When Early Voting Surges, Democracy Wins
Voter engagement is at an all-time high. We are all likely sensing it all around us. In the middle of red and blue (mostly blue here in NJ) yard signs, I even spotted a few that captured voter enthusiasm at its peak: “I’m so gonna vote 2020” with no mention of any candidate name! Where are these unprecedented levels of interest coming from in an usually apathetic US electorate, I wonder.
One doesn’t need to seek too far for the answer. Irrespective of how his presidency goes down in history, President Trump has clearly whipped up an intense surge in political engagement. Though we have turned into an ultra-polarized nation under this administration - where everyone seems to be busy picking sides - it has also spurred Americans to come out in large numbers and participate in our experiment of democracy.
I think this is a good sign. In fact, this is a great sign. This means people are anxious to have their voices be heard. Every single vote counts this year. With the global pandemic consuming every inch of the printed media and each minute of airtime, the stakes are truly high. In such climes when you give people easy access to voting, they will respond with a never-before turnout.
People have also been waiting in long queues across many states when in-person voting opened up, COVID19 be damned. To me these are the tell-take signs of a resolute electorate. People are voting out of determination. It doesn’t matter if Republicans are voting in large numbers to show their support for Trump or if naysayers will say that Biden-voters are coming out in full force to cast their ballot against Trump and all that he stands for. When the electorate is engaged at this level in our plebiscites, it can only be good for democracy.
Disagreement is the bedrock of American democracy. But democracy also means that we stand united even when we are on different sides of the aisle. We fight for what we believe in, but we fight fair with decency, dignity and respect. Let this be the election that brings back decency and dignity and respect once again from California to the New York islands.