Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Some States, Voting Counts Again

I remember the first time I voted for a presidential candidate. It was shortly after the constitutional amendment that lowered the voting age to 18 had taken effect and I wanted to exercise my new power over the government.

I was still in college and, back then at least, most college students were democrats, even at Franklin College. But Nixon, a Republican, was riding a wave of popularity and was about to end the draft and the war in Vietnam. So I was a Nixon supporter.

I even convinced my Aunt Ruby to vote Republican. She had never voted Republican in her life, but she did it for me.

Now, as we all know from history, or because we were there to witness it, Nixon turned out to be the only president ever to resign in disgrace. My first presidential vote turned out to be a big mistake. But my solace came in knowing that a large majority of Americans made the same mistake.

I voted for another winner in 1976, Jimmy Carter. He was a Democrat, so my aunt returned to voting for her own party. I don’t think she ever voted Republican again. But I did. I voted for George H. W. Bush in 1992 because I thought he was a brilliant man who had a hand in winning the Cold War. He was the only leader in the free world who forecast the failure of the political coup in Russia in 1990. He deserved a second term.

But, alas, the economy turned sour during the final months leading up to the election and the saxophone-playing Bill Clinton came away with a landslide and a mandate. Despite a tentative foreign policy and amid some minor scandals, he did manage to fix the economy and kept it strong right up through his second term.

I voted Republican again in 2000, opting for W. over Al Gore. I didn’t do my homework well enough; I just figured he would be just like his dad, whom I still admire. But I was wrong. Unlike the elder Bush, Junior turned out to be a born-again blithering idiot.

His election and reelection were both decided by a single state. It was Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. So blame those people.

Indiana gave up its 11 electoral votes to Bush both times. In fact, it hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president in the last 44 years. Even in the 1992 Clinton landslide, Indiana remained an island of red in a sea of blue.

But there is some hope this year. All the political polls have shown Indiana has been leaning slightly toward McCain. But the most recent polls are showing Obama with a healthy lead. That could change, of course. But if it doesn’t, it will mean that Indiana is actually taking a look at the candidate rather than blindly voting Republican year after year.

My daughter and I have already voted. We went last week and cast our ballots. This was her second time voting for a president and she took it very seriously. She did all the research. We don’t always agree on the issues, but we agreed this vote would be a no-brainer. We went with Obama.

Teens who have recently turned 18 and who have never voted often get exited about the prospect of voting, but then turn timid on Election Day. But whomever you support, my advice is to make sure you find out where to vote and then turn out next Tuesday to help make a difference. Or you can go vote today in most states. States like Indiana and Virginia might actually count this time, but only if we all vote.

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