Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Election Is Over. Now Comes the Hard Part.

As they say, it's all over but the shoutin'. The Election of 2008 is over. We have elected a new President. He happens to be black. If that bothers you, get over it. Let's move forward together.

I arrived at my assigned polling place, the gymnasium of the local elementary school, at 6:05 yesterday morning. The sight was daunting: the line began in the gym, snaked through the school hallways, came out the front door, crossed the parking lot, went to the main street, turned left, and continued on for almost four blocks. I wasn't sure if it was the line to vote or the line to pick up Honeybaked Hams for Christmas Eve. But although the line was long, the organization was superb - the line moved steadily, the monitors constantly prowled the line to make sure that people were in the right line for their precinct (we have two precincts voting in different rooms at the school), and as we got closer to the actual voting area, the monitors carefully watched the various registration tables and kept up steady announcements of which name letters could move forward (I was quite a way back in the line when they announced that "A through G" voters should move up, as no one was waiting at that table.

I presented my driver's license and voter's registration card to the registrar, who asked me to formally state my name and address. The Republican and Democratic poll monitors each scrutinized my documents (the Republican lady complimented me on my wardrobe, not that it helped), my name was crossed off the list, and I was given my voting authorization card. I took this card to the next table, where I was offered the choice of an optically-scannable paper ballot or the electronic voting machine...I opted for the machine, and was directed to the final line, from which I was guided to the next available device. When it was my turn, the poll worker activated the machine and stepped away, and I did my duty. The most important vote I may ever cast took less than a minute.

I was back at my car and on my way to work at 6:55, which I thought was pretty amazing considering the size of the crowd.

And this morning comes the news that we have elected the first black president. If this doesn't represent a clear break with the past, I'm not sure what does.

So what have we learned from the Election of 2008?

1. Americans will vote for the person they believe to be the better candidate, regardless of race. President-elect Obama couldn't have won without the support of voters of all races, creeds, and colors. Yes, there are die-hards out there who think the world is coming to an end because we've elected a black man. But their voices didn't carry the day, and are getting weaker all the time.

2. The amount of money spent on political campaigns is obscene. The money spent on hundreds of thousands of roadside signs alone would probably fund new books and supplies for a school district for a year.

3. Bumper sticker slogans still trump detailed discussion of policies. It's easy to stand in a crowd and shout "Yes we can!" It's a lot harder to stand in that crowd and ask "How do we?"

4. People can and do reject the politics of hate.

5. The cynical adage tells us to "be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." The American people have, for many reasons, decisively rejected the economic and political philosophies of the Republicans. Now the Democrats have an historic opportunity: they can either imitate the arrogance and slavish doctrinal adherence of the Republicans, or they can work with them to craft policies that will use the best of both liberal and conservative ideas to fix our many problems, rather than make them worse.

On this historic day, I wish President-elect Obama well. I think he is a good man with an opportunity to show that he can be a great man. It is up to him to rise to the occasion. It is up to the rest of us to support him.

I'm ready. Let's move confidently forward into a better future.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



John said...

"I'm ready. Let's move confidently forward into a better future."

Me too!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I actually feel proud to call myself an American today. And I can't wait to see the puppy they will be bringing to the white house :)

KKTSews said...

While it seems like the amount of money spent on an election is absurd, I was appalled to see an Op-Ed in the WSJ note that the two candidates this year spent less on the election than the American population spends annually on POTATO CHIPS.
I'm just glad it looks like there was a record turn out. I waited over an hour, arriving at 6:25am, but the line was only 100 ft long at the local school. Obviously, Ohioans either crowd together closer than Virginians, or we're slow in the morning!

Amanda said...

Bilbo, your rants throughout the year about American politics and these elections were actually really informative for me. Thank you.

Mike said...

Let's start now.

2012 Bilbo for president!!!!

fiona said...

I'm with Amanda!
Mike could be your running mate Bilbo!

Vei said...

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GreenCanary said...

I didn't need to present ANY form of identification. Is that odd?

Bilbo said...

John - I'm with ya!

Andrea - I'm waiting to see the puppy, too.

Katherine - I'm not making any comments about slow Ohioans. But the point about potato chips is really scary.

Amanda - thanks for the compliment! Look at it as payback for keeping me posted on life in Australia and Indonesia.

Mike - I don't think I want to run for President in 2012. I'm going to skip President and run for Czar. Agnes can be the Czarina. And my grandchildren can be the Czardines.

Fiona - Good thought, but I have a feeling that there's not enough time until 2012 to get Mike vetted.

vei - e-mail me and we'll talk!

Canary - that doesn't surprise me. They probably recognized your nostril from the picture in your blog. ;-)

lacegem said...

I'm glad to hear that just like most Americans you are moving forward as well. I hate to say it, but there are others out there who really do not have confidence in president elect Obama. For instance let me refer you John C. Dvorak's article in Market Watch, titled "How to Obama-proof your portfolio" I just learned of this article from one of my co-wrokers in the office. I was shocked! I must be naive or something. anyhow if you could read it, you might find his artcle if not interesting, amusing perhaps? With regards to my polling experience this year, it was the worse one so far! I waited in line for 2 hours. I came to find out that the woman in charge of our line somehow didn't get the memo to show up in the retard line. Honestly, she didn't know how to look for last names using the Dewey Decimal system. She was looking for it one name at a time. I almost called the lawyer from the ACLU because when I presented her with my military ID card, she didn't think it was acceptable & was looking for another form of ID. Thank goodness common sense intervened & the other person verified that I'm good to go. That sort of idiotic stuff didn't stop me from casting my vote. I did my civic duty & I accepted the outcome. Let's get things started.

Mike said...

Don't you just love the new spam blogs out there? The Vei blog is similar to one I've gotten recently. Mine was from India.

Melissa B. said...

Some of us who are old enough to remember Willie Horton and the Election of '88 were talking today. Voters are so much more informed now than they were then. But Johnny Mac still insisted on running a "Divide & Conquer" campaign. I think he didn't recognize this as the wrong strategy until it was too late. I have to say that I had a little extra Pep in my Step this a.m.

twinkie said...

the past year I've:
lost my job
lost thousands in the stock market
traded down to a smaller car because of gas prices
changed our family's eating habits because of grocery prices.

I don't there's much Obama can screw up at this point. I'm looking forward to next year where we might actually be able to eat steak again instead of hamburgers.

*I may or may not have possibly emelished some facts to prove a point.

What point? I dunno... at this point I think I'm just rambling.