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Like many other UR students, last Tuesday was the first time I voted in a presidential election. Regardless of your political affiliation, Election Day should be a reminder to all of us of how blessed we are to live under the democratic mechanism that exists in the United States.
This was also the first year that I have been actively involved in campaigning, making myself knowledgeable and taking a passionate position during the general election process. Never have I been more proud to be an American.
As I witnessed firsthand on several occasions, both parties campaigned fervently and donated countless hours and resources to spreading the word about their respective causes throughout the past few months, not just in the presidential campaigns, but also in congressional and local races throughout the country. And in the end, after massive efforts on both sides, all that was left was for everyone to gather around the nearest televisions and computers, anxiously awaiting the results and letting the American people speak. And speak they did.
Not only was President Barack Obama re-elected to what will hopefully be a prosperous and successful second term, but voters also made history in several states, legalizing same-sex marriage in three states for the first time, electing the first openly-gay senator in Wisconsin, making recreational use of marijuana legal in two states and sending a record 20 women to the Senate. Undoubtedly, America is changing — it is becoming less conservative and more accepting toward people of different colors, creeds and views.
On election night, I had the great fortune of being in downtown Rochester at the Monroe County Democratic Committee watch party (thanks to a fellow member of the UR College Democrats) where candidates such as Representative Louise Slaughter were present to await the day’s results. The moment when cheers of “four more years!” erupted as news coverage announced Obama’s win and some broke into tears of joy,  will stick with me forever. That night was certainly something special, as America vested its hopes of moving the country forward in a man representing so much more than a political party.
Governor Mitt Romney ran a very respectable campaign, but 2012 proved to be a year in which Americans showed that the country has truly undergone substantial social change, and that the GOP can no longer rely on the white male vote to win the White House. And because of the Electoral College system that we utilize (a system that of course is not perfect, but is effective) and because of the vast diversity in America, candidates have to appeal to as many voters as possible. Romney came up short this time, but fought valiantly and conceded the victory to Obama with true class.
This is why I love American politics; one could argue that no other country transfers power of leadership quite as peacefully and fairly as the U.S. In the end, as a first-time voter, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed this election year and witnessing people unite in so many ways to achieve a common goal. I look forward to the next four years.
Livingston is a member of the class of 2016.

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