American voters have turned out in record numbers today, a remarkable testament to the general desire for change in our political leadership, one that will hopefully leading to positive change in the country’s fortunes both literally and symbolically. I’ve been voting in presidential elections since 1976, and I’ve never seen enthusiasm such as this.
It’s too bad things had to get so bad before people realized the value of enfranchisement – of being able to cast a ballot and have a voice in the leaders of our democracy. I hope I’m not naive in believing that my vote matters, and I don’t mind admitting to chills down my spine as I wait to see which candidate will be the winner in my home state.
I’ve joked to my friends and family that I’ll be moving across the southern border to Canada should the Repulican ticket once again take the election.
“What do you think?” I asked my husband as we were clearing up the kitchen after dinner. “Will we be popping the cork on that bottle of champange in the fridge tonight, or will I be packing my suitcase and hunting up my passport?”
“Champage?” he asked eagerly. “I didn’t know we had champagne!”
So much for his concern about our future.
Seriously, even in our house where politics generally gets short shrift, the two of us (united in our choice for the first time ever!) have been following this race with much more than our usual lackadaisical cynicism.
As a little girl, I went through a period of fascination with Abraham Lincoln, most likely because he was born only a few miles from my mother’s hometown, and we drove right past the Lincoln birthplace on the way to visit all my southern aunts, uncles, and cousins. I collected books about Lincoln for years, and even now have my own private “Lincoln library” of biographies, pictoral histories, and other memorabilia, all gaterhing dust in my mother’s basement.
Certainly Lincoln’s Presidency was fraught with crises – the country was divided against itself in ways none of us can even imagine. Whenever I think that things are bad now, recalling how horrible those days must have been puts it in a different perspective. Lincoln was not a political player in those days, he wasn’t rich or well educated, he didn’t move in circles with the movers and shakers. He was mostly a simple, self-taught man, with firm values and beliefs in the dignity of all humanity.
There is no doubt we need a leader with courage, wisdom, and most of all, one who inspires great, almost mystical respect from his fellow citizens and from people all over the world.
I think that man is Barack Obama.
So I joined the lines of people voting today – voting for change, for hope in the future, and for a man who children will some day want to read about and be proud to say he was their leader.