Today, America is the envy of the world. Today, after 8 years of a President who has steadily declined in popularity both at home and abroad, amidst a struggling economy, in a war, Americans from all walks of life, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, will go to the polls to vote for a new President.
We have had 18 months of increasingly negative and bitter campaigning. Both sides have slung their share of mud. Good friends and family members have argued til they were blue in the face because they are passionate about their candidate.
Beginning at midnight in Dixville Notch New Hampshire and continuing until the polls close in Alaska and Hawaii, Americans in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will go to the polls, braving weather and lines (hopefully) to have their say. And they won't just be voting for President, but that's the one vote that will make the difference to the rest of the world.
Because no matter how cantankerous this campaign has been, we will elect our next leader peacefully. We do not need UN peacekeeping forces to protect us while we vote. We do not need international monitors to ensure that our election is carried out fairly. We respect each other's right to vote for the candidate of our own choice, even if we don't agree with who that is.
And tomorrow, if we have conclusively chosen our new President, we will simply get on with our lives. Between November 5th and January 20th, the new administration will put its Cabinet together and begin to build bridges to the other side. There will not be riots in the streets by the losing side or violence against the other side in anyway.
If the President has not been conclusively decided, there may be some protesting. But it will be done peacefully and respectfully. Because that's who we really are as Americans. We respect each other's Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
This marvel of the free world that we call America is only made possible by men and women who fought and died for our right to exist as a country and for our Constitution. You do them dishonour if you do not vote today.
In the end, it doesn't matter who you vote for, but if you don't vote, you don't deserve to live here. Dixville Notch had 100% turnout (15 for Obama & 6 for McCain btw), but they are likely to be one of the only places in America that does so well. And that, my friends, is sad. We should all love our country enough to take the time to vote.
There are many local officials up for election and local propositions that will directly affect your life even if you don't think the occupant of the Oval Office will do so.
If you don't know where to go to vote, please visit www.canivote.org to find your polling place. Most states require employers to give you reasonable time off work to vote. Most states will allow you to vote a provisional ballot if your name is not on the list at the polling place. Some states allow you to register and vote on the same day. There's just no excuse for not voting.
If you can't appreciate how easy it is for you to vote your conscience today, you should seriously consider moving to some other part of the world for awhile. People in other parts of the world walk for days, some in fear of their lives, to cast votes for their candidate of choice. In those places, people can be pitied for not voting. But this is America, people. Vote, or leave.
My two cents...