Safe and sound

Election Day 2012 is over. For most, it's at the very least a sigh of relief. Like so many other facets of our uniquely American culture, though, sometimes we forget just how good we have it.

Yes, we bickered over policy and direction. Yes, we played "who can influence most" with Democrats employing voter-registration drives and Republicans implementing voter-ID laws.

Yes, some of us even developed a distinct disdain not only for the political chieftain running for this office or that, but also for our neighbor we learned was supporting our choice's opponent.

Yes, there was bad blood in the election of 2012.

But ... there was no blood.

While it might seem too obvious to say, that's certainly not the case everywhere.

Beginning a couple of days after Christmas 2007 and seeping into 2008, more than 1,500 Kenyans were killed in post-election riots. More than 600,000 eventually were displaced by violence that swept over the country when accusations of manipulation surfaced.

In 2009, blood filled the streets of Tehran resulting in more than 150 deaths. Again, allegations of impropriety sparked the fighting.

As our troops continue to come home from Afghanistan, that nation too has a history of deadly election fallout. Politicians' homes were attacked by rockets in both 2004 and 2009 after a combination of the belief of rigged elections and growing anti-West sentiment.

America has not been immune. Post-Civil War elections pitted angry whites falling upon African-Americans, and immigrants faced often-extreme violence during elections in the late 19th and early 20th century.

We have evolved favorably as a nation since. Today, we might become enraged and call for reform when we hear some are denied their right to vote because they forgot their drivers license -- or that others faced intimidation from members of the New Black Panthers at Philadelphia polling places.

Problem-free? Of course not. Without controversy? Never.

But safe? Thankfully, the answer is yes.

So as we dissect the numbers that led to the re-election of Barack Obama and begin to hear the stories waft in about irregularities or polling problems, let us pause.

Nowhere in this great nation was someone forced to die for their beliefs. No American faced mortal danger because they cast a ballot. And no American should forget that, although we might become divided by schisms of party or policy, we remain a nation united in cause, values and decency.

Sometimes our sheer good fortune to call this place our home is too easily forgotten. We applaud even the most ardent partisan for acting responsibly before, during and after this bitter election cycle.

It's no surprise we came through Tuesday unscathed -- but that shouldn't mean it should go without mention.

It's just one more reason to be proud to be an American.

Editorial by Ron Fields

rfields@dailynews.net