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WorldWatch - November 4, 2008 - This Very Good Election Year - The Ornery American

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card November 4, 2008

This Very Good Election Year

As I write this column, Americans are voting.

In Greensboro, the kids are out of school because so many of their buildings are being used as polling places.

My wife canceled the tomorrow's session of the six a.m. New Testament class she teaches in our home, so that her high-school-age students could stay up late tonight to watch election returns.

I thought of my good friend who until 2008 lived in a country where elections are meaningless, because brutal intimidation and institutionalized voter fraud guarantee that the ruling party is reelected every time. Soon his family will join him here in the United States (legally, in case you wonder). He loves his native country -- but he loves freedom more.

And that's what it's about when we vote.

I have strong feelings about this election -- I regard it as a potential watershed, and McCain is the centrist candidate I support. But I also know many voters who support Obama, and I know their motives are at least as good as mine.

They believe Obama will reshape our country in good ways. I think they are mistaken -- but I can't fault their motives, or the hopes and dreams that are motivating their vote.

I share many of those hopes and dreams. Indeed, I wanted very badly for Obama to be a candidate I could vote for, and was sorry when he turned out not to be.

A good friend of mine -- a strong McCain supporter -- spoke to me this morning and said, "I watched Obama on the news this morning as he went to vote. And I felt such a thrill. Because even though I don't want him to win, I'm so happy that a black candidate was nominated by a major party. It's about time."

I knew what she was talking about. That is universally the opinion of my friends -- no matter which candidate they're voting for. The ones who oppose Obama simply believe that McCain is a better choice. The ones who support Obama do so because of how they perceive his ideals, his character, or his platform -- again, the better choice.

My friends are all thoughtful citizens who cast their votes on the basis of criteria that transcend trivialities like race or gender.

There are surely people in this country who let the color of Obama's skin shape their perceptions -- either rejecting every bit of positive information about him, or rejecting every bit of negative information, because of his race.

There are always people who support or reject candidates for really dumb reasons. Yet still democracy muddles through.

I don't know how the election will come out, as I write this. But I do know that whoever wins, I'm prouder of my country than ever before, because a man with a black African-born father and a white American-born mother could seek and obtain a major party's nomination, and run a campaign that was either victorious or very, very close to being so.

And no matter how it comes out, I'm not moving to Canada. I'll be sticking around to keep on putting in my two cents' worth -- because that's what you do in a democracy. When the votes -- or the rules -- go against you, you swallow hard and vow to work harder next time.

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