On Thanksgiving, be thankful for Election Day
Earlier this month I remembered something to add to my list of things to remember on Thanksgiving Day.
It was on Election Day, which was for me this year a day of memories rather than a day of action like it has been before.
Beginning in 2004, when my son was first a candidate for the North Carolina legislature and then every two years, you could find me at the polls in his Raleigh district greeting voters, smiling, saying a few words like “I hope you will be voting for my son, Grier.”
That first election for him was the most exciting. He was a Democrat running in a district that had regularly sent Republicans to represent them, and he was running against a highly regarded moderate Republican incumbent who was so strong that no other Democrat wanted to run against him.
But my son had worked very hard through the spring, summer, and fall, knocking on doors throughout the neighborhoods, and at the end of the day, after the polls closed, we sat by the radio at his house to hear the reports come in. It was very close, but he won — and that moment was for a proud dad, unforgettably happy.
Over the next few years I returned to Raleigh on Election Day every two years working the same polling places, and over time I made more and more friends with the voters who passed by. Lots of folks who did not support my son were still friendly and stopped to gossip. The other poll workers of both parties exchanged stories and experiences. We avoided political arguments.
Two years ago Art Pope, who had financed an expensive effort that helped elect a large Republican majority, brought his mom to the polling place where I was working. He stopped to say hello, and I told his mom that my son was a candidate and I hoped she would vote for him. She nodded and said she would. Art smiled at me and said, “Don’t get your hopes up D.G. Remember that I am going to be there with her when she votes.”
On the way out, Art stopped by and said, “Your son is a fine person. I didn’t vote for him, but I didn’t send one penny to be used against him this election.
That election turned out to be very close, but Grier won again. However, Art Pope’s money and the Republican tide gave their side a big majority, which they used to create a new set of districts, including one that put Grier in the same one with another popular Democrat. Grier chose not to run against his friend in the primary. As a result, he was not on the ballot this year and I stayed at home instead of working the polls in Raleigh.
I missed the action. And I missed being a part of the great American day of democracy.
Even when elections do not go our way, Election Day is a time to remember how fortunate we are that the great and divisive differences that have split our country down the middle can be settled on one peaceful day without the bombs, air strikes, and killings that people in places like Syria, must endure to resolve their disputes.
Instead we come together with our political enemies and stand in line beside them, hoping to defeat them, but knowing that whatever the result we will be alive and safe—and fully able to continue our work for the good as we see it.
For this, we should say a grateful prayer of thanks, whether our candidates won or lost.
A prayer not just for Election Day or Thanksgiving, but everyday.
• D.G. Martin hosts "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/ A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.