Editorial: Vote and chart an amazing course for our country

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

Perhaps the most beautiful lyric in music is this: “I once was lost but now I’m found.” It is a reminder of much, including that it is not only maps that help us find our way.

So it is with democracy. There is no map pulled from a drawer that charts our course. Rather, it is a ballot inserted into a box. Elections are a democracy’s map.

If you have felt lost these last four years, go vote. Help chart a new course. If you have felt found these last four years, go vote. Help maintain the current course. If you have felt nothing these last four years, know that is an impossibility. To be alive is to feel, but certainly feeling forgotten can be among the most empty of feelings. Go vote. If enough fill a ballot box, the emptiness subsides.

Know that there is much room in the box. In Douglas County in 2016, only 63% of registered voters cast a ballot. Nationally, it was just 55%. A map generally is better the more detail it has. In democracy, that detail can be added only by participation. Get informed, then go vote before your last opportunity on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Overcome any obstacle to do so.

But also know that maps often do not work alone to deliver us to our desired destination. Often a compass is needed. Character is a nation’s compass.

Compasses only work if they can find true north. America must again find its true north. There must be ideas and principles that we can agree are fundamental to the country we are and the people we strive to be. The trade winds of the day inevitably will cause our path to point east or west or any other number of degrees at any given moment in history. This is fine and to be expected. But, if the compass can’t find true north, it is all for naught.

There can’t be two north poles, but there can be a compass so broken that it can’t find one. America today has a map that shows such a course that provokes worry that our compass is broken. The ugliest map in America is the electoral map of blue and red states. Blue Democrats control the population. Red Republicans control the land mass. It is a course for the wretched, destined to lead to collision.

There have to be commonalities between rural and urban America that unite us. There has to be recognition that the very real differences between the two lands are fine and workable. America is far too large of a place to be a one-size-fits-all country. Differences do not have to equate to disdain.

To recalibrate our national character, we need to remember the great ideal that this country was founded upon. That ideal is a country should be a place that produces opportunity for all men and women, who are created equal. Despite all the turmoil, the evidence still shows that is our true north.

That is why it is so important that we choose a president based on character. A president’s most important job is to carry our compass. To make a presidential vote based on political positions is so inadequate. Often, the greatest issues a president faces are never discussed on the campaign trail. Think back to how often George W. Bush stated his position during the campaign on 9/11 terror attacks, how often Barack Obama stated his position on the Great Recession or how often Donald Trump stated his position on a pandemic.

We can never predict all the crises that will come. That is why it is critical to assess the character of those who will lead us through them. It is up to each voter to determine the traits that character should include. That assessment ends on Tuesday, and our course begins thereafter.

May it lead us to that amazing place of a country full of grace.


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