You don’t need me to tell you that the last year and a half has been annoying, exciting, troubling, and stressful. Candidates have been campaigning full time for a long time now, and the blow by blow “news” coverage has left all of us weary.

We are tired of the false binary created by the American political system.

We are tired of the yelling. And the false indignation.

We are tired of the political stunts, the attack ads, and the wasted money—spilled like the blood of soldiers in a war—across the hyperbolically named battleground states.

We are tired of the constant polling, the ridiculous attention paid to demographics, and the army of fact checkers.

And what is the result? What has 2 billion dollars purchased us?

It has purchased a national conversation, however rancorous and infantile, about concerns of national importance.

It has purchased a political scrutiny, however constrained, of those who hold the reins of power.

And maybe this 2 billion dollar, year-and-a-half long, extended verbal gladiator contest that brings out the worst in so many people is better than the alternative.

There could be general apathy. And silence. And with silence comes the silenced and the silencers.

There could be unabated anger. And bubbling revolution. And with revolution comes riots and tear gas and the heavy hand of the state.

Because, in my mind, the greatest part of the election is not election day itself when people exercise their right to vote. The greatest day is that cold day in January when grown men and women lay aside their political differences and respect the will of the people. The peaceful transfer of power amazes me. No tanks. No coups. No assassinations. No UN peacekeepers. Just solemn, grave respect for the rule of law, order, and civil society.

And so, today, I am thankful to live in the United States—the oldest democracy in the world.

P.S. This post is part of the Thankful Tuesday series here on the blog, originally inspired by Micha Boyett.