It would be nice to believe that people of conscience will go out and vote and those votes will determine the course of our nation for the next four years. Unfortunately there is nothing in my experience to suggest that this election will be any different then all the previous ones.
Both parties will do whatever they think they can get away with, whether it is bussing largely illiterate migrants to a polling place where voter identification and certification are not required, or attempting to limit a legitimate citizen’s rights to vote. This is not new, but perhaps it is just more public than in the past. The practice does appear to be expanding out from the major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to the smaller cities or suburban places like Ohio and North Carolina.
Of course, those in control will always seek to find ways to maintain that position, and the South has a long history of finding ways to limit voting to those who will maintain the status quo.
The real question, the one critical to this nation, is what paths will political debate, and policies take for the next four years?
After the 2000 election the Democratic Party and its core supporters began a process of delegitimizing the election since the margin of victory was so small and it came down to a fierce debate over the credibility of the Florida vote count. That sense that they were robbed of the election carried over for the next eight years, as they made personal attacks on the President and Vice President a popular modus operandi for setting the tone of politics in Washington.
This, of course, began to polarize the Republicans as they continued an US versus THEM mindset. In November of 2008, I wrote this post And Then There was One where I wondered if we would be able to come together as a nation and hoped that the Democrats would learn to govern, not just run to their extreme positions. My closing thought:
“I hope Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden remain true to themselves and remember they serve for the common good. I hope our nation supports their efforts toward that end, and lets them know when they go astray. Now, as in 1932, we are electing a President to save us from our excesses, hopefully they are up to the challenge.”
Unfortunately for us as a nation, they did not seek a middle ground. They did not work to find cooperation with the opposition, they did not govern, they chose to dominate the debate and have everything their way. This ultimately led to loss of the House in 2010. Their choices have doubled the national debt, and made questionable the financial security of not only my generation, but also my children’s and grandchildren’s. Rather than find a way to unite our country as one people, they have chosen to focus resentment between the rich and the poor. They have levied new health care taxes on the middle class, and sought to impose the government's will on religion.
My hope for this election remains the same as it was in 2008, that whoever is elected will find a way to heal the nation, return us to fiscal reality, and sooth the wounds that fester and divide us. But perhaps that is too high a goal as the left and the right move further apart in their positions and the politicians bend towards the extremes.
I have made my choices. If you have not yet voted, I hope you choose wisely with eyes open -- understanding both the past and America's future as defined by the candidates.