Election Day 2019
Is has been less than 48 hours since the polls have closed on the 2019 election, but I cannot stop thinking about what I saw that day.
Early on the morning of Election Day I saw a Facebook post that stopped me in my tracks. I saw many people in a photo taken in town by the polls, most of them friends and acquaintances I have sat on various boards with, run community events with, or even cheered for their kids on the soccer field.
It was a varied and wide representation of our community, and it showed so much more than people holding signs for the person they thought best to hold a political office.
I saw our Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton stand next to a woman holding a sign promoting his opponent. He isn’t just faking a smile in the photo, he is genuinely smiling, maybe even laughing.
I saw Donna Wray, a longtime friend and pillar of community events in our town, wear a shirt and hold a sign supporting Andy Turner for Commissioner of the Revenue… standing peacefully and happily right next to another woman who was proudly supporting the current Commissioner for office.
That photo showed Town Council members, real estate agents and other local people, all there to support the person they thought best for each office.
They are all smiling, encouraging, kind and peaceful.
They are showing respect to one another.
They do not fear that they will be ridiculed, criticized or bullied if they share their political opinion.
They don’t realize the light and hope that brings to a dark and fearful world.
But I saw it that day.
My husband and I were able to rush off to the polls that night to cast our vote and take a drive through town afterwards until our teenagers texted us promising that our Littles were tucked in.
I had seen support of certain candidates online, and watched the news just a little throughout the day, and though I felt a little anxiousness at the polls when we pulled in, it wasn’t because I was fearful of my life or that I was going to be pressured or hassled or witness an ugly scene between opposing parties.
It was because the world we see through media is so very different than the world we actually live in here in Franklin County. It doesn’t line up with what is on the screens of our phones or TVs.
It took my mind a moment to settle that anxiety of the fake opposition in my mind against the “hello’s” of the sign holders. I had to process that the people standing around on that beautiful night were my neighbors, my kids’ friends’ parents, and generally good people that just wanted the best for their country and their county.
The weight of that privilege is so daunting sometimes.
I put my fears where they belonged and remembered the truth of where I know we live. I remembered the photo from that morning and reminded myself what was the reality I knew in my own experience. I silently thanked God for the privilege to vote as I cast my ballot, and asked my husband if we could go out for ice cream so I could bury my emotions in food. (Sort of teasing.)
The Election Day came and went, and we will not have another for another year, thank God,
I went to sleep that night still thinking of that photo taken down by the polls. I had stayed up long enough to see that some of the people I voted for had won, while several others had not.
I was both parts relieved and disappointed.
The next day I saw congratulatory statements as well as concessions to the race. It was all so well done and peaceful, every comment I saw just further sealed the truth of what I saw on Election Day: you can disagree with someone about their political views and still love your neighbor.
I cleaned out my daughter’s second grade folder that evening and found a folded peice of paper she had written a vocabulary definition on. It read:
“Respect – to show honor and consideration.”
I stared and read and stared and re-read. That was the key I had been looking for to put in to words all along. To teach our children well, this is the way we should walk. To show them how we can love one another AND disagree on how we think our little world would be best run. That it’s okay if your candidate wins, and it’s okay if your candidate loses.
Because your neighbor will still be your neighbor long after the polls close, and though they will most likely forget who you voted for, they will never forget the way you made them feel.
Because the world we see on TV is not the one we live in here in Franklin County. Here we show respect and kindness, and lay our lives down for each other.
I guarantee that if you voted for someone different than Donna did that day, she will still love on you, let you into her store, give you advice on any area of your life you may (or may not) need, and see you had good clothes on your back and warm food in your belly.
I am sure every one of us has some disappointments as to who won and who lost. That is something we cannot change until next Election Day.
In the meantime, we have neighbors that need checking on, kids that need to be raised properly, businesses that need to be run well, and marriages that need tending to.
And if we don’t do those things to the best of our ability in the meantime, the next Election Day will be pointless. Because it’s only if we do the little things right, it makes the big things possible to happen.
Cheers to Franklin County, and cheers to my friends and neighbors that make this a beautiful place to live.
May each one of you live in your own Franklin County, instead of the one we see on TV…