This past week was an encouraging one for restoring and affirming trust in our governing institutions. I worked at the polls with people of different political persuasions, but there was no partisanship. I did discover that one of the other team members supported Biden and another supported Trump, but it did not enter into their work of enabling voters to participate in the process. We were a team working on a task.
The same has been true in states around the country, especially including Georgia. In that state, the electoral infrastructure is entirely under Republican control, but the vote counting was carried out with diligence, caution, and integrity, even though the outcome was not for their preferred candidate. The threatened intimidation of voters at the polls and violence in the streets if President Trump was not re-elected did not materialize. The nation is remarkably calm in the aftermath of the election.
Now that it is clear that Joe Biden is going to be our new president, it is time to put the rhetoric and divisiveness behind us and learn to trust each other again. Whichever side you were on, reach out to someone who voted differently. Commit to being engaged in politics, looking for candidates who will tread a centrist path, avoiding the extremes of both parties.
Authoritarian governments are built on suspicion, distrust, division, nonnegotiable positions. Democratic governments are built on trust, mutual respect, and compromise. Democracy prioritizes good process over “good” outcomes. Goodness of process means impartiality, fairness, transparency, and integrity. Goodness of outcomes is in the eye of the beholder.
If you believe in democracy, if you are willing to trust the good intentions of your fellow citizens, find a way to help make it work.