it always has been, but it's a price I'm willing to pay; and if I'm the only one, then so be it ... but I'm willing to bet I'm not.”
Please don't mess with my democracy.
I love our country. I love our government.* (* usually or at least the system and certainly always the principles and often the people) I love the freedoms we have to question the people who represent us, challenge the legislation that contradicts our founding principles, and demand and work for improvements for future generations.
Blind patriotism is as threatening to our country as enraged anarchy. One of the most influential memories of my childhood underscores my fervent belief that part of faith is truly challenging it in the first place. My sunday school teacher was a kind psychologist whose sons were a few grades above me in school and notorious hell-raisers who have since, in the final stretches of adulthood, seemingly mellowed out. He told our class that many people believe psychology as a discipline and practice is actually incompatible with Christian faith, or any religious belief for that matter, because it seeks to explore and explain behaviors that some would find to be truly divine. The details of this part of his lecture are fuzzy in my memory but I remember the moral of his story very clearly. He argued that to really believe something, you must challenge it, so you know with confidence and conviction that it is to be truly as you believe. To have faith, you first must have to doubt. Through your investigation and evaluation, you can then be sure that what you believe is true.
Our first amendment rights are among the most sacred given to us in the agreement between the government and its people. Our freedom of speech and freedom to petition the government provide us a mechanism with which we can comfortably and legally challenge our government and ensure that our democracy is working. During the campaign season, the first amendment is incited frequently, often over the freedom of speech in terms of advertising and campaign finance. Recently, some have used their first amendment right to suggest that our election process may not be legitimate. While they certainly have a right to voice this opinion, such an assertion can be very dangerous and needs to be analyzed carefully.
There were times in our country's history when elections were far from fair or free. To vote, you had to be a land-owning white man over the age of 21 in many states. Needless to say, I would not have been even allowed to participate. (Shout-out to the suffragettes for pushing for the 19th Amendment and all of our ancestors who fought for the 15th, 22nd, and 26th as well!). Over time, barriers were dismantled, more people were included, and the system itself became more democratic as a way to include the voices of those comprise the citizenry.
Voting fraud and corruption is a real threat to this system. The sanctity of our government relies on an open and secure process in which only those who are qualified participate and that the candidate who wins does so fairly. We should always be vigilant of sources who may try to compromise our elections and our government, for the blind faith can be the most damaging. At the same time, simply claiming a system is rigged because one does not like the outcome is not principled or even accurate and threats such as these should be concerning. The day after the elections, nearly half of the country is always disappointed because their preferred candidate/party did not win. Disappointment is healthy, good even, because it stems from a genuine interest in the government who serves us and it provides motivation for future participation. It is perfectly acceptable to be upset with the outcome, but we should not confuse that with an unwarranted attack on the process.
Fairness in accessibility and accountability in our election system is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue. We need ensure that the candidates who win were truly those with whom the majority (or, in cases of a viable third party candidacy, a plurality) of voters preferred and that they transition into power peacefully and legitimately. The integrity of the process cannot be comprised, else the system of government is as well by default. In an unusual way, this could be a bipartisan, across-the-aisle effort for us as Americans to band together and agree that we will not tolerate voting fraud nor belligerent defectors, election corruption nor intimidation. We should challenge our government to be better but we need to stand for this change as a community. At the very least, it is our patriotic duty. At the most, it is a necessity to maintain the sanctity and legitimacy of the country that we love.