Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012: A Mystery as Always!

The pundits don't know it all, as Truman famously learned.

You can take all the polls you like: but you can never actually predict the outcome of an election. President Truman learned this when he went to bed the night of November 2, 1948 knowing he had lost, and waking the next day to learn that the pundits were wrong and he had won. 

The photo of Truman holding the Chicago Tribune headline has gone down in history. President Truman was a veteran, and a good man indeed.

I want to say several things about this day.

Four years ago, when I voted in the presidential election as a Florida resident, I waited in line for three hours to cast my vote. I had never done that in all my years of voting. That was a sign that a lot of people who didn't usually vote were turning out. Barak Obama won in Florida with 51% of the vote, in a state that had been generally considered to be conservative. That was a really big deal, and proved to be a nationwide trend.

Today I've returned to my home state of California to live--a solid Blue State--where the pollsters aren't even polling as they are so sure it is firmly in Obama's column. They are probably right. But this is what I saw when I went to the polls at 7:50 this morning:

There was no line. Nothing. Three or four people voted while I was there. We can only guess what this means. My precinct may be an anomaly. I may have hit the polls at just the right/wrong time. Or, it could mean the turnout is lower than in 2008, which is my guess. We won't know until the polls close. 

The second thing I want to say is that I'm really sorry to have been hearing people say: "I'll be glad when this is over." I understand the 24/7 overload people must be feeling. Still, we have to realize how lucky we are that we get to do this? And not get shot for it or arrested? It is still a rare right on this planet. Thanks to our mother country, Britain, for the Magna Carta that started it all in the year 1215. And to good King John for signing the thing. 

Thanks is also due to my late father and all our veterans who have given up years of their lives, and, sadly, some of whom have given their lives to secure these rights. They have had to do this because you can't always shake hands with the devil and bring him to reasonable thinking. 

Thirdly; I think it is time that someone who understands complex equations looks at this nation's finances and I'm hoping this election will lead us to that. Just as higher prices at Walt Disney World don't always lead to more people visiting that theme park and thus lead to higher profits: higher taxes don't always bring more revenue to the U.S. Treasury. Higher taxes often make people change their behavior. Whether in the White House or in Congress (both, would be nice)--I'm hoping our leaders will sit down and ponder this. Otherwise, we really do face bad things ahead. Complex thinking is necessary to solve a complex problem. Simplistic slogans will not.

Finally, as I walked to the poll on this gorgeous autumn morning, I reached the bridge over Adobe Creek, a creek I crossed hundreds of times as a child. I saw the "Vote" sign under the ancient oak trees that were here when the padres came. The few people at the polls were chatting with the volunteers about where they lived and where their kids and grandkids were going to school. I am back in my hometown now, and know each road and oak tree from riding my bicycle around it as a child. How beautiful it seems to me. How lucky I feel to be home.

Most of all today, I feel lucky to be an American. I have voted and I have my preference: but I will support the winner and pray he does what is best for this country we love.

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Janet Grunst said...


Our polling places all have long lines, but we only had to wait 20 minutes. I love to see the folks exercise their right, and responsibility, to vote and be heard.

Robin Chapman said...

Morning after thought: our president will need a lot of help to deal with the problems he faces. Fortunately, the New York Times will be right there beside him.