Because the way we vote determines our values as a society. And in 2012, our society chose compassion.
We chose health insurance for those who cannot afford it. We chose a softer approach to those seeking a better life within our borders. We chose – at least I hope we did – to begin healing our suffering planet. We chose the candidate who promised to protect the people who didn’t have a seat at the table of power, whose voices struggle to rise above the lobbyists, special interests and money that have flooded our political system.
Almost as important as what we chose is what we rejected.
We rejected a singular focus on cutting help for the poor to boost the incomes of the wealthy. We rejected a cynical brand of power that holds hostage the economic fate of millions for short-term political gain. And we rejected the politics of fear that would have us discriminate against minorities of all kinds – women, Latinos, African-Americans, gays and lesbians, and that tiny minority whose voice is barely heard within our halls of power: the poor.
I have my own problems pledging allegiance to the earthly flag of a fallible country, but the American Pledge of Allegiance argues that we are a nation “with liberty and justice for all.” Sometimes the United States has done a better job of fulfilling that promise than others. We’re a little closer to it today.
In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state, voters expanded the liberty to love and publicly profess that love. Nationally, we affirmed the principle of economic liberty for the disadvantaged and the uninsured. And true justice, while never completely attainable in this broken world, remains something toward which we will continue to work.
By re-electing Barack Obama, our society affirmed that justice should belong to everyone – regardless of social status, skin color, sexual orientation or ability to pay for health care. That’s a good thing worth celebrating.
The hard work isn’t done. Affirming the values of justice and compassion is ultimately not enough if we don’t work to make those values realities for the powerless in our society. But it’s a start.