Paul here…. One of the intriguing benefits of being an ex-pat is that you have to figure out how to register as an absentee voter. I’ve never voted absentee before because I like the ritual of going to the polls. After figuring out which form to fill out and where to mail it, a couple of months ago we sent in our registration. Our ballots came in the mail two weeks ago, filled with the typical crazy voters’ initiatives and arcane County Charter amendments. Despite persistent rumors that no one counts absentee ballots unless the election is close, we’re excited to participate in this historic election.
Last week, in Atlanta on a trip for work, I mailed in our ballots.
Living in Europe for a while now, it is jarring to see how far America has fallen in the world’s esteem. It is sad to see the old guard better deliver upon the premise of the American project than America, that old refrain so memorably articulated by the last great president from Illinois, now smeared as “socialism” by Fox News: government of the people, by the people, for the people. So, it was exciting to see two hundred thousand non-Americans cheering America and waving our flag instead of burning it, rooting for us to once again become respectful citizens of the world rather than continuing to be dangerous scofflaws.
Tonight, while feeding my obsession with the state of the election, mixed in with some crazy You Tube surfing, I ran across this will.i.am video which lead me to this speech and then this one that I had heard before, which reminded me why I am (we are) voting for Barack Obama.
Unlike McCain who has made this election about personal bitterness, or Palin who preaches fundamentalist fascism, or the coldly calculating Clinton, this is a man who speaks with an inspiring clarity of moral vision unlike any other national leader since Martin Luther King. This is a man who understands what America is about. Or rather, what America is supposed to be about.
Listen to Obama’s words…
We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government….
We’re up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together….
We’re up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election….
We’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon, a politics that tells us that we have to think, act and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us….
We are here tonight to say that that is not the America we believe in.
So understand this … The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old. And it is not about black versus white.
This election is about the past versus the future.
It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.
So, if you are voting Obama this year, thank you for voting in the hope that America can be a better country–that we can together be a better people–than we have become through years of willful neglect and self-centeredness.
And if you’re not, well, we hope that you’ll participate in this future anyway.