It Begins!

Well, some polls are now officially closed. We are at the beginning of the end of a long-awaited day. I’m nervous and excited, happy to be part of the great process of democracy, and eager to see this seemingly endless campaign season over.

I figured now might be a good time to put out a few suggestions for the days ahead:

1. To those of you whose favorite candidate wins, be gracious to those who supported The Other Guy. No matter who wins, lots of people are going to be disappointed. No need to make them feel any worse by rubbing it in. (This goes double for those of you who, like me, support Obama: Practice the unity that you preach. Walk the walk. If this election is, like Senator Obama says, about ending “politics as usual,” then let’s make sure we help with that.)

2. To those of you whose favorite candidate loses, be gracious to those who supported The Other Guy. (Sound familiar?) People support presidential candidates for many different reasons, and most of them — even those who support a candidate you can’t stand! — do so for honest reasons, believing in their hearts they are making the right choice. This does not make them idiots, or evil, or any of the things many of us (myself included, I confess) have said about those who picked the winner of the 2004 election. Everyone has different priorities, and you know what? That’s okay. That’s America.

3. To everyone: Remember that there are more important things in life than politics — and remember that the president neither solves nor ruins everything. This is an astounding, historic election, but whoever assumes office on January 20 is still going to have to contend with two other branches of government, not to mention the will of the American people. If the results come in and you find yourself getting a little crazy, might I suggest a quick walk, a few deep breaths, and some meditation on the number of roadblocks any president has between himself and getting anything done.

4. To those of you who voted: Thank you. Thank you for fulfilling part of your duties as a citizen. It felt good to be involved in this, didn’t it?

5. To those of you too young to vote: Remember this. Not every election will likely be this sensational, but every election is important. Don’t let your interest slip just because the next time around the choices aren’t as charismatic, or as clear-cut. It’s important every time.

6. To those of you who are unable to vote for citizenship or other reasons out of your control: Here’s hoping things turn out in a way you’ll like, too.

7. And finally, to those of you who are eligible to vote, who didn’t: For the vast majority of you in most parts of the country, THERE IS STILL TIME. If you’re in line by the time the polls close, they cannot turn you away. Here’s a map of the poll closing times across the country. Get out there and be a part of this.

Now let’s do this thing!