Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

It seems appropriate to start a new blog about politics on election day, before we know who will win. Whether it's appropriate to start a political blog at all is open to debate. I dislike politics. I dislike both parties. I wish we could have had a totally different slate of candidates. I dislike having had to pay attention all this time.

And yet I can't stay away, either. Somehow that's no longer an option. As a kid I used to avoid conversations with my father about politics. I'd cringe whenever the political conventions or debates were on and he'd start arguing with the TV. How could he get that wound up in something that was so unimportant? We only get a chance to do something about it once a year, right?

Then I grew up. I got a job, bought a house, got married, and started a family. It matters. These clowns will be controlling the environment I will have to live in for the next few years. They will be the ones who decide if my sons must go to war. They can help me get ahead, or they can keep me down.

It matters.

And now I find myself arguing with the television and actively scanning media for more insights into candidate X's positions or how issue Y may affect me. I have become my father. I understand him better now.

Yet as important as politics has become to me, I still consider myself outside of it all. I probably lean conservative, but I call myself a moderate. I will probably find myself running for office some day, so I'll have to connect myself with one party or another some day, but I'll resist that as long as I can.

I'm the president of my homeowners association. Mostly because no one else wanted the job, but also because I care. The condition of the neighborhood I raise my family in matters. If I don't do something, then nothing is what will happen. In our last neighborhood that meant eight-foot plastic pterodactyls hanging from trees, horrific Christmas light displays up--and burning--year round, rental properties with more weeds than lawn, and campers and boats cramping the streets to the point that our two-lane was really a one-lane. I don't want nothing to happen again.

And I will put aside my distaste for the whole process today and go vote after work. Because it matters. I will probably take my older kids with me so they can see how it works. Because I want it to someday matter to them.

I am not optimistic about our future. The nation appears ready to elect a president that I'm afraid hasn't really told us what he really wants to do, but has rather been telling us what he thinks we want to hear. But I have thought about it, and if he wins I will claim him as my president. I will not belittle him and his position like so many have done the last two presidents. Not voting for him does not absolve me of not granting him the basic respect his office deserves.

I have hope for the future. It's a hope that I will have been wrong about him, that ultimately he will prove as intelligent and thoughtful as his supporters claim, and that perhaps we don't see things so differently after all. It's a hope that, if I'm right about him, he won't have an easy time of getting his way.

It's a hope, too, that perhaps the media will return to their original role of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable instead of trying to get someone elected. Or, even better, just report the news.

It's not a great hope. But there's always tomorrow.

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