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Nov. 6: Election Day

November 8th, 2007

On November 6, on my way home, I pulled off the highway at my exit and saw the usual “homeless-guy-with-sign” on my left. Looking to the right I saw another fellow I thought I recognized as one of the rotating corner residents. Layered in a hooded sweatshirt and two jackets he ambled down the sidewalk, his full and ragged beard obscuring most of his face. In his left hand he held an oddly sized white envelope with red print on it. Looking closer and I saw it was an absentee voter’s ballot, same as the one sitting on my passenger’s seat.

I’ll confess that I’m jaded towards our election process, I am skeptical of how our President actually got into office, and question if candidates are really going to spend one billion dollars campaigning this next year. Or what about, more locally, voters saying Yes on the Monorail several times but detractors bringing it up until the Monorail concept was sullied and eventually voted down. A lot of money was spent on studies, lawyers, advertising, and purchasing land to go…nowhere.

Like many, I’m sure, I find it tiring and difficult to really understand what a politician is saying they will do and how they will do it. And yes, I certainly could be a better informed voter, doing more than skimming headlines and reading last-minute political statements and reviews. But I do take voting seriously; like freedom of speech, I think it is a right many take for granted.

Look at the recent protests in Myanmar and their violent suppression; citizens were beaten and fired upon by the military while at least two foreign journalists were shot dead, one point blank. Or, right now, with President Musharraf suspending the constitution with emergency rule and dissolving the Supreme Court; true, not every country need be ruled ‘just like ours’ but when its citizens are calling for democracy…

We here in the States have a fairly good life. We do not have to fear the disbandment of the Supreme Court and we can gather in protest on the street in groups of larger than five. But part of that equation lies in our responsibility to pay attention to our politics and hold our leaders accountable. One could argue our political system is a farce but I still believe a vote can make a change. So it is with no small amount of pride that I watched that “homeless guy” walk down the street with his ballot, for I too was dropping mine off at the polling station.

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