50% in the 2000 presidential election. After the election, figures from the website vox.com showed it was the largest turnout in 120 years, with more than 160 million votes cast.
Even if your candidates didn’t win, the enthusiasm for the democratic process is something to be celebrated. Voter apathy has been a problem in the United States for decades, which is puzzling because the United States is widely considered the most successful democracy in the world; one would think citizens would be excited and proud to participate. This year, we were.
Eagerness to vote isn’t the only positive to arise from the election. It’s a chance to heal the country.
Even those who didn’t vote for president-elect Joe Biden must have found his acceptance speech comforting and inspiring; it was truly both hands stretched across the aisle seeking unity.
“I’ll work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did,” he said. “ ... The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another, it’s not some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. A choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”
President-elect Biden asked for cooperation and negotiation. He asked for a chance. He admitted both sides must make concessions to reach decisions that move the country forward. That’s true. Fanatical partisanship doesn’t make progress. Reason, cooperation and empathy do.
As a country, from ordinary citizen to highest elected official, let’s not lose our renewed passion for our democracy. Let’s keep voting and let’s cooperate.