- - Monday, November 7, 2016


Americans stand together on this day, poised at the point of making an important choice. The decisions that millions make in the polling booth will send the nation moving dramatically in one direction or the other. The result of what happens with the decision today will be impossible to halt or reverse for a generation or two, or more. The right to vote is both privilege and responsibility.

Presidential elections are always momentous. The campaigns can be a time of hope, like the coming of Christmas, or an occasion for dread, like the approach of war. Election Day itself can bring the elation that comes with weighing solutions to a difficult problem, and the relief of finally making a decision. Or it may be an emotion of resignation, as in “heads I win, tails you lose.”

For some, the choice is easy. If you’re from Chicago, you root for the Bears and vote Democratic. It’s just what you do. If you’re from South Carolina, you go to church on Sunday and vote Republican. But for millions of Americans, the presidential race this year has been a finger-drumming conundrum. A legion of politicians fought for the privilege of competing for the presidency, but most Americans inevitably saw their champion vanquished.

When the smoke faded, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two least likable and most mistrusted candidates were left to stand for election. The obvious conclusion is that this election cycle the people want a warrior in the White House.

Hillary is all that. Asked at the conclusion of the second debate to name something admirable about his opponent, Mr. Trump said: “I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that.” Coming from a man who would rather pay bills than compliments, that’s quite a tribute. On the other hand, pit bulls are notorious for not quitting and not giving up, too, but nobody wants one around the children.

The Donald, a political novice with no respect for rank, showed himself to be a bare-knuckles saloon brawler who knocked out distinguished governors, senators, a Fortune 500 CEO and a world-renowned surgeon to get the face-off with Hillary. She may be loathe to admit it — she prefers to dismiss him as a racist and an ignoramus — but she faces an equal. He has parried every blow that Hillary threw at him.

They come to the election from very different perspectives. He believes in the rightness of his cause just as she embraces the “leftness” of hers. It’s the duty now to decide which is the right course for the country we all love.

On the eve of the election of 1980, Ronald Reagan spoke to a similarly pivotal moment: “The election will be over soon, autumn will become winter, this year will fade into the next,” he said, “and yet, the decisions we make tomorrow will determine our country’s course through what promises to be one of the most perilous decades in our history.”

He recalled the admonition of one Joseph Warren, a Boston physician, spoken just before losing his life defending the infant nation at Bunker Hill, and his words speak to us today in eloquent voice: “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. On you depend the fortunes of America — you are to decide the important question, on which rests the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

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