November 13, 2020
As I have watched the recent election in our nation I have been struck by two things - things I should have known, but things that inspired me about our democracy.
The first came to me as we all awaited the results of the presidential ballot count, some of which came in county by county over four long days. In the melee of national press coverage, we caught an unusual glimpse of some local state governments under pressure. People like Katie Hobbs, the Secretary of State from Arizona had multiple appearances on national tv. In her interview this Democratic state leader told us exactly how many ballots were yet to be counted in each locale. Her calm steady presence proved reassuring.
As I write this the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia Brad Raffensperger is under siege. The senate races in Georgia are doing run-offs and the Republican senators are calling for this state official’s resignation. At the eye of this storm in his state for over a week now, he remains calm and reassuring as he explains the law in the orderly patterns of elections.
Night after night as we waited the results of the presidential election we caught a glimpse of why our worries were unfounded. Local leaders proved to be stable and honest, presiding over processes that were transparent. One state official from Pennsylvania told reporters there are cameras installed in every county’s counting room. You can watch the count yourself on their websites. These quiet public servants put our minds to rest.
Then the second thing I found was in a column written by Cass Sunstein, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. Sunstein said our system worked as predicted and reminds us that in 1787 when James Madison published the Federalist Papers he explained that government works best when we are guarded by checks and balances so that no-one can wage undue influence or overstep their authority. The Congress, the President and the Courts all balance one another and keep each other in check. But something else holds them all in check, and it is easy to forget. It is the people living in separate communities, counties and states. They run the elections. That is a big check on our government in its entirety.
Our government is based on some fundamental truths we find in scripture, which speaks to the inherent worth of each one of us - no matter what economic station or rank. The government is based on this remarkable truth set forth at the start of scripture - we are each made in God’s image and each of us has inestimable value.
We forget that truth most days. But when we elect new leaders the decision comes down to millions of individuals who are each of inestimable worth in God’s eyes, and who together serve as a rudder for this ship of state. Our leaders chart the course and set the sails but this rudder - the people - hold it steady as it goes.