The Vote

On Thursday afternoon Ahna, Ezra, and I headed to the local library to cast our ballot during the Early Voting. We arrived just after lunchtime expecting a large crowd, but found a system that was set up very well, little lines, and lots of open machines (they had 6 rows of 8 machines).

There was lots of energy for us as we approached the voting booths (I took Ezra with me) and the excitement for what we were about to do was nearly overwhelming. I wrote to a friend of mine that after being so wrapped up in the election and supporting Obama for so long, the significance of what we were doing was a little emotional. I know that it is a little cheesy, but we are in such a desperate need for change in a time that we need someone like Obama so much, that it really sank in at that moment that we were voting for all of this. 

On top of that, the ‘errand’ to go and vote quickly lost it’s ‘errand’ status and transformed itself into a historical moment that we were able to share with Ezra. For the first time (even for the first time throughout this campaign season) I felt as though I wasn’t voting for my candidate, rather casting a vote for Ezra and the world that he would grow into. There is an old Native American teaching that says that the earth was loaned to us by our children. For the first time, I think I truly understood the concept. 

I haven’t gone deep into the reasons that I support Obama in this space, but we have also made no attempts to mask our political beliefs as based on social justice and therefore fit on the commonly understood scale as very liberal. There are a lot of ways that I would love to get into a discussion on politics, who to vote for, and why you might be right or wrong…but that’s for face-to-face. All that I ask is that you go out and vote (for Obama, and I can help you fill out your ballot if you like). It doesn’t matter who you support (as long as it isn’t McCain), it only matters that you exercise your responsibility to be part of this democracy. 

I will, on the other hand, let my friend do some of the talking. While a lot of our politics and fervent belief lies on the social end of the spectrum, Andrew does a great job of addressing some of the economic reasons to support Obama. 

So, I keep having an idea in my head of what I think is the perfect theme song for this election; Mike Watt’s Against the 70’s. The main refrain being “The kids of today should defend themselves against the 70s”. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is the singer on it. It just seems to me like those of us of my generation will be voting to defend ourselves against a conservative ideology brought about to solve the problems of 1979. And conservatives have basically been in power since that point, during which time they’ve knocked marginal tax rates and capital gains tax rates way down and deregulated just about everything. And at the time it was probably necessary, and I think led to the great economic growth in the 90s. But in the last 8 years the tax cutting and deregulating has been taken too far. The rich get richer, while everybody else stagnates, and without regulation the markets went off the deep end. My view of the American version of capitalism is that it has been a balancing act between empowering those who make money from having wealth and capital, and those who make money by their labor. Things get out of whack when you go off balance too far in either direction, and I think we’re off balance too much in favor of wealth and capital. The republicans still want to push the pendulum more towards the benefit of those with capital with tax cuts for capital gains and higher income brackets. It strikes me as trying to fight the battles of the late 70s, and it’s not really relevant today and would actually be pretty harmful.

And this whole “Joe the Plumber” jackass really gets me fired up. He whines that basically if he’s lucky enough to be able to make 250k/yr owning a small plumbing business, no way does he want to give a little more back to the country that allows him to succeed. Maybe he was raised in a hand hewed log cabin and schooled by his mama, but as for me, I was educated in public school and attended public, land grant colleges where I got a world class education for relative peanuts. In grad school, the government even picked up the tab for it, including some living expenses, and just asked for a little bit of my time in research in return. Now I drive down an Interstate highway to work, work at a job partially supported by federal research money, come home and eat food from the safest food source and water system around, and can rest at night knowing the finest military the world has ever seen is watching over me. And if I’m so lucky as to make a living most only dream about with a salary of 250k per year, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I give a little extra back so that when my brother is in Afghanistan, he’ll have some decent body armor. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to give a little more back than those who don’t have as much do, so that other people can get the same benefits I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy.

So, I don’t need a damn tax cut. Use the money to keep the bridge I’m driving across on the way to work from falling down. Let the policemen, firefighters, teachers and soldiers I’m depending on make a decent living. The “Spreading the Wealth Around” that Joe calls “Socialism”, I call giving my fair share for all our benefit: teamwork.

So, you’re probably figuring by now I’ll be voting for Obama, and you would be right. I actually think McCain is a decent guy, but I just think he formed his views in the late 70s and they’ve never changed, and that’s not what we need. Here’s hoping that Obama wins and can get us all moving in the right direction together again.

Here’s a picture of Ezra participating in the event of a lifetime (they wouldn’t let us take a camera into the voting booth, so this will have to do). Make sure that you go and do the same.


  1. Andrew Wessman says:

    We must have John Rephlo going nutts by now.

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