The last few weeks have been torture, both literally and figuratively. Not only are we as a nation on the brink of economic disaster, but we must, in the midst of this financial confusion, also select the leader who will hopefully pull us from the edge and in a direction of promise and prosperity.
I am an optimistic person by nature. My basic philosophy in life is: hope for the best, prepare for the worst. As election day approaches I scan the news, waiting for the disaster I am sure awaits us that will take our already dire situation and make it worse. For me, as an Obama supporter, that could take many forms. Obviously, losing the election to the McCain/Palin ticket would be personally disastrous, but that in itself isn't what worries me.
What worries me is the process, not necessarily the outcome.
While I am not an African-American, I feel their collective pain as a citizen of the world. We have come a long way since slavery, Lincoln, and the Civil Rights Movement, but we haven't achieved nirvana yet. There are pockets of racist people in this country, and they aren't just ultra-conservative Republicans. There are plenty of racially confused people who are registered Democrats, especially here in Ohio. The polls show the race is tightening, as it usually does this close to the end. We honestly have no idea what will happen on November 4.
Despite the polls leaning in Obama's favor, I can't quiet this nagging, unresolved, uneasy feeling I have. Is it paranoia, fear or irrational panic? Or is it perhaps some lingering 2000 or 2004 election hangover? I just don't trust the system. This is why I chose not to take part in the early voting process. When you live in a state with a history of voter problems, have had your lawn sign stolen right from your front yard, and have lost the last two elections despite your best efforts, it's understandable that you might feel a bit… mistrusting.
It was painful in 2000 with Al Bore (typo, but I am leaving it) and demoralizing in 2004 with John Scary (ok, I did that on purpose), but we are now possibly on the verge of electing our first president of African-American heritage. In a country, mind you, which only 50-some-odd years ago would have made him drink at a separate water fountain than his opponent. Seriously, if people tell you race isn't a factor in this election, they are being very disingenuous.
That's not to say that if folks don't vote for Obama, they are racist. That's absurd too. But as a country, we have a history of disenfranchising black voters from the election process and with all the irregularities and voter fraud we've seen in the last two elections, how can a person (especially a Democrat) not be paranoid.
So, yes I worry about my vote not counting; I worry about the votes of minorities not being counted. But, what worries me most is the crushing disappointment that so many will feel if the dream we are all counting on is not actualized.
I know Republicans are afraid of Barack Obama. Change is scary, challenging the norm can frighten anyone. I have been scared for the last eight years under an administration I find foreign and unrepresentative of my core beliefs. But I survived, and so will they. Barack Obama, if we give him the chance, could be the greatest thing to happen to this country in decades. I feel instinctively, despite the scary propaganda machine from the GOP, that this man is poised to do great things.
But this can only happen if we stop being afraid, and right now, fear is about all many of have left. So next Tuesday, I will cast my vote at my local polling station, just as I did in 2000, and 2004, and then I will go home and pray that if nothing else, the process was fair, and the will of the people was done.
And above all, I will hope for the best and brace myself for the worst.