In one more week, 168 hours, we’ll be watching the early returns. This awful election will finally be over, and we’ll begin to have a sense of what direction things may go in the next four years. But I can't help wondering, is the light at the end of the tunnel a train?
Each presidential election for the last couple of decades has grown more distressing to me. I can’t recall the last time I voted for a candidate because I thought he or she was well-suited for the job rather than voting for the lesser of two evils. That is more true this year than ever.
As I contemplate this election and the state of the nation, I feel a strong urge to record these thoughts and my general political history for posterity. I want future generations to know how troubling this campaign has been for me and why I don’t trust or believe either candidate; why each one scares me, for different reasons. I want them to know my views of the issues of the times.
I also want them to know about our family political history. As a child I learned to take politics quite seriously, and was excited about turning 21 and being old enough to vote. (Yes, I’m so old I couldn’t vote until I was old enough to drink!) My maternal grandmother was the first state president of the New Mexico Republican Women’s Club, and she served as a delegate to the National Convention in 1952 and 1956. I remember listening to all the sessions of the 1956 convention on the radio, hoping to hear her name if not her voice.
I aspired to follow in her footsteps, joining the Republican Women in Richland, Wash. in time for the 1972 campaign. Those were also turbulent years, as much on the local and state level as national. That was the year we were voting on the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington, and I was in the thick of that campaign. I stayed active in the Republican party for several years, but thenI overheard the county chairwoman confide to someone that although she attended services and occasionally donated money to one of the churches in town, “the Republican Party is my real church!” My hair stood on end, and that was the end of my active party involvement.
I prefer not to look too closely at the way the government runs today; the way deals are made, ears marked, barrels filled with pork, and “walking around money” buys votes for members of the double-size Pennsylvania legislature. When I think of those things, I am filled with despair. What can one person do?
One person can vote. I can vote for the least of the evils. I can talk to the incumbents between elections and make my views known. I can send e-mails. I can talk to friends, and I can stay informed. Yes, there is a lot I can do, and will be doing more of in coming years than past, and I want to leave a record of that, perhaps in story, certainly in my journal. And when I record these thoughts, I will be sure to note that although I may sound pessimistic, I am convinced that the future will indeed be brighter than it looks right now. Whichever candidate wins will surely make sweeping changes, and ultimately that can make way for good things to happen down the road.
Write now: grab your journal or sit down at your keyboard and write down your feelings about the 2008 presidential election. Who will you vote for? Why? How do you feel about this candidate? Have your political leanings changed over the years? Do you make an effort to stay informed, or make your choices based on headlines and friend’s recommendations?