Election Day Hope and Fears
When asked the seemingly benign question, "What does this election mean to you?" I have trouble giving an uplifting answer. I'm sure a lot of voters ( 53? ) are able to use the words of Obama himself to respond, saying that it means "change we can believe in" or that it represents hope.
The fact that this election is historic is not lost on me. That our next president could be someone who in the not so distant American past would not have been able to vote demonstrates huge strides in seeing all men as truly created equal, in terms of race. That is an ideological victory not to be overlooked. And yet, when judging a man not by his race but by the content of his politics, there are so many other ideological issues that, if triumphant at today's polls, I cannot view as victorious. My lack of support for Obama does not mean that I do not want change; in fact, there are many things that I would like to see changed in this country very much. I want to even hold onto hope that the next president will bring these changes to the White House. But "change I can believe in" is not, quite frankly, what this election means to me.
In effort to get a more positive response to report on (and blogging ideas), I decided to ask my husband his thoughts on what this election means to him. This is, after all, the man who answered the question (posed by one of my seventh grade students) "Are you Republican or Democrat?" with a diplomatic, "I serve my country and my commander-in-chief, regardless of political party." He thoughtfully responded to my question by saying that for him the issue in this election has been one of who would do the least damage to the country. He says that the American people don't want to be at war anymore, and he can't say that he blames them - my husband has served two overseas tours, one in Iraq - but that in the process of desiring that change, he fears that we are crippling ourselves, robbing ourselves, blinding ourselves. His vote represents his desire to hold on to some of the rights that came with the founding of this country - earned prosperity, guns, individualism.
I too fear that we have blinded ourselves. America wants change, and it is clear that we are willing to overlook quite a bit in the name of that change. We are willing to overlook inexperience, radical ties, inconsistent positions , blatant media bias , unrealistic idealism, unprecedented campaign funds and spending, and the like (all issues independent of party platform positions themselves) for the Messiah, the One who says the things we want to hear. It is not unlike how people felt in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929; it was inevitable that Herbert Hoover and his party would not be welcome in the White House - although a recent History Channel program has given me the impression that history has given the man more of a bad rap than he deserves.
But there is still hope, even for Republicans like me. Obama will be faced with the reality of domestic and international issues currently challenging our nation when he takes the oath of office. He will have to adjust to the challenges, and not all of Obama's policies that I take issue with will come to fruition. We are fortunate to live in a democratic country where I have a voice and will again have a voice in four years, because we live free of dictators and despots. I have faith and hope that my opinion still matters.
Go figure - even for me, this election does come down to hope.
Don Ferris from Oceanside
November 04, 2008 at 10:54 PM
There may be many things we are willing to overlook, but one of them is NOT the past eight years - and those who are responsible for it (whether by bad leadership or their support thereof.) Thank goodness that the majority of Americans have seen through the lies. Saying you're a reformer does not make it so, especially when the voting record shows a history of deep, abiding support for the status quo and failed policies. Likewise, stating your support for our troops can not cover up an abysmal and well documented voting record of failing to support the troops and veterans. Hope? Yes, I am greatly encouraged by the prospect of millions of Americans who have finally awakened from their stupor to take action to prevent four more years of horrible leadership. I am thrilled to see that dirty, deceptive politics and despicable, abjectly false accusations were unable to hoodwink most people. Sadly, though, many people do believe the lies, and this makes me fearful, not hopeful. I fear that we are a nation deeply and profoundly divided. A nation in which children are denied Halloween treats based on their parents' support of a candidate... is this what America has become?
Mary Alvares from La Mesa
November 05, 2008 at 12:27 AM
This historical election brings back a memory of when I was a little girl at the age of 9 years old. My elementary school announced that we were all to go straight home, that the school was closing. As I walked down 42nd street in San Diego, people in their vehicles were stopped in the middle of the street crying. People where in their front doorways and lawns crying. I was sadden as tears started running down my face and I didn't know why I was sad. As I approached my house I could see my mother and father crying. I ran to my mother and hugged her ever so tightly and aske her what's wrong? and why was she crying. As she took me inside and she and my father sat me on the sofa, my mother said a great person has died. I asked her who? She said our president(JFK). That happened November 1963, I am know a 54 year old women. Thew the years I underrstood how very important it is for all of us to be heard, for this is was what this great president was all about. Equality for all. I have not felt such an overwhelming since of responsiblity threw many years of voting. I rock'd my vote this year.
Ben Grage from San Diego
November 06, 2008 at 06:03 AM
Jessica: Since you admit you are a Republican, I am surprised that you question John McCain so much. He led the charge into Iraq , voted for the war, and was all in favor of the "surge". We had 132 to 135,000 troops in Iraq pre-surge and we have 150,000 now. His radical ties to Charles Keating and the federal bailout of savings and loans in the early 90's only cost the taxpayers several hundred billion dollars. His radical ties to G. Gordon Liddy, a convicted felon, should not be held against him. After all, G. Gordon Liddy converted to Christianity and all has been forgiven. His radical ties to Senator Ted Stevens, a convicted felon, should again not be held against him. After all, Barack Obama is also a senator in that institution, and even though he has been a senator for only a few years and does not cross the aisle very often (he is a Democrat), he also has had contacts with Ted Stevens. John McCain has changed many positions over the years, but he has only done it to get elected to the presidency. After all, he had to support George W. Bush approximately 90% of the time just to get the nomination. You complain about the blatant media bias. I assume you are complaining about Fox News being the Republican news source or the fact that talk radio is approximately 95% in favor of the the Republican candidates and their policies. This is democracy at work! You also complain about John McCain's "unrealistic idealism". If one of a candidate's platforms is to remain in Iraq for 100 years so that democracy grows roots, that idealism should be praised, not ridiculed. You also unfairly complain about John McCain's "campaign funds and spending". Usually it is true that the Republican candidates usually get much more campaign contributions than Democrats, but that is universally not the case this year. Barack Obama has spent a great deal more than John McCain this year, but then the Republicans argument has always been that campaign funding is equivalent to free speech. Is Senator McCain opposed to free speech?
November 06, 2008 at 06:43 AM
Hello Ben, I was referring to Obama when making those comments, not McCain. Best, Jessica
Ben Grage from San Diego
November 07, 2008 at 06:18 AM
Jessica: I knew you were referring to Obama. I have heard some right-wing conservatives who believe that Obama is a Muslim (how can you believe in the Jeremy Wright controversy and still believe Obama is a Muslim?). I have also spoken with some right-wing conservatives who believe that Obama is a terrorist. It is little wonder that those of us to the left of McCain believe that all right-wing conservatives are completely wacko!!! Should Obama be assassinated (which is a strong possibllity), all right-wing conservatives bear some of the blame (just as George W. Bush is personally responsible for the thousands of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan). Ben
November 07, 2008 at 07:12 PM
Hi Ben, I'm about to say something shocking. With a degree in Middle Eastern Studies (emphasis in Islam), knowledge of Arabic (I wouldn't dare claim fluency but I can read and write it, and would understand a lot more if I kept it up after college), and a love for that part of the world and that culture - I'm not sure I would mind if Obama WERE Muslim, Middle Eastern or otherwise (so long as he were one of the majority of Muslims, who of course do NOT support terrorism). Of course, the Muslim rumors were used against him, because it was assumed (and correctly so) that this country wouldn't elect a Muslim president. That being said, I see Obama as neither a Muslim or a terrorist - just a man, whose policies in the Illinois and U.S. senates I have found unlikeable. I have also found his associations questionable; however, I don't actually believe that he would want to bomb a government building (like Ayers) or damn American (like Wright). Such statements are pretty ridiculous. We are all entitled to disagree with someone's politics, whether he is a presidential candidate or the president himself. I will not stop criticism of Obama just because he will be my president; however, I respect the office and will respect him as my leader, and I wish him no ill will as he does the challenging job of leading this country during trying times. I sincerely hope I have less to criticize, but even if I don't, I would no more want his assassination than I am assuming you would want President Bush's assassination. Wanting the democratic process to go your way and put someone else in power (for me, in four years unless Obama changes his politics and I become his biggest fan) is quite different than wanting harm to come to someone. I want Obama to succeed. It is dangerous to generalize about a group of people (even "right-wingers") to an individual unless you know that individual. I am a Republican for a variety of reasons but have often been intrigued by the heart behind policies of other parties, even tempted to change my party for this very reason. However, many Republican positions still represent my own, even if the people don't always represent me personally. I don't believe McCain ever claimed Obama to be a Muslim or a terrorist; McCain was not my choice in the primaries but I respect his representation of the Republican Party nonetheless even if I don't always agree. (It would be weird, and impossible given diversity of opinion within the party, to agree 100% with every Republican out there.) I sincerely hope you are wrong, and that Obama does not stand a high likelihood of being assassinated. Not only would that be a hateful crime (the destruction of a human life) that would bring tragedy to his little girls and the rest of his family, but it would be a crime against our nation and therefore in some ways, all of us. Obama needs to bring this country together; the last thing we need is someone to further tear it apart. Assumptions have been made about me because of my party affiliation and some of the things I have written on Citizen Voices. However, I hope that all of my posts have been fair and well-researched, indicative of my politics but not indicative of any hatred for those who disagree. In my non-blogging life, I strive to be a peacemaker among those who disagree, usually able to see the good heart and passion behind both sides. Best, Jessica