It has been a few days since I have posted and longer with anything substantial. I fear it will be that way for a couple more weeks. I have been traveling and will hit the road again shortly. But today is November 4, 2008 and in the US that means our presidential election is finally here.
I will not tell you that you need to go and vote regardless of your position and views. I do hope you will go and vote if you have educated yourself on the issues and the candidates and have real convictions about the choice you are making. But I think it is ethically and politically wrong to simply vote without such preparation and thought. There is no doubt that this is an “historic” election, but all presidential elections are such. This one, of course, has the added element of one candidate being the first African-American in US history to run for president. It is within living memory when African-Americans were driven away from voting so for many members of our national community this is an incredible moment and we should not lose sight of that fact.
On our campus the SHC has hosted a debate party with discussion following the first debate, a policy forum with a panel of faculty and students, and of course we were visited by Gov. Palin, Senator Obama, President Clinton (twice), and a slew of local and regional politicians. Remaining uneducated about this election at Penn State would have required a lot of serious effort at evasion. It is great for this political junkie to see so much interest and political activity. Our students have worked hard for both parties and are still at it today. This is the best kind of learning: participation.
I just made the comment a few minutes ago that my overriding hope is that the election will be a clear victory, whomever that candidate is. I think a prolonged count and questioning ballots would not be in our nation’s best interest. I was rightly chastised when a colleague said, “then vote for whoever is in the lead.” I questioned him and his response was, “if your greatest hope is for a clear victory then vote for the person who is in the lead.” No, of course we shouldn’t do that, we should vote for the candidate we believe will best lead our country. And I hope that you will do so today.
And now for some stuff. As I was perusing the news sites this morning I came across this great pictorial on Wired.com of “A Century of Presidents.” (See the picture of Taft above.) An interesting tidbit from that story: “Hoover was the last Republican president elected on a ticket that did not include a Nixon or a Bush.”
The BBC is always a good site for an international perspective that is still somewhat closer to home. They are reporting that Dixville Notch, NH has completed their voting and Obama won with 15 votes to six. And of course Google News will give you a good mashup of all news stories with election results as the come in. Enjoy the day and the history that is being made.