Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Not Like Any Other Day

I've voted every year since I was 18. I've always viewed it as my duty and I was proud to cast every ballot. Often, I was not inspired by my choices and I've chosen not to cast a vote for president since 1996. (I voted, just not for that office. Imagine if 240 million out of 250 million votes chose a candidate for dog catcher or probate judge but not president. Think they'd pay attention then?)

I was dreading the vote. Long lines, a new voting system in my home state, God knows the polling place would be hot, or, cold or smelly. Who knew would be outside the polling place telling me how to think, or why.

But as soon as I got there, I knew this was a different day. There was an energy I've never felt. I'm good with words but I couldn't describe it. But I had goose bumps as soon as I pulled into the polling place.

I helped make history today. As you know, I voted for Senator Obama; yet I don't believe Senator McCain is a bad choice (without getting into 'what ifs'). Either way we make history today. A black man for president. A woman as vice president. A good friend of mine called it "a revolution" and I can't agree more.

But I think it's a revolution of a different kind. I think we, as a nation, fought to get our voice back today.

We voted against apathy. We voted for greatness (both men can be described as great, I believe). We voted for a higher standard and a new country.

Now I'm not the weepy liberal you might think. I am unaffiliated because neither party represents me, and I voted for Republicans in other races today.

This is why I feel what I feel today: When I was leaving the polling place and was about two feet from my car, I noticed an elderly black woman, maybe 90 years old, struggling to make her way up the slight slope to the doorway. I went over to her and took her arm and offered my help for the last 30 feet.

When we got to the table, I told her "God Bless You. Enjoy this day."

The only words she spoke were "thank you," which she said three different times despite being slightly out of breath.

But her eyes said it all. Having a black man on the ballot, her eyes told me, was an indescribable pride that I will probably never know. She might even be a Republican for all I know.

But the ability to vote AGAINST a black man would mean the world to her too.

Here we were, a 36-year-old white man and a 90-year-old woman standing in a Presbyterian church to cast our ballots in an incredibly important election. This might be the only way we would ever be in the same place at the same time. In that moment, we understood each other as if we had known each other our whole lives (okay, my whole life!).

I hope -- win or lose -- we all feel the same way 4 years from now, 40 years from now --as we do today. And I hope you feel as I do.

So no matter who you're voting for today, please remember what a powerful tool we've been given. No matter what's happening we have the ultimate power. We have the ability to vote, or not vote, and to voice our opinions.

Let's keep them honest and remember how powerful our voice is, when we come together for what's important. Win or lose, let's come together and stay as active as we were today.

And if you didn't vote. You don't know what you're missing. It was one of the best days of my life.


Anonymous said...

As much as I hate waiting in lines, I was utterly thrilled to find a massive line at my polling place. Usually, I'm in-and-out in 5 minutes, 10 minutes at the most. Today was 45 minutes. There were loads of younger people and various minorites either not present or present only in small numbers.

I am thrilled that the voters are mobilized like hasn't happened % wise for 100 years.

Stamford Talk said...

What was your polling place, if you don't mind me asking? Just curious- I was at Rippowam today, but was at Waterside in the last election.

BigMaryCool said...

I didn't read this blog before posting mine, but you summed it up perfectly (except the part about the 90 year old lady...nice job, bro!)

We are so lucky to have the power of the polling place, win or lose, we are all winners when we participate in the process!

Mary Theresa Kiely said...

It is a proud day for America.

Rural Writer said...

This was a freaking awesome post. Thanks, PRman.

J. said...

Amen, brother. What a day. What a night. I am bleary eyed and brain dead from blogging live last night, but I wouldn't have missed this election for anything.

Great post, though disappointed you did not vote for President in 2000 and 2004, even if you didn't like the candidates.

TommyMac71 said...

A candidate should earn your vote not be the lesser of two evils....

Cee Bee said...

Amen, TommyMac!

Irene said...

I voted and then got on a plane for a 15 hour flight to Dubai, UAE. I had no idea who won until I landed. I haven't felt this proud to be an American abroad in oh about 8 years! Ding dong the ding dong is finally gone.