Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day 2008, finally!

Well, this is it. After this wild and wacky, interminable election season of Tina Fey and Joe the Plumber, it all comes down to today. It's been a fascinating, discouraging, maddening and exhilarating ride. If my friends' Facebook statuses are any indication, my friends' presidential preferences seem to reflect national polling percentages. I have friends that are far more conservative than me and far more liberal than me, so it's been interesting to watch the dueling Facebook statuses and the links they've posted to a whole range of articles and YouTube videos. (My favorite this year: this one. Very clever, and quite amusing even if you disagree with the position.)

As recently as mid-September, I was genuinely undecided and ambivalent about whether even to vote. What surprised me was that as I engaged in discussion and conversation with various friends, I found myself being pushed out of my indecision and toward a commitment. I could not sit on the fence indefinitely. That's the democratic process at work, apparently. 

(BTW, this year I've been particularly annoyed at the negative campaigning. And I have to say that some of my more partisan friends, in sending me various negative links, actually pushed me toward the other candidate because it seemed that they had nothing positive to say about their own candidate.)

One key concern I have this election day is whether the President-Elect will be able to bring the country together and work with people who voted the other way. I'm encouraged that Obama has the support of folks like Colin Powell, and that McCain has the support of folks like Joe Lieberman. Whoever wins, the reality is that the new president will have to govern from the center. So I am hopeful that the new administration will include independents and people from both parties in key positions.

During the primaries, at one point I thought it would have been great to have an Obama/Huckabee or Huckabee/Obama ticket and have the best of both of them. What if we had just quit the campaign after the primaries and declared a copresidency between both parties' nominees? Think of the hundreds of millions of campaign dollars that would have been saved and could have been used more constructively elsewhere. I think it would be interesting to have a coalition government where conservatives and liberals share power and need to work together to govern. Families and churches need to learn to live with people who disagree with each other; why not the presidency itself? 

But alas, that's not how our system is set up. So last week, on the last day of early voting for Illinois, I stood in line and voted early. I'm one of the formerly disillusioned that sat out of the 2004 election because I could not bring myself to vote for either candidate that year. So it says something about this national moment that I was drawn back in to not merely vote out of duty or obligation, but genuine interest and civic concern.

So go ahead and vote. (Unless you determine that you cannot in good conscience vote this year. I think it's okay to not vote as an act of protest.) Whatever happens, pray for whoever wins, and for the common good of the country.

And if your candidate doesn't win tonight, don't get all bent out of shape. After all, in a few months the 2012 campaign will start up and we'll go through this all over again.


Foggy Blogger said...

Thanks for this post. I share your frustration, thus my most recent post. ;) Its nice to know im not the only one out there! Thanks for having the courage to share.

J. Reimer said...

"I think it would be interesting to have a coalition government where conservatives and liberals share power and need to work together to govern."

Is this not in fact exactly what we already have both within and between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches?

Al Hsu said...

Jeff - Yes, you're of course right. And I'm a big fan of our system of checks and balances. I just wonder what it would be like to have a Democratic president and a Republican vice president, or vice versa - I vaguely recall from high school history classes that this kind of situation actually happened early on in U.S. history. And Lincoln did something similar with his "team of rivals." So it would be interesting to have a bipartisan cabinet or something and see how that works.