This afternoon, millions of Americans turn out to cast their ballots and determine who will lead this country for the next four years. I have strong feelings about this election, and cast my vote for my candidate of choice this morning at around 8:45. I have, however kept those views off the pages of this blog because I do not want this to become a political platform, or a forum for airing partisan talking points.
However, I am writing today because I am troubled by the fact that a great many people on both sides seem to misunderstand the point of this election – along with, in fact, the entire election process.
Today, we are presented with two candidates who have diametrically opposing views on nature of economics, the proper road to national security, and the role of government in our lives. Millions of us have gone or will go to the polls to vote for the candidate who, we believe, has the greatest potential of advancing views that roughly resemble our own on these and other topics.
We will NOT go to the polls to cast a personal slight on those friends and acquaintances of ours who happen to disagree with us – or with our candidate. We will NOT be voting to undermine society as we know it, regardless of what those on the other side think. We will NOT be voting to enslave, silence, or otherwise disenfranchise those who disagree with us.
In short, THIS IS NOT PERSONAL. You who read this – each of you – have people you love and care about, who will vote in a way you believe to be foolish and misguided. Get over it. Love and care about them anyway.
For a bit of perspective, consider a few election predictions of mine. On this Election Day 2008, I predict:
1. A man who has made politics his life mission will become the new President-elect with something roughly approximating 50% of the popular vote.
2. Approximately 50% of the country will also vote against him.
3. He will give a gracious victory speech congratulating his opponent on a well-run race, and reiterating many of the things he has promised us during the course of this campaign. Parts of his speech will even be sincere.
4. Some of the things he has promised will be accomplished in the next four years. Some will not.
5. We will be told by the losing side that operatives on the winning side committed fraud in various locations throughout the country. They will be right in some instances and wrong in others.
6. We will be told by pundits in the news media and the political elite that this result was inevitable from day one of the campaign, and that they saw it coming the entire time. These assertions will contradict other, equally emphatic statements they made in recent months.
7. We will be told by other pundits that this election is a disaster for the losing party, and the country as a whole. They will be wrong in both cases.
8. The party that loses will regroup, blame their loss on poor marketing and messaging, and come back in four years with a candidate who may not look like the one running today, but who sounds awfully familiar.
9. The party that wins with the support of roughly half the voting public will proclaim a mandate, and will hold the election results up as proof that the American people are completely in support of their policies.
10. Those policies will necessitate more government spending than the winning candidate promised during the campaign, and he will try to get his hands on more of your money than he promised during the campaign, in order to pay for them.
11. Over the next four years, the government, as a whole, will get bigger.
12. Over the next four years, many new laws will be made. You will approve of some, and disapprove of others.
13. Two years from now, you will still believe that Congress as a whole is a bunch of corrupt criminals, but that your individual congressman is not all that bad, if not a pretty decent guy or gal.
14. Two years from now, the new President will NOT have abolished the opposition party, shut down the free press or abolished freedom of speech, expression or assembly. Millions of Americans will respond to this lack of oppression by going to the polls again and voting for their Congressman and/or Senator. Millions more will vote for some other guy who wants to be a Congressman and/or Senator. Still more millions will respond by doing nothing at all.
15. Some of your friends who voted for the other guy will accuse you of being an idiot, and will claim that you are part of everything that is wrong with this country. They will mostly be mistaken.
16. On Wednesday morning, the sun will rise. It will do so in the east.
These are my election predections, and they hold true whether the vote I cast earlier today was for the winner or the loser. So go exercise your right to vote – or, for that matter, exercise your right to go on about your day and stay as far away from the polls as you choose.
Whatever your choice, though, realize that the people next to you are just muddling through this journey we call “life,” in the best way they can – making choices just as you are – with an eye toward what they think is best for themselves, and occassionally what they think is best for you as well. Are there people who are trying to subvert this election and cheat their party’s way into power? Probably, and they probably exist on both sides. But elections in this country have been stolen before – even at the Presidential level – more than a few times. And guess what? Even with this flawed system, dependent on millions of flawed people, we Americans still live in one of the freest, most prosperous nations history has ever known.
Regardless of who wins tomorrow, that is not likely to change during the course of – or as a result of – his administration.
So vote, or don’t vote, as you see fit.
But in the meantime, Chill out.