One of the loose set of rules I try to stick with when thinking of topics to write about is a one many people have when trying to carry polite conversation: steer clear of religion and politics. It seems clear, however, that most of the world has put this rule on hold for the next several days, so I'm going to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about my thought process in the impending US elections.
I have never, in my twelve-year voting history, voted for a Democratic candidate for any office. I grew up in a conservative Christian home in central Ohio and lived most of my non-voting life under the Republican Presidencies of Ronald Regan and George Bush, operating under the assumption that the Republican party was, by definition, "The Good Guys." I remember at the end of Regan's second term, asking someone what the difference between the two parties was and being told, "Well, Republicans want to keep things the way they are, and the Democrats want to change things." As a ten-year old with a pretty good life, it seemed absurd to me that anyone would want to change anything! This kind of black-and-white thinking pretty much dominated my political thought process through college and into my early adult life.
I remember in 2000, participating in my first post-college election, watching the primaries and the build-up to the Republican nomination. I liked a lot of the things I heard John McCain say and, like a lot of people, was extremely disappointed by the way the Republican party seemed to rally behind Bush and push McCain to the sidelines. Fast forward eight years and see where we've come under the Republican party's pick: The PATRIOT Act. Illegal wiretaps. Katrina. Sanctioned torture. The death of habeas corpus. A military with out-of-control spending amidst a continued decline in support for education. But what I think has been most disappointing to see is the energizing Senator John McCain fall in line with the same party that threw him under the bus just eight short years ago. He's really back-peddled on a lot of the stances that made him stand out from the rest of the conservative crowd. But regardless of how McCain's politics have changed with his acceptance as the Republican party's candidate, I feel like voting Republican in this election more or less equates with a tacit vote of approval for what has been happening over the last two terms of Republican leadership.
Fortunately, however, I'm not forced to simply vote against one candidate this election; I have the opportunity to vote for a candidate that I feel will put this country back on track with well thought-out policies that will benefit us all. I'm voting for the candidate who has pledged to place the tax burden back where it belongs -- on the corporations. I'm voting for the candidate who thinks that everyone should have the opportunity to take part in a health care plan that the well-employed take for granted. I'm voting for the candidate who has a stated plan for finishing the war in Iraq.
Over the past several months, Barack Obama has shown conclusively that he has what it takes to keep a level head in the face of pressure. He has consistently proven himself, first in the Democratic primaries, and again in the general election. He has had every smear in the book thrown at him and come out clean on the other side. He has already managed to bring together a large cross-section of America, from the far-left liberals to small-town union workers to members of Bush's own administration. Is Barack Obama perfect? Of course not. But he has the vision and the support that America needs right now to move forward and repair the damage that has been done to our country, both within our borders and in our relations with the world's nations.
I hope you'll join me in voting for Barack Obama tomorrow, but regardless of your choice I want to encourage you to go out and vote tomorrow. There has been a lot of talk about polls, but unless you actually take the time to go out and vote, the polls mean nothing. Don't assume that this thing has already been decided, even if youre state appears to be in overwhelming support of one particular candidate. This is our chance to speak our mind. This is what the last 18 months have been all about.