Will the Long National Nightmare Be Over?
I early-voted in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. It was almost like
praying. I spent a long time on the ballot, which was quite
extensive--in Arizona as in many Western states there's always a raft
of ballot initiatives to consider, and judges though appointed
initially must be retained in office by a vote of the people. I voted
on every single one of the dozens of judges even though I knew little
about most of them. I don't think I ever relished filling out a ballot
so much, and I was glad the early vote ballots are done by old
fashioned pen and paper rather than voting machine. It's a more
tangible pleasure somehow to draw those arrows carefully with black ink
to the candidate's name.
A vote of the people. It really is a sacred thing.
This election is the opportunity to end the Bush era, possibly even to
end the lockgrip the Republican right has had around the throats of us
all for so long up and down the ticket--since 1980, really, when Ronald
Reagan was swept into office on the promise of bringing good cheer and
optimism to national leadership in contrast to Jimmy Carter's
The words of Gerald Ford
keep ringing in my ears. When he took the oath of office after Richard
"I'm no crook" Nixon resigned in 1974, he promised that "our long
national nightmare is over." And we all breathed a sigh of relief.
If Obama wins tonight, that's how I and probably many of us will be
tempted to feel once more. We will be tempted to breathe a sigh of
relief and go back to our normal daily lives, checking our political
interests at the door.
But elections aren't over when they
are over. In fact, the real work of governing will just be beginning
tomorrow. If Americans keep their elevated interest in politics, and
continue to participate--whether by telling the new president
frequently what we expect of him, by finding a place for activism
within a political party or on behalf of a candidate who was just
elected, or involvement with an organization whose principles mesh with
ours, or even deciding to run for office yourself, then not only can
the long national nightmare end, but new dreams for a more just and
fair America can, at last, once more begin.