No one but ourselves in the ballot box

Get out and vote, Chenango.

I have nothing but respect for John McCain; he’s a veteran who’s sacrificed a great deal to protect my right to criticize him. He’s a seasoned politician who’s crawled up the chain of command and is now on the precipice of becoming the commander-in-chief.

I admire Barack Obama and find his idealistic and controversial views similar to the romantic political fantasizing of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. A man of mixed race, religion and concern, an integrated man who embodies the diversity of the American culture.

I think both candidates deviated from their own beliefs in selecting their running mates because they believed it gave them the best chance of winning. The Democrats chose party unity and traditional reassurance by selecting the stereotypically appropriate vice president, Joe Biden, in hopes of alleviating beliefs that perhaps Obama is too much change.

Then there is the riskier Republican nominee Sarah Palin, chosen with the purpose to generate controversy and to revitalize an aging McCain while simultaneous anchoring him to the fundamental base with her hard-line Republican ideals.

It’s hard to cast a vote for the next four years today without be reminded of the last eight. People say don’t tie President Bush to John McCain, but I didn’t – the Republican party did. Why can’t I judge a political party on its recent past? It seems ridiculous to me to imply people shouldn’t take it into account.

To each his own; that’s the beauty and flaw of our system. If I want to decide on my presidential choice because I have studied at-length the issues of both candidates and spent hundreds of hours poring over articles written by CNN, BBC, Fox, Al-Jazeera and NPR for the last two years, so be it – but the guy next to me in line decided on the mudslinging commercial he saw just yesterday. That’s how it’s supposed to work, I’m afraid.

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is five minutes with the average voter.”

As people line their community halls to cast their votes for the president, I think of my political science teacher who argued voting is among the most essential of our rights because it is the best defense in ensuring all that follow it. Without choice, we have nothing and we have to answer to no one but ourselves in the ballot box.

The considerations for pulling the lever are as numerous as the people filling the booths. I know some will be voting today with race, religion or sex in their minds, but I hope most voters look at the real issues plaguing our nation and not at the appearance of the candidate.

I am also relieved that very soon the media freight train of political coverage will be coming to an end.

For months, political experts, journalists and comedians have dissected every aspect of the process, detailed every angle and characterized every figure. I found a lot of it to be ridiculously biased and petty.

Regardless of the outcome, I must say I am a believer of debate and disagreement, but also one of respect. The one elected will be mandated by the masses and after that I believe a citizen should look forward rather than behind. Remember that half the people in this country will most likely be disappointed at the end of the day. We must set aside our differences under the new leadership in order to meet the challenges before us.

I’m inspired by these words said by a great American in a time of great division:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, March 4, 1861.

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