By Dan Smith
As I stood in the long line to vote at my precinct, I occasionally shifted from one foot to the other.
The thought occurred to me that maybe this is what they mean by exercising my right. Actually though, I was pleased when a poll worker told us this was the best turnout he had seen in his 20 years of service. I really didn't mind the wait and it seemed no one else did either. Most of us had encountered friends and neighbors while in line to help pass the time.
While we all were very serious about our purpose there, the mood was actually a bit subdued. I knew many of us had drastically opposing views of how the government should work, but not a soul chose to spend the time badgering others with their personal opinions. The whole thing seemed more like some impromptu block party that had drawn together a cross section of our neighborhood.
As I considered that, I couldn't help but compare my own pleasant circumstances at the polls to the violent scenes that play out on our TV screens when a third-world country attempts democracy. While I waited to do my civic duty I had no fear that armed thugs might try to keep me from voting or force me to vote for a candidate at gun point. I know some countries find it impossible to pull off a peaceful election.
The line moved ahead as maybe 10 people were allowed into the building. I thought about how difficult it must have been to put our great system into place. The founding fathers took six years to work out the rules and guidelines for American government. Many believe that as soon as we gained independence from Great Britain, the work was done and Mr. Washington was installed as president to lead the new country. Not so. It took six years to work out the details and it was six years before President Washington took office.
Those patriots knew how important their work was and they got it right. Many of the acts of government they wrote are still in effect The first 13 states were allowed two senators each and the number of congressmen depended on each state's population.
While no system is perfect, ours has to be the best anyone has come up with so far. A good example is what happened in China only two days after our own election. On Nov. 8, the communist party installed a new ruler and an entire cabinet that were chosen very quietly by the party higher ups. The 1.3 billion people in China were not even aware a change was coming until it was announced a few days prior to them taking office. There were no long lines at the polling places in China. There was no vote. I have to believe if there had been, their time at the polls would not have been quite as pastoral as my own.
Finally inside, I used the black marker to fill in the ovals opposite the names of my preferred candidates. As I fed my ballot into the electronic counting machine I was certain it would not be shredded as it might in some nations.
This election was as divisive as any in recent memory and yet it was conducted in a most dignified manner. Once more the good old U.S. of A. is a beacon to the world. No matter if your candidate won or lost, you should be very proud.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society, The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of a fishing book.