Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

Like millions of other Americans, I went to my polling place this morning. A beautiful, uncharacteristically warm late autumn day. No lines at the town gymnasium, a perk of living in small-town Vermont. Our ballots are of the fill-in-the-circle (completely!) variety, and I checked mine several times to make sure I'd filled in the correct circle for President. As we were leaving, we picked up an "I Voted" sticker, which also said, "Early Ballot." When we told one of the elderly poll volunteers that our sticker wasn't quite accurate, since we weren't voting early, she said, "It's still early in the day!" It is that.

Since I was first eligible to vote in 1980, I have voted for exactly one winning president: Bill Clinton. After the close-but-no-cigar (or win-but-still-no-cigar as the case may be) elections of 2000 and 2004, I, like many people, despite what all the polls are saying, will not be popping the champagne cork until the win has been confirmed. But, at the end of this long election process, it really does seem that historic change is in the air. I hope that everyone who tries to vote today will not be disenfranchised by long lines or artificial hassles. I hope that everyone's vote will count. I hope that tomorrow will be a new day for my country, because we need one.

As endless as the campaign season has seemed, it will be sad in some ways to have it over. The level of engagement, as ugly as some of it has been, was inspiring. If that level of engagement carries over to the work ahead of us, maybe change really can happen. But the election's not over until every ballot has been counted. It will be an exciting day and evening ahead.

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