Voting is its own reward

Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. While I will openly admit I didnít vote for the Democratic candidate, I still have high hopes for his presidency. Our president-elect has a tough job ahead of him, and I pray that he is up for the challenge.

I sincerely hope he will be the breath of fresh air that our country needs and that he will be able to affect the positive change necessary to strengthen this nation. But he will not be able to do it alone. He will need the support of the House and the Senate, as well as the American people.

I was heartened by John McCainís speech, conceding the election to Obama. He spoke of cooperation, rather than partisan politics. That is what this country will need to thrive in the future.

Even though my candidate may not have been victorious, I am still glad to have exercised my Constitutional right to vote. And Iím proud to say I didnít need a star-shaped doughnut with patriotic sprinkles or a cup of free coffee (with cream and two sugars, please) to sweeten the deal, so to speak. Heck, I didnít even get a sticker to prove to my boss that I actually had a valid reason for being late to work on Tuesday.

No, I didnít need any added inducement to get me to my designated polling station at 6 a.m. on Election Day. For me, knowing that I was doing my civic duty and that my vote would be counted along with those of my fellow Americans was enough of a reward.

But apparently, not everyone felt that way. Silly me. I thought participating in the political/electoral process, helping to select local, state and national leaders was reason enough to visit the polls. Obviously, I was mistaken. Why else would corporations like Krispy Kreme and Starbucks make such offers? Could they be trying to capitalize on the electoral process as a marketing opportunity? Oh, no, perish the thought. Iím sure they were just trying to encourage people to get out and vote.

In some states, however, they were criticized for their offers. Apparently there is a federal statute which specifically prohibits rewarding people for voting. Are sugar and caffeine really illegal inducements to get people to visit the polls?

Iím sure the precedent behind this legislation can be tracked to nefarious deeds by people or parties trying to sway or buy votes. But somehow I doubt Krispy Kreme and Starbucks had that same motivation. They were probably just trying to sell more doughnuts and coffee between now and the next election.

But maybe some people do need the promise of a sugar rush or caffeine buzz as added motivation to get out and vote. Iím always startled by the percentage of Americans who donít vote.

In general, we seem to want to find every possible opportunity to shout our opinions from the highest building and on every internet forum. But when it comes election time, so many remain quiet. I guess it is their prerogative. It is, after all, a free country.

I guess now that the election is done and dusted, this is a topic for another day. Probably in four years, when we get to do it all over again. Let us hope that our country is in a different place, economically at least, at that time.

As we move forward from this historic election, I wish our next president the best as he prepares to take office in January. And with his move to Washington, of course.

I understand that President-Elect Obama has promised his children a new puppy once they get into the White House. Might I suggest a Pomeranian? I understand our local SPCA has a number that might just be ready for adoption in time for the inauguration.

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