There wasn’t a queue, but I asked the nice gentleman at the table and he told me there were about a hundred people in line when they opened the polls this morning. That’s a lot, for my neighborhood. I hope turnout is as high around the nation as predicted, because I doubt most of those new voters were galvanized into civic action by McCain and Palin. This year, thankfully, there aren’t any top-billing, rally-cry hatist issues at work across the country, as conservative rage against gay marriage was in 2004.
Hopefully all will go well and by the books this time, with no pervasive GOP attempts to subvert or suppress the vote (for a change). In Michigan Obama is well ahead in the polls, so there’s not much danger of having to live in one of the embarrassing states, after this is over. Today I was able to vote for the first African-American President of the United States of America. This is a day I literally did not think I would live to enjoy, but I’ve very glad to be wrong. I’m man enough to admit it choked me up a little when I cast my ballot. Likely the lady who gave me my “I Voted!” sticker thought I was crazy, but what can you do?
Well beyond the proud racial milestone this election represents, the man himself is exactly the correct type of person we should always want to occupy the Oval Office: calm, deliberate, thoughtful, willing to listen to expertise, well traveled as a civilian, educated, appreciative of the Presidency as a responsibility and not a power trip, and able to make rational decisions based on evidence. Normally it would go without saying such traits should belong to a statesman, but in the last hideous eight years our nation has swung perilously close to the abyss because that simple criterion was abandoned. We briefly became the rock star, in the penultimate act of the docudrama, who dives into reckless ambition and loses their identity to destructive self-indulgence… until they bottom out, go to rehab, and pick themselves up to start anew. I hope we’ve taken that first step to recovery, today.
President Obama will make history simply by being who he is. I hope during the next four years, he and the Democrats in Congress can make more history by bringing our nation back from the teetering edge of tyranny, by undoing as many of W’s poisonous policies as they can, and by restoring our respect among the other nations of this planet. I hope the GOP can make history by cutting loose the parasite of religious extremism that has had it in thrall for the past 30 years, and start making its case for laissez faire economics using data and prudence instead of dogma and ideology. Up until now the GOP has based everything it has on hate, greed and fear. Hopefully this election will allow the kind of American renaissance we need to grow up as a nation and stop acting out the adolescent bully.
Either way, and no matter what happens over the next four (eight!) years, today is a pretty good day.