Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reflections on the Election, Part I

So here we are at last.

This morning I woke up at around 7am - those of you who know me know it takes something earth-shattering to get me up before 9am, as I usually don't go to bed until around 1am. I trundled down to my local polling place - a protestant church (an interesting aside - where is "separation of church and state" on election day?) and waited 45 minutes to cast my ballot.

Curiously enough, in Kansas you are asked whether such and such a judge should remain in office. There's like 20 of these. I had to abstain from all of those because I didn't know anything about them.

The elected offices - well, apart from very happily picking a 3rd party candidate, for the 2nd election in a row, I also voted for 2 of 3 people who had robocalled both my office and my cell in the last 4 days. I resent being robocalled, and I realized my Rotary Club must have given my name out because they are one of the few places where both my office and my cell are in one database. I really try to restrict distribution of my cell number. I wish I could have pushed some button during the robocall that asked "Push here if you're already voting for me and want me to shut up."

I had cable installed for my election party tonight. There should be all sorts there - Obama people, McCain people, 3rd party people, even some apolitical people. I'll get the cable uninstalled tomorrow, which should be Senator Obama's first full day as President-Elect.

Five things I'm thinking about between now and 5pm, when my party kicks off and I will abandon school and work to watch a television for 6 hours:

1. I can't believe it's finally over. For all the ballyhooing about how long this election has been running, I'm so glad that a decision will finally be made. Mind you, it's not the best of choices - it might even be the worst of choices - but at least we will start talking about other things again.

2. I was dead wrong about blacks and women. My assistant recently held it over my head that nearly a year ago I said that our country was ready for neither a black man nor a woman (black or otherwise) as president. The legitimate runs of both of those candidates (who I heartily, heartily disagree with on 95% of the issues) proved otherwise.

That being said, there are racist people who are making a decision based on the color of skin solely (I do not have time in this blog post to discuss the very real problems of Jeremiah Wright and his attitude vis-a-vis America and "black America" - but they are problematic and reflect on a long-term parishioner like Obama. I am simply making the point that some people aren't investigating ideology. They are just fearful of a black man ruling the country.).

And there are religious fanatics who think any shade of protestant is acceptable for ruling a country but the idea of a Mormon or a Muslim being in charge is reason enough to stock your pantry and buy ammunition (I had one of my political science professors, who I respect greatly, tell me that he thinks Obama is a Muslim plant of sorts. I was speechless.).

3. I am not "scared" about an Obama election and I can't understand why someone else would be. We've just made it through (arguably) the worst 2 terms a President has ever served. Yes, Obama might be worse, but the American people are stronger than one man. One man, even the US President, does not really, in detail, determine how my daily life runs. And while I know we are a lazy, complacent nation, I have at least a reasonable hope that we will stir when confronted with some socialist scam. Yes, it's likely Obama will hit the very wealthy, and I wish I had something meaningful to say about that other than to regret it. I didn't choose this man, nor did I vote for him. The American people were forced into voting for him because of 8 years of reckless Republican governance that remembered to always cut taxes but NEVER CUT SPENDING. Four years is not forever. And now the mantle of governance will be on his shoulders, and Hope must meet it's long courted companion: Action. We shall see.

4. The youth vote, as I have said for the last year, as someone who is not only a university student but someone who has been teaching teenagers for almost a decade now and has never seen excitement about politics has been seen in the last 10 months, is going to turn out in droves. For once, the over-important, pandered-to votes of seniors will be counterbalanced by votes of some other seniors, of the high-school and college variety. Let's see how the pundits respond. As of this moment, my Facebook ticker reads: 2,429,958. That's the number of Facebookers who have voted so far today. And that's just a slice of my under-30 demographic.

5. If Pennsylvania and Florida go to McCain, it will be a long night. If he loses both, it will be short, and we might relive 1980, where the concession speech occurred before 9pm EST.

More tonight, after the returns.

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