Celebrating the Vote: A Different Approach to Securing a Democratic Future in the United States


As Independence Day approaches, the powerful language of the Declaration of Independence from our ancestors reminds us that “we commit our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to one another”. As citizens, we can do much more to honor this commitment, with our civic responsibility to vote at the top of the list.

Americans must do more to honor and celebrate the vote. When we vote, we come together as a community of equals, feeling and implementing our deepest connections to each other and to a common future.

We are proposing to institute several holidays and voting celebrations to strengthen our engagement, including a national holiday with public gatherings and celebrations as well as ceremonies throughout the year. National Election Day would also be a way to celebrate and honor new voters, including immigrants and 18-year-olds voting for the first time. Voting can be experienced as what Robert Bellah called civil religion – the values, stories, heroes, objects, memories that Americans hold sacred.

Let us experience this moment of democratic participation and power as an intercultural and egalitarian community that shares a sacred and patriotic commitment in favor of the right to vote for all.

Full and universal suffrage is the most important and defining characteristic of American society. The celebration of independence from a foreign monarchy, whose main characteristic was the absence of universal suffrage, must evolve towards a celebration of the right to vote for all. The rallying cry of our founders was: “No taxation without representation!

The history of the United States has been to honor and extend this original principle. July 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the inclusion of 18-year-olds in the voting process.

Whatever the political outcome of electoral legislation in the coming months in Washington, it is essential that we, the American people, find new ways to make voting a truly universal right and practice, thereby fulfilling an unsuccessful dream. started only in 1776 and that did not be fully realized. In the aftermath of the November 3, 2020 elections – as the country and the world awaited the outcome of votes in contested states that were being counted and recounted – a common refrain heard on popular TV news channels was: “This vote is sacred . “

The electoral process has repeatedly proven to be reliable, but it has also been attacked by an absurd number of recounts, harassment and intimidation from officials – Democrats and Republicans – at all levels. This bullying violates and undermines a core value and trust, and we must resist it with the opposite behavior. We must celebrate, honor and sanctify the voting process that is dear to us as Americans and which we all stand to lose.

On voting days and other times of the year, the national community of Americans comes together and stages a ritual that embodies the consent of the governed, a ritual that rationally but also culturally integrates all citizens into that consent. By doing this one act of voting together, we project ourselves into a common future and we also imagine ourselves in a common past.

We are becoming a community – turbulent, but a – e pluribus unum. Now is the time for us to use our creative skills across all of our divisions to secure an American future in which the vote is not a memory but a regular celebration and a hallmark of our common identity. It is the way to overcome dark periods in history and secure a brighter future.

Heidi Ravven is a professor of religious studies at Hamilton College and author of “The Self Beyond Itself: An Alternative History of Ethics, New Brain Sciences, and the Myth of Free Will»(La Nouvelle Presse, 2013). Marc Gopin is Professor James Laue and Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, Carter School, George Mason University, and author of the next Oxford book, “Compassionate Reasoning: Changing Your Mind to Change the World. “


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