It has never meant so much to be an American.
Watching Barack Obama deliver his acceptance speech; listening to Mitt Romney humbly admit defeat while instilling his faith in American democracy; feeling a part of something much bigger than myself: all of these experiences reaffirmed what it means to be an American.
For months, political advertisements have discreded candidates on both state and federal levels.
The negative images became disheartening after a while, and every candidate acted like an athlete towards the end of a hard game: tired, ruthless and prone to make mistakes. It was overwhelming.
When the results were announced, I was reminded that we, as a nation, are truly united. After voting in my first general election, I now know, after palpating the depths of my own patriotic pride, what it means to be an American.
I am reminded of the incredible history that underlies the foundation of our government; that a few intellectuals and farmers divorced from England decided to fight against the most powerful military in the world in hopes of a better life.
I am reminded of the founding fathers who risked their lives in order to start anew; the veterans, those men and women who fell on bayonets, took bullets for friends and gave their lives for the United States.
I am reminded that despite political pressures and pundits, citizens can form their own opinions and exercise their right to vote, actively shaping the future of our country.
This is not to say that the United States is without its problems. Though Americans have twice elected an African-American president, racism is still apparent in our country.
The state of our economy is troubling; there are millions without jobs; the East Coast is still reeling from Hurricane Sandy; and extremely important foreign policy matters wait to be addressed in the Middle East, China and Russia.
Yet despite all of these negatives, I am confident that Americans can unite behind their elected politicians to march toward solutions.
I believe in America and its ability to move forward as both a people and a nation.
Barrack Obama’s reelection will not unhinge American morals and values, and if Mitt Romney would have been elected, America would not have fallen into the hands of a ruthless business man bent on destroying the middle class.
These are the rhetorical portraits painted with the words of both candidates. It is this fear mongering that further alienates me from the political process of an election.
America’s course would not have changed drastically under Mitt Romney, nor will it under Barack Obama. The result, in either case, is a slight shift of the boom to either the right or the left, not the sinking of the ship.
At the conclusion of yet another election year, take the time to think about what it means to be an American. Consider what it will take to spur on the prosperity of the United States.
The United States can use improvement in both domestic and foreign spheres. Though the election has ended, Americans will debate the outcome for the next four years.
If you voted in this election, your criticisms and complaints are warranted. If you did not vote, then enjoy the silence that only civic inaction guarantees you.
I welcome the next four years and all of the potential promise and problems they may bring. I look to the future, while looking back to our past to remember and acknowledge the mistakes we have made.
I urge Americans to follow politics closely in the next four years. Become more active in government. Write letters to representatives and senators. Find a cause worth fighting for.
The America I love is one comprised of a multitude of voices and opinions. What I desire most is a respect for people and their opinions. Calling a politician an idiot for taking an informed stance on an issue, this is something I cannot stand about the current state of public discourse.
Sir Thomas Browne once wrote, “I could never divide myself from any man upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his judgment for not agreeing with me in that from which, perhaps, within a few days, I should dissent myself.”
You may not agree with the outcome of the election, and you are entitled to your opinions, but temper your words so that they match the measure of your merit.
After all, yours is one of the voices that makes up the mighty roar of one of the worlds most powerful democracies.