US Election 2008
Posted by Nathan Doughty on October 20, 2008 7:06 PM GMT
I received my absentee ballot last Friday after a month or so of worrying that the good folk in Georgetown, Texas may not have received my registration or that it may not arrive in time back to me in London. However, arrive it did and I now have it all filled in and ready to post back tomorrow for what I hope will be early counting.
I have voted Obama/Biden in the headline federal race for President / Vice President.
I am not historically a solid Democrat. I was a fan of Reagan as a boy. As a teenager I volunteered for the Bush/Quayle campaign in Dallas - stuffing envelopes and doing my bit for the democratic process. In university I cast my first presidential vote for Clinton/Gore - and then voted for Clinton again in 1996. In 2000 I voted for Bush - I'm a Texan and he was a good Governor of Texas - especially in how open and engaging he seemed to be relative to our relations with Mexico and how progressive he seemed on immigration - and still pro-business and regulation-light. By 2004 I had realised my mistake - maybe his role in Texas where the legislature only meets for a bit every two years didn't translate all that well to the Oval Office - where we really need a Great Communicator - and so I voted for Kerry/Edwards - only to see Bush pull out what I thought then an unlikely victory. As a voter in Texas there often seems little or no reason to get too wound up about the vote - so overwhelming is the likelihood that the state will be a red one - regardless of how you vote as an individual. The only other place I have been registered was New York when I lived in the city there - and New York is just as much a sure bet to the other side.
Nonetheless, I continue to believe it is important to participate in the democratic process. I have now lived abroad for more than eight years - and in the non-military expat community there is an overwhelming tendency towards voting Democratic. I know I, for one, have witnessed firsthand the huge decline in the reputation of the U.S. abroad and the huge increase in negativity in the way citizens of other countries speak about the United States since the year 2000. Unsurprisingly, this has contributed to my current position of leaning well Democratic. George W. Bush's inability and/or unwillingness to engage the country in meaningful dialogue for the past eight years has certainly helped.
Also, I like Barack Obama. He is inspiring and I hope he wins and wins in a way that gives him sufficient mandate to put the country on a totally new track. It will not be an easy job at the best of times. The current economic maelstroms will make it all the more difficult - but it is important and so I hope he has the ability to win and then push us forward.
First he must win. I have been very nervous about this election for the past month or so. The memories of 2000 and of 2004 are still fresh. There is a lot of over-egging of the strength of Obama's position right now in the press with 15 days still to go before Election Day. I know my country - and I would not be surprised even now if McCain was to win the election from here. Not one iota.
McCain has been a popular politician for a very long time. I respect him myself - and have never discounted his candidacy. I only became 100% Obama when McCain appointed Sarah Palin as his choice for VP. I could not in good conscience now vote for McCain and open up the country to the possibility that she might become our next Commander-in-Chief. I don't want to dwell on her. I don't know her and I would be astonished if she is anything other than a very intelligent person and a wonderful human being. I just haven't seen anything that says she is up to the job. And it makes me think McCain's choice was purely cynical - a political calculation (or miscalculation, I hope) - and damn the consequences.
Some in the press are so eager for a fresh start that they seem to have already convinced themselves that no other outcome is possible but an Obama victory. I nearly threw the Sunday Times out of the window of my London flat this weekend as they jumped on the bandwagon and published a long piece about the potential cabinet appointees in an Obama administration. Christ guys - let's have the election first. I hope they were touching wood.
Nonetheless, I saw a couple of hopeful signs this past weekend. Firstly, the Obama endorsement from Colin Powell. What a speech. If you haven't seen it and are remotely interested - check it out on msnbc.com. Secondly, my hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle (www.chron.com) - came out in favour of Obama. This is the first time the Chronicle has endorsed a non-Republican candidate in more than 40 years. A sign, I hope, that times are changing and right-thinking folk - even in fly-over country in the US - are pulling together and saying enough is enough.
This is the first time I have ever openly espoused a political view on a campaign in public. In the Southern culture within which I was raised it's not really the done thing - unless you are after benefitting personally from the result. The ballot booth is anonymous for a reason - not least to keep the peace around the dinner table. But I am nervous enough about this election - and I reckon I will benefit personally from a sea-change in American government and a refocus on dialogue with the world - at least enough that I just wanted to use the limited reach of my blog to say let's keep sane until the election is done and if you do have a vote then please use it.