Over the last several days much has been made about the fact that roughly half of all voters will be disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday's election. I hope those commentators are wrong because I believe that no matter who came out with the most votes, 100 percent of voters have something to celebrate today.
In our nation, democracy is thriving. This year more people than ever took the time to cast their ballots. Not one did so because he had been threatened by the authorities. Not one had to risk her life to get past anti-democracy snipers. None of them needed to worry about a government overthrow orchestrated by tyrants who didn't like the voters' choices.
We are Americans. We live in the country looked to as a model of democracy. Our political process is messy. People take sides and get passionate about their opinions. There's shouting and demonstrations, but none of this changes the fundamental ability of our country to remain “one nation under God.”
Together, we affirm the process that has helped us select the 44th president of the United States and thousands of local, county, state and federal offices. Whether or not we prefer the party in power, every one of our elected officials works for all of us. Voters do the hiring, and they can do the firing. It isn't enough to make campaign promises. Americans expect those promises to be kept.
As voters we have an ongoing responsibility to stay informed and involved. From the president down to the town council, all of our elected officials – including myself as a member of the N.C. legislature– need citizens to be as interested in government's work next year and the year after as we are right now. Officials need to know that voters remember promises and watch performance.
Tuesday's results may not be all that you or I wanted, but there's even good news in that. Your dissatisfaction should motivate you to action. We need more people to get involved in the political process. Your voice does count! Now is the time to look around for people who share your political philosophy and have the qualities you'd like to see in your elected officials. Once you find them, encourage them to run for office. You might even think about running yourself. The 2008 election may be over, but the 2009 municipal and the 2010 congressional election seasons have already opened. This is a good time for you to join in!