October 24, 2008
In just a little under two weeks I'll be standing in a voting booth in the local church casting my ballot in the 2008 Presidential Election. I will exercise my franchise as a citizen of the United States. That I live in Kansas, a solidly "red" state, making my vote for Barack Obama largely symbolic, matters little to me. I firmly believe that if you don't vote you can't later complain about the administration.
But what if you can't vote?
There are three people who will figuratively be with me in that booth on November 4th, Michele, Vera, and Sibylle. Michele was devastated by the election of George W. Bush to President in 2000. The whole ballot mess in Florida, and the intervention of the Supreme Court left a very bad taste in her mouth. His reelection in 2004 added to her dismay with American politics. The only bright spot in the 2004 election process was the speech by a relatively unknown politician from Illinois, Barack Obama. She was electrified by his speech.
She would have both enjoyed and hated the months leading up to the 2008 election. Having both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as potential candidates would have thrilled her. In 2000 she was very outspoken about the underhanded "Rovian" tactics that smeared John McCain so badly. To see him now using similar tactics, often through the same political operatives, would have infuriated her greatly. Michele didn't do suspense well at times - the constantly shifting poles would have been difficult for her to bear. The attacks on Barack Obama's character and past associations would have convinced her that the lowest common fears would once again "rig" the election for the Republicans. Until the last vote was certified and Barack Obama had won, she would be convinced that we were doomed for another four years of a Republican administration.
She would have gleefully voted for Barack Obama.
Vera, my sister-in-something, as a German citizen living in this country cannot vote. Her choice of candidate has changed as she has read and learned more about the candidates. In the early going she was supporting John McCain, but in light of his campaign antics, and some less than flattering articles, she has shifted her support solidly to Barack Obama.
Sibylle, my fiancée, is also a German citizen living in the United States, and is also precluded from casting a ballot. She, like me, favors Barack Obama over John McCain. His dismissive attitude toward women's health and on-going commitment to staying in Iraq do not sit well with her. Were she able to, she would cast her ballot for Barack Obama.
I, like Michele, was energized by Barack Obama's speech in 2004. I have followed his campaign with interest and hope since he announced his candidacy. I have read his position statements and agree largely with his stated approached to the issues facing America and the world. What I like best about him is that throughout his campaign he hasn't strayed from his positions, hasn't overreacted to slurs and accusations. If past performance is the best predictor of future actions, then his calm, focused, intelligent, rational, and humanist approach to his campaign and all the trials and tribulations it brought, tells me that he is the best person to be President of the United States for the next four years.
While I can only cast one vote on November 4th, I feel honored that I can count three others as supporting my action, and hopefully realizing the benefits the promise of Barack Obama brings.