Today we have an opportunity to exercise our civil liberty by going to the polls to vote. Tom Brokaw reminds us that we will go freely and “not at the point of a gun or a tank” and that is still one of the greatest expressions of democracy in the world.
To put it succinctly, as people of faith who are called to be responsible citizens, we have an opportunity to think, to vote, and to pray.
Think! Think through the issues. Think about the challenges and opportunities facing our nation and our world. Think about the values of the candidates. Think for yourself and don’t let anyone…your mother, your father, your minister, your favorite news personality, or your favorite rock star, do your thinking for you.
Vote! Voting is our civic responsibility and is still one of the most significant privileges afforded citizens of these United States. Don’t let any poll or prejudiced prediction persuade you that your vote doesn’t count. Until the last ballot is counted, every vote counts, and your single vote becomes a part of the collective voice that chooses important leaders for this crucial season.
Pray! Of course it is important to pray before or for the election. However, once the campaign rhetoric has grown silent, the ballots have been counted, and the winners have been announced, it is imperative that we pray for whoever is elected because the winning candidate will have a tough, tough assignment. The challenge of unifying our nation and navigating the maze of decisions nationally and globally is almost impossible.
Late tonight or early tomorrow, winners will be announced for every public office in the country, and we will know the name of the next president of the United States. Bipartisan cooperation is not only needed in Congress; it can begin in our public discourse. A presidential election is not like the big rivalry game between your favorite team and their nemesis where afterward you praise the winner and taunt the loser, or vice versa. It is the election of an imperfect human being to lead our great nation.
Today, think, vote, and pray! And tomorrow let’s call on ourselves and our leaders to engage in constructive public dialogue and to begin a new era in bipartisan leadership that tackles the tough issues with fresh vision and courage.
(Barry Howard serves as the senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pensacola.)