Election Day is finally here and thank goodness for it. Even this self-proclaimed political wonk is tired of the rhetoric, the yelling and screaming on both sides of the aisle, and for the divisiveness of the election season.
Don't get me wrong. I did my research. I voted two weeks ago. I care deeply about the issues and who wins today.
But, you won't hear me announcing my vote on here (unless we are voting for something like cutest baby pictures or best place to get coffee or wine).
If you follow me on Facebook, well, you might be able to discern my choice because, for the first time since I signed up for Facebook four years ago, I have actually "LIKED" a political candidate's Facebook page.
As a classroom teacher, and now an educator who works with folks of all political persuasions, I have always been rather guarded about my own political views.
I feel very strongly that, as a teacher, it is not my job to indoctrinate or influence a moldable young mind as to what they should believe. My job is to teach them how to think, reason, and make educated decisions. I also feel strongly that I should model how to agree to disagree, how to hold a civil debate, and how to consider the effects of choices.
There are enough people out there, on both sides, showing us how to name-call and mud-sling.
Now, as a mother, I see this challenge in much the same way.
Our children are watching us, learning from us.
In 16 years when Emily and Andrew walk into the ballot box, I don't care which party they support.
I have bigger concerns than their party affiliation.
I hope they have learned how to really research and evaluate all sides of the issue.
I hope they know how to wade through the media mud and the cult of personality in order to choose the best candidate-- not the one with the best slogan or the one they would most like to drink a beer with.
I hope they vote their conscience, their upbringing, their values in a way that is respectful of others who disagree.
I hope they understand that calling people names just because they disagree with you is no way to advance your cause.
I hope they understand true tolerance is not about just accepting other's opinions when they aren't contrary to yours.
I hope they have friends and fellow citizens from across the political spectrum with whom they can have civil discourse about real issues without calling each other racists, bigots, or idiots.
I hope they understand what a huge and sacred right voting really is.
I hope they understand that voting is only one part of our civic responsibility.
I hope they understand that the real work happens every day when we support the causes we believe in.
That's the hope I believe in.
So, today, I say, vote.
Regardless of whether you believe in the same platform I do, VOTE.
But, also, remember, we are all Americans.
Seek to understand.
Refrain from whining or gloating or name-calling or fear-mongering.
Because, regardless of the outcome of today's vote, regardless of who is the president, an almost-impossible job awaits the "winner."
And he's going to need all of us.
"If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along -- whether it be business, family relations, or life itself."