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Thoughts from a Real American

The polling-booth line was already out the door at 6 am when I arrived to vote. Some Bethelites had arrived at 5:15 am to be able to vote and get to work or make trains on time. The rule prohibiting campaigning near the voting area meant that no one wore campaign buttons or t-shirts, so I had no idea about peoples’ voting preferences. Even as we sleepily joked about someone’s doing a coffee run, I was aware of the seriousness of our purpose. We had come to the voting booth determined both to have our say and to deal with whatever came at the end of the day. We were Americans, awake at this hideous hour, doing sacred work. The day wore on with extreme fatigue, and I, not knowing of course how the elections would turn out, nonetheless left “away messages” on my g-mail and instant message accounts that said “God bless America.” To some it may sound overly dramatic, but I am deadly serious: except for Israel, to which I have a strong attachment, I cannot imagine a country as magnificent as the United States of America. I have not always agreed with America’s leaders’ policies, the laws of the land, or my fellow citizens’ decisions on candidates or propositions, but I am truly grateful to have been born here, and I am beyond grateful that we all get a chance to have our opinions heard.

Do I wish some things were different in the US? Of course. Even as I am pleased that the vast majority of Americans elected the first Black president of the US and that Connecticut voters turned back an effort to legislate a ban on same-sex weddings following the state’s Supreme Court decision permitting them and at the same time opening the doors to young voters’ having a say in national primary elections, I am disappointed that three states chose to ban same-sex weddings on that same day. I was very distressed that some politicians derided those who disagreed with their platforms as being not “real” Americans or racists. But these are issues for another day and, as the saying goes, the perfect must not be the enemy of the good (which does not mean, by the way, that the good can’t be made better). The US is not perfect, but it is one of the best, and one of the best is a good enough start.


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