We’re Going to Be Just Fine

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Elections, United States

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As the election neared, I heard more and more outlandish remarks about John McCain and Barack Obama. I was told that voting for Obama put me close to the ideology of the world’s tyrants. I read here in the comments that only the stupid, rich and racist are voting for McCain. I’ve seen, again and again, partisans of both sides concocting apocalyptic scenarios should the “other guy” win.

Guess what? It’s going to be fine no matter the outcome.

In America, the distance between the mainstream left and the mainstream right is not that far. Rhetoric and wedge issues make us seem to be at great odds with one another, but we share a large number of ideals, dreams and principles. Both Obama and McCain have made that point this election, but many of their supporters prefer to believe otherwise. They see this election as a battle for America’s soul.

When I look to the left or the right, I don’t see a “soul.” I don’t find the “true” America or a “correct” America. I see two collections of views, often with similar goals albeit different tactics. Sure, I see some nuttiness. I also see a lot of wisdom. But, to me, America’s soul does not rest in one political ideology or one platform.

America’s soul rests in what we’re doing today. America’s soul is democracy.

Our process is messy and often contentious. We aren’t the most civil of people when it comes to politics. And nobody would accuse us of gracefulness. But we not only have the right to express our beliefs, we can vote for them. Obama. McCain. Bob Barr. Ralph Nader. Cynthia McKinney. I don’t agree with all those figures (some I oppose quite strongly), but I’m proud to live in a nation where such diversity exists freely and peacefully.

Our two-party system can make us feel like a nation divided and can lead otherwise sober people to make outrageous claims about their political opponents. At times, I worry that we will fracture along the lines falsely drawn and promoted by those who care about nothing more than power. But then I remember the two parties are by no means monolithic. If the Republicans can house Ron Paul and the Democrats can shelter Dennis Kucinich, then I have faith that we still have enough diversity and enough advocacy of differing ideas to inoculate us against the single-mindedness of the most ardent ideologues.

Perhaps I am optimistic far beyond what is wise. But I love this country not just for what it can be, but for what it already is. And I believe, whether McCain is president or whether it is Obama, we will not only survive but will thrive. You might prefer to believe the fate of the nation hinges on this election. I think the fact that , after 232 years, we’re still having these elections and that they are freer than ever is proof that our fate is sound and our future will be bright.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 and is filed under Elections, United States. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “We’re Going to Be Just Fine”

  1. noc Says:

    Bravo.

    Great post Alan.

    At the end of the day, we are alll Americans, and it will take all of us working together to make a difference.

  2. Jacob Says:

    Alan,

    As a reader who usually disagrees with you (but loves the origins of your arguments) I must wholeheartedly thank you for always thinking about your opinions and making sure that they come from an educated place. It is a true reflection of the strength of this country and on how we as a people function.

    We will all be ok tomorrow. I hope and pray that everyone follows through with the good spirits of the occasion. We’ve been able to stand for 232 years because each transition has worked well (save maybe Lincoln’s). Here is to another 232 years.

  3. Al A. Says:

    I threw my vote away today by voting for Peace and Justice in California and all over the nation. I voted for Ralph Nader for US President and Matt Gonzalez for VP.
    And, I feel good about what I did too:)

  4. Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Memo To The Fringe: The Sky Is Not Going To Fall Says:

    [...] mere fact that your candidate loses doesn’t mean that America is doomed: As the election neared, I heard more and more outlandish remarks about John McCain and Barack [...]

  5. Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    Thanks, guys. Appreciate the kind words. And, Al, I’m pleased to hear Nader still has his supporters. As someone who has voted for more than a few third party/independent candidates at various levels of government, I never believe anyone throws a vote away. The only people who throw votes away are those who don’t vote at all.

  6. George Mauer Says:

    I raced to read your new post eagerly getting ready for some serious interweb commentary argumentation but find myself agreeing with you wholeheartedly. What gives Alan, what gives?

  7. Matthew L Says:

    All the political bashing and bickering has worn my morale thin. Thanks for such a reassuring post!

  8. Holly Arbuckle Says:

    This election was no more fair or democratic than any other in US history. The electoral college in effect disenfranchises tens of millions of voters who don’t live in swing states. The lack of equal campaign funds and media coverage for those third-party candidates you so proudly name has lead to yet another two-party race where the candidates agree more than they disagree. Many states still require a driver’s license or ID to vote (this used to be called a “poll tax” and is racially discriminatory). Many convicted felons have not even been told they can vote. Do you think it’s even safe to call this a democracy under these circumstances?

  9. Judy Says:

    Won’t go into the explanation of a representative republic as opposed to a democracy. I don’t see how requiring a driver’s license or ID to vote is racially discriminatory. Everyone has access to identification. You can’t exist in this society without some sort of ID. If people value their right to vote, then they can make the effort to bring their ID along and register. The whole point is that you must be a citizen of this country to vote in its elections. If the whole world can vote in our elections, what’s the point of citizenship? I don’t know of any other countries that allow noncitizens to vote. That argument is a red herring; the real motivation behind it is to stuff ballot boxes with fraudulent votes. I do agree with you about the third-party candidates. I wonder if the so-called fairness doctrine that is coming down the pike with include equal time/exposure for all candidates. Ha!

  10. Holly Arbuckle Says:

    It’s not a representative republic or a democracy if certain races & economic classes are systematically underrepresented and not given a vote. Many people don’t have ID in this country, and they are disproportionately people of color. In states like Indiana, a driver’s license or passport is required to vote. Licenses can only be obtained at DMV offices, which are often inaccessible without a car. Not only that, but the license costs money – more than many poor people can afford (which again hits people of color the hardest). You can more about Indiana’s law at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10057.html

  11. steeeve Says:

    I really liked the post, i wish more people thought like you.

    I have to disagree with you taking the doomsday cenarios so lightly though. While i dont believe one two or even three terms of bad presidents could truly destroy America, i know we would always be able to bounce back from any hardships.

    There is one question you have to ask yourself..

    In 2000 when Bush “won” did you really think that 8 years later that all this would have happened?
    - 9/11
    - 2 wars that have killed over 4000 americans and hundreds of thousands of poor people in a 3rd world country
    - an entire religion effectively stereotyped as radicals and enemies of america. (if you disagree that that is the case, ask yourself why it’s acceptable for republicans to run attack ad’s saying Obama is a Muslim, but they wouldnt dare bring up his race.)
    - the Patriot Act..
    - thousands of poor people drowned in New Orleans while the federal government did nothing significant to help before or after Katrina.
    - record budget deficits.
    - 12 trillion dollars of debt.
    - government spying on all phone calls made to/from outside the US, INCLUDING soldiers.. without warrants.
    - holding prisoners without due process.
    - torture of prisoners.
    - god knows how much tax money syphoned into Halliburton through government awarded contracts.

    Also within the last month Bush has loosened up regulations on drinking water filtering, air pollution near national parks, security measures on imports (for example checking for smuggled in bombs and such).
    And now hes allowing Uranium mining in national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park

    Im a hardcore democrat and i was VERY angry about the 2000 election.. but the worst i predicted Bush would do was practice the same type of tax/spending policies Reagan and Bush Sr. had, maybe get us in a little more debt. Nobody saw all this coming..

    The power of the Executive Branch is not balanced anymore and no president, Democrat Republican or Independent, is ever going to give up any of that power. So we do need to start seriously considering the consequences of electing the wrong person.

    That being said.. there is a difference between legitimate concerns and fear tactics, and I wish everyone was intelligent enough to know the difference but thats never going to happen unless someday we get to the point where everyone in america is capable of independent thought. Right now there arent enough people like you.

    And yes, i see the irony in me saying this.. but i dont vote for democrats simply because theyre democrats.. i vote for democrats because they support my views. If I were to see someone nominated by the democratic party that didnt support my views i would vote for someone else.

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