Monday, November 3, 2008

The Great Race

On Tuesday, Nov 4th, Americans go to the polls to elect the next President. It is a momentous election because for the first time in American history, a mixed race candidate is on the ballot for President. This past Friday, I stood in line for two hours in the hot, humid sun to cast my early vote for Barack Obama.

And it's not just his ideas and plans and character that earned my support. It's also because for me, he's the epitome of the American dream. A lot of people keep calling him the black or African American candidate. But his mother is white, and he was born in Hawaii and raised by his grandparents into young adulthood.

I admire how he came up from working class roots. His mother was a single parent for a while, and he tells of how when times were rough, his mother had to get food stamps to put food on the table. I like his story of how hard work and dedication took him from poverty to college. He didn't have any connections and riches to get into Harvard; he relied on student loans and scholarships to pay for college. I like that the values of hard work and personal strength turned him into a Senator. Now, he's poised to become the President of the United States of America. It's a testament to the American dream, that if you work hard for it, it can come true.

But it isn't going to be an easy road. I'm not even sure if he will win the election, no matter what the polls say. When I cast my vote for him in that voting booth, I felt my heart beating fast. I was excited because I was actually voting for someone I believed in. I stood there and took a moment to appreciate what I was doing. I was taking part in a momentous, extraordinary event. I was making a historic choice, one that could change the future for the better. But I was also afraid. I was afraid maybe my vote would get lost. I even spent a few minutes just looking at the ballot, making sure that it was his name that I had picked. And when I finally pressed that Cast Vote button, I felt my heart speeding, beating loudly in my ears.

And it wasn't just the fear of my vote getting lost that troubled me. I also worry about Senator Barack Obama's safety. He's all ready had death threats made against him by racists. The American nation has a tragic, troubling history of assassinating great leaders, like President Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in America; Dr Martin Luther King, who fought to end racial segregation; and so many others. America is a nation that prides itself on freedom, but our history shows that freedom has not been given equally to all American people. We are a nation that was built on lands taken from the American Indians whom we've annihilated, their few descendants are entrenched in poverty and disease, confined to the poorest wastelands. Our riches and strength were built on the subjugation and enslavement of an entire people for hundreds of years. Do I think race has an effect on the election? Of course I do. There will be people who will discriminate against you because you are of a different race, religion, or belief system.

But there are people who believe in the American dream, that no matter what color or religion or ideology we hold, we are still Americans, human beings above all else. I hope that voters will see past race, and vote for a better change. I hope that more people will get out on Tuesday and vote. Too many people complain about the state of the government, about lengthy campaigns, but not enough people vote. Not enough people take the time to learn about the issues and participate. I can't stand to listen to people who complain about the government when they don't even vote! If you don't vote, then don't complain!

Government only works for the people when the people take part in the government. Voting is our right, and it's how we decide on the best government for us as one nation and one people. We are a nation of many races, many people; and that diversity is what make us uniquely American. In the end, this election is more than just the race for President. It's the opportunity for the American people to transcend themselves and embody the very best of the human race. Can we put aside our prejudices and embrace our similarities along with our differences? I hope so. Can we be a better nation? I believe so. Can we become a better people? I know we can, and perhaps that belief that we can be a better people is what makes this election truly the great race.


  1. Good on you for voting! That's so important, no matter who you vote for.

    It's great that you've got a candidate you believe in and respect. That's important too.

    Bring on November 4!

  2. Oh, CP, I'm so excited! It's like Xmas, and if my candidate wins, it'll be like getting a great Xmas present! If the opponent wins, I'm hoping I can get a receipt to return that present for something else! ;)

  3. Well if he is returned to where he came from you'll have to deal with Hockey Mom.

    What's worse to you?

    I'm glad you are excited and I hope the best one for the job wins. It would be great if they can figure out a way to deal with this credit crunch before wrecks my employment.

  4. I am glad your excited
    Sadly The Beast is a dreadfull old cynic and will keep his dreadful old cynical views to himself

  5. Eros, I fervently hope Obama is elected President, as you do. It is time for change, which we here in Canada did not get in our recent waste of money to retain the useless twits already on Parliament Hill.

    And I so hope that no one decides they have to take Obama out if he does get elected. It is so unfortunate that the outspoken antagonists of political change in your country resort to violence and murder at times when, if they could just sit on their hands and wait, they would see the good that change can bring to the American people.

    My fingers are crossed for your vote to be worth something; for the evolution of the American populace; for the forward thinking that Obama will bring to office in the White House.

    Your country really does need to change the way the election process is done, though - two freakin' years of this is way too long!

  6. Awesome.

    I re-watched American History X last night (Ed Norton's chilling tale of redemption from his curb-stomping skinhead past) and it really made me sick.

    I'm not exactly sure why it has taken so long for America to accept the equality of other earthlings whose genetic makeup contains levels of melanin that were forged by their latitudinal environments.

    I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that most still adhere to the All American image of Jesus/GOD. The All American image is the Jesus as a pasty white Dude with the orange hair and beard who just happens to look exactly like King James I.

    Not only do almost half of all Americans believe that Jesus is coming back in their lifetime, but most of them prolly cannot imagine him looking like an olive skinned, dark haired, middle eastern, Jew?

    If something does happen to Obama some asshole with three names (assassins always have 3) will enter the history books and the country may just tear itself apart.

    Thomas Jefferson (who apparently had no problem with consensually mingling with African descendents)created the Democratic Party while the Republican Party was formed by disgruntled slave owners.

    See even I'm doing it here..there is a huge disconnect with reality at play here.. the dichotomous visions of the extreme edges of the two completely erase the vast majority of people in both parties who are firmly in the centre. The Media needs an enema. They exagerate the wingnuts on either extreme and raise the hyperbole into the stratosphere.
    Shame on them.

    The rest of the world is holding their breath waiting to see if the USA will reconnect.

    If it doesn't..and you're right that could happen, it might be as close as '68...
    then it is time to seriously consider your options. Hope you like Hockey, Maple Syrup, and cold Winters?

  7. Well whoever does win, they will have to prove themselves ten to 20 times over. Anyone can just talk about what they're going to do for us. I voted for Obama too. I hope that, if he does win the race, that he makes us proud.

  8. don't forget zambonis MJ and Canada geese.

  9. I'm too nervous to even watch tomorrow. Kudos for getting out early and voting. I agree with you that we all need to take our democratic rights and responsibilities seriously and VOTE.

  10. CP, I hope nothing bad happens to McCain. Eight years ago, I support Sen McCain when he ran against George Bush for the Republican Party nomination. However, that "hockey mom" is one of the reasons I kind of started leaning towards Obama. Palin is no Hillary Clinton! Also, when the economic crisis occurred, I liked Obama's reaction and plan better.

    Beast, I've my doubts, too about Obama winning, even if he has a slight lead in the polls. But I'm also hopeful, which something that's so rare in these troubled times. I guess that's why Obama appealed to me; he inspired hope and he seems to rise above the dirty politics of the last millennium.

    Ponygirl, The violence in American politics is unfortunately part of the American identity. We were a nation forged in bloody battle, brother against brother.

    The right to bear arms is part of our Constitution, because as an oppressed people in a wild, unknown continent, the early Americans needed to defend themselves from all threats. That right to defend itself, unfortunately, has given crazy, violent psychos access to guns. But how do we limit access to guns without threatening the very rights this country holds dear? That remains our problem, and we're still looking for answers.

    But reason and freedom are also part of the American identity, and I hope that those traits, which have risen during times of great turmoil, will rise again and help heal our nation, and do our part to make the world a better place. It's been done before, and I believe we can do it again.

  11. Mr Coppens, I think that because America is made up of so many different people, from all classes who were either here all ready, forced here, or moved here, it's inevitable that there will be problems. The people who become rich and powerful always try to maintain the status quo.

    But, there are always charismatic leaders who've been able to reach across all races and classes and remind people of what's important, and those moments of change have had a dramatic effect on the course of our nation. Sometimes for the best; sometimes for the worst. Sometimes, the easiest way to power is to form the 'us versus them' mentality. It speaks to fears and having someone to blame gives the group a false sense of control.

    But I think America is realizing that we've all become a mixed nation, whose history and makeup come from all over the world. It's no longer black or white or hispanic American. We're just Americans, just as the rest of the world sees us, regardless of our color or beliefs.

    I think in Barack Obama, we're seeing the future of America, a nation and people made from many. And I think we're ready to take positive action and do our part in making a safer, better world. At least, I hope so.

    And if the worst happens, I'm thinking of avoiding snow all together and heading towards the sunny Caribbean beaches of Caicos and Turks. Aren't they planning on joining Canada?

    MJ, Do they have that in Caicos and Turks? I wouldn't mind visiting the summer! Although, Vancouver is hosting the next Winter Olympics 2010!

    Tara, You're so right! The next President has a much more difficult job to do. I guess that's why I'm hoping Obama wins, because I like his plans to put people to work, esp. with public works, rebuilding our roads and infrastructure. It's going to be a difficult recovery, but I do believe that we will come out stronger and better.

    CP I wouldn't mind driving a Zamboni while eating a Canada goose sandwich, wearing my seal pup coat and polar bear cap ;)

    Snooze, Hear, hear, for democracy! I'm going to be up all night watching the election! I'm still super nervous and excited and fearful of what might happen, but I've got to see this through.

  12. I'm sure Hockey mom can make that happen in Alaska, at least the coat and zamboni ride

  13. CP, he.he. I don't know if I can wear a coat made out of Hockey mom...perhaps she'd make a lovely rug or welcome mat instead!

  14. Well she'd never be more welcoming than as a welcome mat.

    Part of it may be Chanel.

  15. And I'm sure people would enjoy wiping their feet on that mat!