Election Day: a celebration of American democracy

Next Tuesday, Nov. 3, is a very special day in America. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day, a date set by federal law for America’s eligible voters to cast their ballots for the candidates for public office of their choice. This year, 2020, marks an election year for President of the United States. There is no more spectacular nor solemn occasion in the American experience of self-government than the election of America’s president.

The 2020 presidential election will be the 59th time that America’s voters will participate in choosing our nation’s chief executive. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s presidential election campaign has been robust and keenly contested. Supporters of President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, advocate that only the president is equipped with the necessary skills to guide America back to a period of prosperity and national security.

Conversely, proponents of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, contend that a change of national leadership is essential to preserve and protect America’s fundamental freedoms and values. They point to Biden’s temperament and experience in government as a solid basis for change.

The current national campaign has been one of the most unusual in America’s political history. The limitations of a national pandemic have hamstrung both President Trump and former Vice President Biden in pressing their cases to America’s voters. Concerns for public health have restricted travel, political rallies and interacting with crowds that normally characterize presidential elections.

Still, the miracle born at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 endures. This year’s campaign has been vigorously outlined on social media, on television and radio, and through virtual candidate events. Two debates between President Trump and former Vice President Biden have revealed the stark differences in their candidacies.

The last day for early voting is Friday, Oct. 30. Information on early voting is available at dallascountyvotes.org, tarrantcounty.com and collincountyvotes.com. 

The closing day for voting will be next Tuesday. Polling locations across North Texas will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and may also be found at dallascountyvotes.org, tarrantcounty.com and collincountyvotes.com. Be sure to take a valid, authorized photo identification card with you, such as your current Texas driver’s license, current passport, voter identification card, Texas handgun license, photo identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety or current military identification card with a photo. Without proper identification, voters will be compelled to cast a provisional ballot at the polls, which ultimately may or may not be counted.

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of Election Day and the tradition of free and fair elections that are the hallmark of America’s democracy. Since the founding of the nation, brave Americans, men and women, have fought at home and abroad to preserve our union. What were they fighting for? The answer, quite simply, is freedom. Our fellow citizens who have sacrificed their blood and lives on the battlefield fought for an ideal — that the United States of America is a nation imbued with sacred freedoms: the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble peacefully, freedom to demonstrate and advocate for both popular and unpopular ideas, the freedom to bear arms, freedom from tyranny and the freedom of self-government. Our precious freedoms spring from the moving principle of American democracy — the right and duty to vote. Election Day is the ultimate public celebration of freedom.

Few have ever expressed the importance of the vote better than President Ronald Reagan, our 40th president: “But just as important as how we vote is that we vote. Every vote cast on Election Day means that we the people have taken a hand in shaping our nation’s future. Every time we vote we’re grabbing hold of a lifeline that’s 3,000 miles long and more than two centuries old and, with millions of others, helping to pull America forward into the future. Yes, every time we vote we’re standing up, side by side, with the Founding Fathers, with the men of Valley Forge, with patriots and pioneers throughout our history, with all those who dedicated their lives to making this a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Every time we vote, we help to make America stronger.”

President Reagan continued, “I’m sure you’ve heard friends say, ‘Oh, my vote won’t matter.’ Well, the next time someone says that to you, I hope you’ll remember that time and again, over the years, elections have turned on a handful of ballots. In 1960, President Kennedy was elected by a margin of just one vote in each precinct around the nation. In 1976, the presidential election turned on two states: One was won by six votes a precinct; the other by a single vote a precinct. And in the last 26 years more than 50 U.S. Senate and House races have been won by fewer than a thousand votes. But even when elections aren’t that close, your ballot counts, because in voting, you’re accepting your part in the greatest decision-making body the world has ever known, the American electorate.”

As American Jews, we have a great stake in the welfare and future of our nation. Let us forthrightly celebrate the miracle of the Ages, by voting on Election Day and, by doing so, fulfilling the blessings of America’s liberties.

A version of this editorial appeared in the Oct. 29 edition of the Jewish Herald Voice and is reprinted with permission.

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