One year ago, I became a U.S. citizen. Today, I went down to the local poll for a chance to screw this country up.
Originally, I thought of romanticizing the event by voting on Election Day but realized that would mean waiting in long lines to get to the booth. That wasn't a very appealing idea considering the fickleness of my infant. I decided to vote early.
Throughout the campaigns, I listened open-mindedly to the arguments of the two major candidates. I didn't really know who I was going to vote for, but I was leaning towards McCain since I am not for "spreading the wealth."
Wealth is not like oxygen, where everyone is entitled to it just by virtue of being born. Wealth is more like a garden. Someone has to study the conditions, prepare a plan, put the work in, tend to it regularly, and defend it from the elements and pests before she is rewarded with a bumper crop. If the gardener wants to share the bounty with her neighbors, then she is free to do so from the place of generosity. She should not, however, be forced to give up half her crop to people who decided they didn't want to pick up a book on gardening because "I'm just not good at things like that." [/tangent]
I watched the vice-presidential debates and liked both candidates. I recognized Joe Biden's experience put him at a greater advantage than Sarah Palin, but overall, I found both of them to be well-qualified, so still, I was undecided.
I then watched the third and final presidential debate. At this debate, I paid most attention to how each candidate behaved when confronted by the opposition. Both candidates were obviously passionate about their stances, as they should be, however, the distinction between the candidates' "fighting styles" quickly became apparent to me. John McCain behaved quite childishly, nit-picked words, crudely twisted meanings, and kept bringing up issues that had been addressed already by the Democratic candidate. His tactics were transparent, scattered, and worn-out. I pictured McCain sitting down to discuss affairs with China, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia. There is no chance he would gain respect (much less, cooperation) from these countries using the tactics he was employing on this much smaller stage. On the other hand, even though apparently annoyed and confused by the Republican's persistence in matters already addressed, Barack Obama remained calm, addressed them again, and then laid out his own ideas in a clear and organized manner.
I began mulling things over. I can't vote for a man who can't keep himself civil under fire. After all, the President of the United States is constantly under pressure. I had to consider Obama. But how could I vote for him when I disagreed with his economics?
Does the President get to pass whatever law he wants?
Does the President fulfill all of his campaign promises?
May a President ignore the Constitution?
No, no, and no.
Thank goodness for our system of checks and balances! Considering that everything has to get through a Congress comprised of persons holding different ideologies and has to pass muster with a Supreme Court upholding the Constitution, I don't believe that some of Obama's plans will come to fruition (just as some of McCain's plans would not).
Based on this, I had to vote for the candidate with the higher character and who conducted himself best during this election season. (That's a challenge in its own for most of us.) But, first, I had to calm the crying baby in my left arm and move her so drool would not drizzle onto the voting screen. Then, I voted.
You may have your own system for selecting a candidate, and I encourage you to use it, even if it leads you to a different decision than mine. I just hope you will be grateful for your freedom to vote and respectfully use it.
And if you can, sneak a camera in and take a photo of your vote.
[Posted song: "America the Beautiful" by Ray Charles]