This time tomorrow, the initial results of the 2016 national elections will have come in. If everything goes well, and the polling process proceeds as orderly and as peacefully as it has done in the last two elections, we may yet pat ourselves in the back for another successful validation of our electoral traditions.
But because our country is more democratic in theory than in practice, there are few things more sacred to us than our freedom to directly elect our leaders. We see it as the be-all and end-all of our democratic project—we care little for the day-to-day tedium of running the government; we often neglect our essential, but oftentimes inconvenient, duty to hold our leaders accountable for their conduct in office.
The result, as we have all seen, is the bewildering turn of events in a highly polarizing election season. I have never seen such intense mudslinging and muckraking. It has been particularly more vicious in social media, where it is easier to express and share commentary about the candidates. I myself have gotten into online word wars, and have even been asked by a supporter of a popular candidate to a face-to-face dialogue!
In due time, I will write about my whole experience of being a keyboard warrior, but let me tell you this now—there is little satisfaction to be had in arguing with a stranger who has turned deaf and blind to views other than his own.
In the end, it is our openness to opposing views and criticisms that help us forge sounder judgment and decisions. I do not necessarily think that I have made a better decision than those who do not share my choice, but I stand by the process with which I arrived at my decision. In my view, one’s preference for a candidate matters just as much as why one is making that particular choice, and I hope everyone has had enough time to carefully study the candidates’ different platforms and relevant issues facing our country today.
As we troop to the polling precincts, let us remember that the elections alone do not chart our nation’s destiny. Our responsibilities do not stop with installing a leader—we have to support him in his programs, disagree with him when he’s wrong, watch his every move and word, and if he gravely fails to carry out his mandate, seek out justice against him. The choices we make after our votes have been cast will spell the difference between our collective defeat and victory.