Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Power of Example

a ballot
In the September/ October issue of Foreign Affairs Joe Biden was quoted as saying, “America’s greatest strength is not the example of our power but the power of our example.” The simple play of words actually illustrates a profound truth that goes beyond the question of foreign policy. It’s the difference between coercion and attraction. A leader of a family or a corporation can throw the weight of their position into encouraging others to follow his rules or he or she can act in such a way that those in his or her ken naturally seek to emulate his or her behavior. The electoral process is something that’s easy to take for granted, particularly if you’ve grown up in the States. Only in the intermittent threats to this right is its preciousness often realized. Americans elected the first black president and now the first woman candidate has been defeated. Still as you see people waiting in lines that often snake around city blocks to get to the polls, it’s a moving prospect that can create a feeling of patriotism even in those who may be philosophically indisposed to such emotions. Commentators have talked about the legacy of the current election in negative terms, but this mightily contested race has also reinvigorated an appreciation of what it means to take part in the democratic process. Our military may be equipped with the latest killing machines, but nothing will ensure freedom and liberty in a world where terrorist acts specifically seek to undercut these values than the specter of an electorate peacefully casting their ballots. Thoreau famously said,  “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But there's something amazing and astonishing in a process that makes millions of individuals feel  their vote counts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.