Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Voted

I did not hesitate. I didn't think of Dad and all the years of Fox News when I filled in the black circle; I didn't think about anything. I just did what I went to the polls to do.

Wyoming's three electoral votes went to John McCain, but mine went to Barack Obama. It's pretty certain that McCain and Sarah Palin would have pushed legislation that would have, in the short term at least, favored the economy and culture of my beloved state. But I don't just want what's best for the people in my state right now. I want what's best for the world, tomorrow and beyond. And I think that's Obama.

Political science is not an exact science, and the people who believe they know exactly what will happen are wrong. I want to see. I want to believe in something. I want all the nations of the world to see that my country is still worthy of respect, is still the same progressive and brilliant culture that made it Great. Maybe two years down the road I'll regret it, but I can't know that now. All I know is that from the first moment I heard her speak and saw her gesture, saw her interact with her family and the constituency she assumed like a plastic pageant crown, I had no respect for Sarah Palin, and I couldn't imagine her governing me. I don't know her, but if she can't find a way to communicate to me that she is genuine and ethical and more intelligent than I am (which she never managed), I don't want her making decisions about my freedom.

I can see both sides; I agree with certain staple philosophies of both parties. A lot of the things I hear on Fox News I still nod my head at, but I'm beginning to see that with the way the world is changing, the way it has changed, the things I once believed are no longer always true. I want abortion to be a personal choice, even though it wouldn't be my choice. I want people of any sexual orientation to be able to marry whoever they want; I can't imagine someone telling me that if I married the person I loved, it wouldn't be recognized by the courts or my employer. I don't have the right to tell anyone else how to live if they are not harming me or the people I love. Marriage is a manmade institution; we developed it, so we can evolve it.

A few weeks ago I read the entire Constitution of the United States of America (it's surprisingly succinct), and I began to understand something. This government was an experiment, a grand experiment. It was constructed by people who were passionate about an idea, people who had vision. The problem is that vision didn't extend into the 21st century. Those poor, idealistic men didn't see the Internet coming. They didn't see tasers or accident attorneys with their frivolous lawsuits. They didn't see Hoover Dam or Pork Barrel spending or Omnibus bills. They assumed that the people who governed would be ethical, progressive, not You-Scratch-My-Back-I'll-Scratch-Yours tycoons whose constituencies -- the wealthy ones, in particular -- would become more important to them than the health of the nation as a whole.

The founding fathers crafted the constitution to be elastic, however, because they understood one concept: things change. Progress doesn't necessarily mean building more dams and pumping aquifers dry to irrigate more land and creating a bigger army and blowing the bad guys to kingdom come. Progress in government means continually searching for the best way to provide the best life for the people you are governing. That means research and cooperation, diplomacy and understanding. There are some things that cannot be resolved to everyone's satisfaction; that's why the laws in the constitution can be repealed, why they're voted on. If the people who are governing us cannot find a way to progress, we have to replace them.

I know people who believe the world is spinning out of control. I don't think it is. People thought the same thing a hundred years ago, a thousand. Why are we so vain that we believe we are as advanced as people will ever be? There's nothing wrong with planning for the worst. But you can't believe the worst. Wrap your head around this one: there will not always be a United States of America. Nations are not permanent. The only way to expand the lifetime of this one is progress. Change.

Obama gets a chance to try.


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