Just Who Did You Vote For?

Late into the evening I watched the election returns. My day began standing outside my precinct’s polling station before it opened and it ended with President Obama’s acceptance speech early in the morning.

As the evening progressed and more and more states were projected for the President, I took a look at Facebook and listened in on Twitter to see the alternating cries of woe and celebration.

It is hard not to ask the question, “Just who did you vote for?”

My family lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, during the 2000 election and my wife worked in the building where the Palm Beach County Election Commission had their office. When all of the craziness happened with the hanging chads, the media and the crowds descended on her building. The response by the public was frightening and they eventually sent the employees home for safety. For the next several weeks, Florida and the rest of the nation sought a solution to resolving the presidential election.

It was difficult and controversial, but as a nation of law we found a way and we elected a president.

I served as a pastor of a church at that time and there were widely different opinions in my congregation on the outcome of that election. I did my best at that time to help everyone find their place as both a citizen and a Christian through a very difficult and divisive time. We became stronger because of it.

Yesterday, I voted in my eighth presidential election. I have voted for some candidates who have won and some who have lost and years ago I began to realize I was not voting just for the candidate. I vote for someone else, too, with each ballot I cast.

I am voting for the American people.

I was in line before 7 a.m. yesterday and my eyes teared up when I turned to see more than a hundred people standing in line behind me. My heart was thrilled to drive past polling stations and see signs and supporters out front encouraging voters. My conscience was pricked last night when I heard some people stood in line for hours to vote. I am proud to be a part of a process where people express their opinion at the polls.

The American people reelected a president yesterday. He will govern with other men and women in a system of checks and balances that prevents any one person from having supreme authority. This election was as much about the rest of us as it was about two men.

The preamble of our Constitution begins with “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union . . .” and sets the stage for a nation governed by people. Every election is a step in this union forming experiment in which the people of this nation have been engaged for more than two hundred years. These elections are about the people of this nation.

I vote for the American people because I have seen people disagree but still work together for the common good. Whomever any of us voted for yesterday, we can still work together. Our country and the people in need in this country need us to work together beyond political convictions. I voted for us to work together.

I vote for the American people who respect our electoral process. Scripture calls Christians to pray for their leaders. My heart is distressed when I see fellow believers speak negatively and disparagingly of any president. If anything, Christians should be setting the standard for fellow American citizens for how we respect and support those with whom we disagree. I vote because I believe Christians can lead the way in supporting their leaders, whether we agree or disagree with them.

It is the morning after the election and emotions are strained for many people, but I believe in the people of this great nation. I voted for them yesterday. I voted that they would stand up today and tomorrow and every day until we vote again to work beside their neighbors, to support their elected leaders, and to believe that, together, we can make this a more perfect union.

Everyone wins when we vote for each other.

  • Julie

    Amen! Well said!!!

    • Darrell Gwaltney

      Thank you, Julie. Just trying to add positive things to the conversation . . . .

  • Dean Lisle

    Nice commentary!

    • Darrell Gwaltney

      Thanks! I was fortunate to have a good writing teacher in high school!