I originally wrote this post last November, right before the over-hyped presidential elections. At that time, the whole world was watching the US and picking sides. This year, it's less contentious in most places, and yet, we in Virginia find ourselves in the spotlight again, deluged by ads and what is turning out to be another much hyped election.
For the first time in a long time, we are making national news. This state, traditionally a Republican presidential voting state, went Democrat and helped vote Obama into office. Now, less than ten months later, our governor seat is up for grabs, and it looks like Virginians are going back to a Republican.
It's garnered national attention for two reasons. One is that it was a huge coup that the state went to Obama, and the fact that now it may turn back around is taken as a referendum on how Virginians see Obama's presidency going. (Let's ignore the fact that gubinatorily speaking, VA has gone back and forth between Democrat and Republican many, many times.)
The second reason national news outlets are looking at us is that the White House - once the Democrat nominee began losing in the polls by double digits - suddenly backed away from him and began blaming him for a bad campaign and for not using Obama's name enough. It's now become a national debate on whether or not Obama is to blame for Republicans winning in VA, and why the White House deems it necessary to blame someone in the race. It seems to be in hyper-defensive mode.
And yet, in the midst of this, Afghanistanians are now resigned to a rigged election and a leader they have no trust in and didn't truly elect.
In contrast, I get a say in who goes into office. I may not like the million phone calls a day I get by pollsters and politicians. I may get upset by the forests of trees that must have been leveled to produce the slick marketing pamphlets I get in the mail. I may have to watch only shows I've TiVod so I can skip the multitudes of mud-slinging ads.
But today I get to go to the polls and put in my vote. I get to slather on that hand sanitizer they are so freely offering to prevent the spread of swine flu and hit that touch screen button with all the love of freedom that is in me.
Today I get to vote.
So here is the post I wrote last year. It is as fitting today as it was back then:
They've gone since infants: my son first went in a car carrier seat at less than a month old. They've never missed one. I think it's important for them to know what a privilege and responsibility it is to vote, and how magnificent and unique this country is. We've used purple markers to color in the box, pulled the curtain behind us and flipped the levers, and touched a computer screen. We wear our flag-bearing "I voted" stickers all day.
Another reason I wait is for the experience of it. Mailing an envelope doesn't quite feel the same (although if I had to do that, I'd do it proudly!). And the early voting is in a different location. As a creature of routine, I like my home polling place. I run into neighbors. I know the polling volunteers.
So tomorrow I brave the crowds. Tomorrow I vote.
I'm proud of being an American. Proud of the history of this country, although it's far from perfect. And whichever way this election goes, I'll still be proud to have been a part of this process. Whichever way it goes, I'll be glad to live in this incredible place I call home.