Still fortunate this 4th of July
Another Independence Day has come and gone, but there was something about this one that was different, something that continues to speak so well about this nation and about its people.
That something is our ability, for 241 years, to choose as our leaders anyone we deem preferable to anyone else.
Of course we realize that millions of people are unhappy about the person we elected president, angry that someone who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots is in the White House, angry that our electoral system determines the presidential outcome through what they consider an outmoded method, the Electoral College.
But to put it in the tritest terms possible: It is what it is.
The point, though, is that millions of people are delighted with the person we elected to the nation’s highest office. Millions of people voted for him. He carried the states he needed to carry and his opponent did not.
This is how the system has worked for hundreds of years and no matter what the outcome every four years. The Electoral College was set up so that states with great populations could not constantly determine the outcomes of national elections. While many people would be pleased if California, New York, Massachusetts, and other states that lean liberal would make presidential determinations, clearly many people would not.
Without the Electoral College, states like New Hampshire with its four electoral votes, would be of no value to the process because our population is too small to swing an election. That is not the case with New York and California.
Every four years, we do something in this country that people in many nations never get to do and complain as we might about the outcome, we know that four years hence, we’ll get a chance to change things. That’s a pretty good system.
Think about that the next time Vladimir Putin is re-elected president of Russia with 93 percent of the vote and wonder if he’s taking down the names of those among the 7 percent foolish enough to think there was the potential for another outcome. Boris Yevchenko, the Gulag awaits you.
We remember these things as we watch the annual Amherst Fourth of July parade wind its way through town and around the lovely Village Green, past the Town Hall where local decisions are made by people we have elected. There are countries in this world where local decisions are handed down from on high.
People often compare this nation to Canada or the United Kingdom and on some levels, those comparisons are fair. We can argue about health care systems, we can ponder the wisdom of a prime minister being able to call another election without having to wait a specified period of time, and perhaps some of us would like that better.
But there are lots of things that we would like better than what we have. The grass is always greener. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s just concrete painted green, which might have worked for Shirley Temple but …
Days like Independence Day in Amherst remind us of how fortunate we are. When it comes to elections, we win some, we lose some, but we always get to vote another day.