We Are the Ones
1992. Clinton is sworn into office. A huge windstorm sweeps through Seattle. At the coffeeshop we joke about "the winds of change". In Washington state a term limit measure has passed. I am violently opposed to this, feeling that we have this power already.
Two years later the US votes in a predominantly Republican Congress. I am not a Republican, but I am pleased. The people have demonstrated their power to limit the term of any politician.
1994. South Africa holds its first multi-racial elections. 85% of the electorate participates. For most of the population, this is the first election in which they have been permitted to participate. For them, a new era begins. In the United States this year, 39% of the electorate votes.
1996. I stand in line in the auditorium of a Seattle school, waiting to vote. Everyone speaks in hushed tones. I feel like I'm in church. This is a presidential election, so participation is higher: 47%.
2000. Many of my friends support Nader. "Republicans and Democratic candidates are in the pocket of the corporations!" They tell me. I agree.
I am not voting for Nader. I do not think he would make an effective president, if only because the major-party congress would join ranks against him. In politics, power is the ability to align others to your cause.
One of the major party candidates has pledged to sign the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. This is one reason I vote for him. We need this, and yet we do not.
I know that candidates, while supported by special interests, are elected by people. I believe that many others have forgotten this simple fact. If we were informed, it wouldn't matter how much any politician spent. Only a people content to be spoonfed platitudes could be so swayed by political advertising. In this sense, we get the government we deserve.
With my whole heart I believe that an informed, involved citizenry can change things. Universal healthcare. Good schools. An end to hunger. We could have pumpkin delivered to our homes once a week if that's what we decided we wanted. But we'd have to inform ourselves, demand substantive reporting, stop accepting easy answers to complex questions. And we'd have to vote.
The man I vote for has a Jewish running mate. This announcement was a bigger deal than I expected it to be. Will we elect first a woman or an African-American president? I find that I hope very much to see them both.
This is an exceptionally close presidential race. I wonder how many people are voting this year.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.