Election day fever has me in its throes! As I write this, Obama is projected to have won 207 electoral votes, and John McCain 138. At this point, if Obama continues to win all the states that John Kerry picked up in 2004, he will be the next President of the United States. As a big fan of science, health care, and rationality in general, this is fantastic news! I’ve also never voted for a successful presidential candidtate in all my 26 years, so it would be nice to break the trend early. (Knock on wood.)
Anyway, the Internet has election coverage up the wazoo, so I’m not going to add to it. I’m going to discuss the historic nature of this election, and how it relates to a rather touchy topic: Senator Obama’s race.
The obvious reaction is to be excited. Barack Obama stands very likely to be the USA’s first black President. (And it only took 222 years!) For a lot of Americans, this development captures perfectly the American dream: that anyone, regardless of race, creed, or sex can aspire to the nation’s highest office. The feeling was just as potent during the primaries, when it became clear that, should the Democrats win the White House, we would either see the first black man or the first woman to take the Oval Office.
The other side of it is a bit less excited, and a bit more rational. Race does not matter an iota. It is a non-issue. It signifies nothing more than the color of one’s skin and some minor points of bone structure in one’s face. It has no impact at all on one’s ability to fill an office, and a voter’s choice should not take it into consideration for a moment. I certainly didn’t when I filled out my absentee ballot. If Obama had run on McCain’s platform and vice versa, I would have checked McCain’s box without hesitation. The historicity of Obama’s campaign has not entered my decision, and I think that’s true of most other Americans as well.
In the end, however, and acknowleding fully that a candidate’s race is wholly immaterial, I have to admit to being excited. My country is showing that it has grown beyond petty discrimination based on superficialities. My country is showing that it can choose a commander in chief based on the issues that matter.
Forgive the plug, but that’s change I can believe in.