This is a (mostly) business-oriented blog, with some side trips to the world of golf once and again, so I don't like to stray too far into the wilds of politics.
But this being election day here in the United States, I did want to take a moment and share a few thoughts about our politics and the political system here in the United States.
It would be very easy to have watched this most recent US presidential campaign and be completely jaded. The amount of money spent this go-around has been entirely obscene, and at the end of a summer and fall of massive television media spending, we're about right back to where we started out in June in terms of the polls, when all that local TV advertising sprung forth.
And, here we are, on election day, with all that money having been spent, and examining most polls, national or otherwise, only to find that we're likely in a toss-up race.
Which is the point at which I wish to say a big "Thank you" to our Founding Fathers.
In "The Federalist Papers," authors Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the following (this dispatch, in particular, is from Federalist 1):
It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.
With over two-and-a-quarter centuries now of peaceful US presidential elections and subsequent smooth transitions of power, I believe we can answer Hamilton et al. that yes, it was a question left to the Americans, and we have answered it proudly and loudly -- with the Founders' guidance and the wisdom of the early political structures they recommended for the country, of course.
Implicit in the idea of having a choice, and allowing the people to make that choice in a free and fair election, is the notion that one set of ideas has more appeal to one than another.
Therefore, in making a choice, one has to favor one set of ideals more than another.
But the genius of the Founding Fathers was that they took us one step further. Yes, we all get to make a choice and vote for the candidate whom we think would make the best president.
But all the power was not vested in that single branch of government, the executive. Instead, in our US Constitution, the founders explicitly constructed a means by which we could have three counter-balancing branches of government, each with checks and balances against the other, and in the case of the legislative, where we the people also had a vote.
Think of it as a triangle, with the overbearing weight of one branch being countered by the combined strength of the other two branches.
Though many might complain this system makes it very difficult to accomplish the people's business, one might just as well say that that's precisely the point, that an endeavor worth pursuing has to be a very good idea supported by the majority of the people and upheld by all branches of the government to be fully enacted.
So whether you're a small government conservative, a big government liberal, or even a minimalist government libertarian, there's something in our system to accommodate most free-thinking people.
I spent last evening watching the National Geographic channel's "The War in Afghanistan," which provided a very compelling visual history of the past decade's war in that country.
What was amazing to me throughout the war there was the willfulness and commitment of young American soldiers in often impossible situations and in constant peril and personal danger, running towards the bullets and RPGs, rarely away from them.
Just think about that for a moment and let that thought really sink in. Our soldiers running towards the bullets. Doesn't seem to me like a rational thing to do.
You might not like the candidates you have to select from today. You might not like the seemingly neverending process and ongoing media coverage and hype.
You might not even like those newfangled electronic voting machines.
But I would ask you to forget all of that "noise" for a moment, and instead think about all those American soldiers who, over the past 236 years have been willing to put their lives on the line -- or, worse, give up their lives entirely, so you can spin that dial or fill in that oval on that ballot.
If such brave men and women thought such a system was willing to fight and die for, it's hardly asking much of we "citizens" to give a little consideration to the politics and process and show up at the polls. In fact, we ought to consider it more of a privilege than many of us do.
Though I have my candidate in this election, I struggled through the process myself and deliberated greatly before making my selection in early voting. But no matter the outcome this evening, I will be a happy and grateful American.
People fight every single day, year after year, to come from around the world with the hopes and aspiration of living in our great country. Our soldiers willfully run towards the bullets in battle.
Both of these things should be powerful reminders to those of us who are natural born citizens just how good we have it, and how we should never, ever take our precious freedoms for granted, including the right to vote.
Now, go spin that lever or turn that dial or fill in that oval. It's the least you can do for your country.