As I watched the Super Tuesday returns, I was struck by how utterly enjoying it is to be part of a democracy. My son, voting in his second Presidential election process, remarked to me how much he loves voting. He said how fulfilling it is to him to vote for a candidate that best matches your views and for that view to be reflected in the selection of the President. Inside the polling booth, he knew who that was, and voted accordingly. We were buying groceries to make dinner together and watch the election returns, similar to what we do for the Academy Awards.
Yet despite the excitement of the evening, the election means a lot more than winning an Oscar. I was struck by how important these votes are - whoever moves closer to the Presidency will be winning the opportunity, the responsibility, to represent some 350 million citizens of the United States, as our leader for at least four years. We are all looking for a good leader, a leader that can improve the quality of lives of Americans, improve the economy, bring about peace, and resurrect a view of us around the world as the compassionate, thoughtful people we are rather than arrogant bullies perceived by many.
I think our general discontent with the current leadership is making us all activated to participate. Perhaps the current President's greatest accomplishment was to aggravate a population of 350 million so much so that we have had a burst of engaged democracy, a burst of ownership to be involved in selecting the next leader, to take action running our own country. The decision reminds me of times that I have hired an employee at my work that over time was not a good fit for the position. Having to fire someone is never easy, and I swear every time that I will take more time in the next hire, meet repeatedly with potential candidates, check references carefully, and interview numerous times. I know that the more time I take up front before hiring someone, the better the candidate will be and the less time and pain later.
As we move though this election process, we need to pause and take more care in weighing each candidate, not on the strength of the media spin, the TV ads, or a friend's views. We need to read as much as possible about the candidate - what kind of individual are they? Do they have integrity? Are they aware of their own shortcomings? Can they listen carefully and then integrate such knowledge into their own world view and act accordingly?
These are some of the questions we need to ask before electing the next President, and we need to see these qualities emerge in their discussion of the issues and in the debates. I, like my son, am so happy to be part of a democracy, and even happier to see it right now, when we the people are actively engaged in its process.