Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What this election means

I confess to having a great, you might say sentimental, devotion to voting. I have voted in every election I've been eligible for, and that means I've voted for a long succession of losing presidential candidates. In fact, Clinton was the first winning candidate I ever voted for, and one of the votes I was least enthusiastic for.

Still, I love to vote. This year I'm more fervent about it than in most years, and the last few nights I've felt like a little kid before Christmas. It's not just me, though. I sense a greater excitement for this election than I ever have before.

I was in Boston the night Obama secured enough electoral votes to be the candidate. I was watching his speech in the basement of a building at Boston University with four or five maintenance workers, four of whom were African, one was Hispanic. These guys were totally into it. They knew the candidates, they knew their positions, they could talk knowledgeably about possible vice presidential and cabinet choices. They knew it was an important night.

But not as important as tomorrow.

When Barack Obama was born, black people were still legally prevented from voting in parts of the United States. During our lifetimes we've seen brave people beaten and killed trying to vote; and seen candidates elected not because of the strength of their policies, but because of their ability to exploit racial fears and hatred. Now, our country, a country that owes so much of its culture to the legacy of slavery, stands on the threshold of electing its first black president. Think of what that says to the rest of the world, but more importantly, think of what it says to millions of our own citizens, citizens who have been told their whole lives, in word and in deed, that they don't have a say in what happens to their country.

He'll make mistakes, and we'll presumably stay in the opposition to much of what he does. But the important thing is this:

Starting tomorrow, everything is different. Forever.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Tom McC said...

I have been a much more lackadaisical voter, although I've never missed a Presidential vote. But as I mentioned in an email to my brother Michael this morning, I have never been as excited to vote or as excited after having voted as I do this time. I even took a little extra time in the booth to make sure my vote appeared to be registering correctly. And in the several elections in which I've voted in this town, I've never seen such a turnout. In fact, I don't remember ever having to wait at all before, and while I didn't have to wait long, it seemed to me turnout, even before 7am, was very high.

I'm looking forward to watching what seems quite clearly to be a big Obama victory. I agree, he won't do everything we want, but this is an enormous milestone.

November 04, 2008 7:03 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

This election has been the first that I've paid much attention to. I wasn't old enough to vote for the last few, though I have vague memories of my father waiting up to hear the results (and his sigh of defeat afterwards).

I agree, this election means so much in so many different areas. In, I believe, unprecedented ways, young people are becoming interested in voting and the politics of this country. Women have begun to demand attention in politics, though I cannot say I am completely happy with the women representing us.

Somehow, though the past few years have been covered in mud, the country's democratic system is breaking through and feeling a little more clean. I know there is a lot more to work on, but it is a start.

Personally, I've been waiting for weeks to hear the result of my vote (absentee ballots come with lots of anxiety). I have become so emotionally involved in this election, I can't even think of the alternative to Barack Obama as president. hopefully, i won't have to.

November 04, 2008 4:05 PM  

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