Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hope and change

So, it's over for another four years...the campaigning, the craziness, and then the nailbiter well into the night. And we have four more years of Barack Obama. Who spent his first campaign talking about hope and change.

From the headline you might think I'm about to talk about Obama. I'm not. I'm personally glad Romney did not win - his economic policies resembled ones that have demonstrably failed in Europe, his social policies were borderline Dominionist and I personally think he would have been a foreign policy disaster. But I'm not talking about that.

I'm talking about my hopes for change in this country. I've been worried for a while about the state of this country. We have the Tea Party, which went from a movement to limit government to, as far as I can tell, a movement to limit other people's voting rights. Occupy put people on the streets. It's never a good sign when people take to the streets.

Yesterday people took to the streets again. Bizarrely, some media outlets are insisting turnout was down from 2008. I have no clue where they got their figures. Early voting in Florida saw lines of four to five days. In one precinct in New Jersey, where one would think turnout would have been slammed from the storm, they had more voters in the first hour than they had in the last primary...altogether. One county in Iowa recorded over 80% turnout.

As for me. In 2008, when everyone was going on about record turnout, I went to the polls at 10:30am and there were four people in line ahead of me.

Yesterday I went to the polls at about the same time. I got there at about 10:15am. I cast my ballot at about 1:15pm. Somebody, perhaps because of Sandy, had prepped paper ballots as a backup, or I would have been there even longer. (Thank you to the unknown people wearing no identifying buttons or clothing who were handing out water and chips. I have no clue who you are, but believe me, it was appreciated). There was almost no complaining and many loud statements about it all being worth it.

Americans. Not complaining about standing in line for hours to vote. Okay, some people were reading books or messing with their smartphones and one was working on a laptop. But nobody saw the lines and left...and if they did, I bet they came back later.

What happened to our famed voter apathy? I think something started, perhaps with Occupy. People are waking up and realizing that they do have some power in this country. That they do live in a democracy. That voting is an immense privilege...and a heavy responsibility. I am a lot more proud to live in America and carry a United States passport than I was on Monday.

A lot more.