Tomorrow is election day in the United States. It’s almost hard to write the first word of our country’s name because we are hardly united these days – divided over everything from political idealism, immigration, terrorism, globalization, capitalism to the many other isms and phobias that threaten what we stand for as a country, and arguably THE standard bearer for democracy.
And yet, here we stand on the eve of the election faced with a choice to make between two candidates who revolt and enrage opponents rather than garner our respectful differences of opinion. CME Group’s Terry Duffy said recently that no matter who becomes president, this country is bigger than the office of the president. While he is right, unfortunately this is how many rationalize our next president.
We will choose a president who will endure the scorn of about half the country’s voters. That will weigh on our country from day one at levels we’ve not yet seen. It will be that person’s job to move this country forward on behalf of all of us. And in this, the nastiest and perhaps sleaziest of modern elections in America, our next president must rise above and bring this country together again. That is a tall order indeed, but I do believe it can happen, and we as a country can make that happen by holding ourselves accountable for the politicians we support, and showing our friends, neighbors and colleagues the respect they deserve to be heard over passionate topics. While you may snicker at that in the current environment of cynicism, it is what holds this country together.
I will not point a finger in one direction or another here – the rancor and tenor of this campaign has been disgusting and substance from both candidates has been insulting. It reminds me of what one exchange CEO told me about another election not long ago: “Sometimes you have to hold your nose and vote.” Sadly, many of us feel as though we need gas masks and hazmat suits to vote this year. I would simply say, please vote, not with your rage, but with your mind, and for the things you think will make this country stronger. That is your right.
At the World Federation of Exchanges’ annual meeting in Cartagena, Colombia last weekend, I found it interesting how often people spoke with me about the US elections – how curious and how disappointed they are by what has been happening here. It reminded some of them of the Brexit vote in the UK in June, which some Brits have said has deeply divided the country and squandered all of the goodwill and momentum from the last summer Olympics in 2012. There is a sadness about Britain leaving the EU, not just among the opposition inside the country, but for those outside as well.
This US election also stands to divide this country, but there could be a major impact well beyond our borders as well. It is for those reasons that we must as a country take every election, every vote, seriously. Think about it.