Today we face one of the most important elections in recent history. Many of us have different backgrounds, different political views, different religious and moral structure beliefs that concrete the foundations of our value systems.
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Constitionalist, Green... We all have the right to vote. This wasn't always so. Our nation has an ugly history, like it or not, of discrimination. First we fought for the freedom as a country to even be able to vote, then only the wealthy had a say, then only the white men, then only men (though it was pretty damn hard for African American men to be able to vote for a long time), and then finally women could vote too. And all throughout this time, as parts of our nation struggled to have a voice, those groups were marginalized, mocked, and struggled against prejudice that was supported by violence and hate.
Today we all have the right to vote; yet, still, there's discrimination. Not just white against black, male against female, rich against poor. But straight against gay? Righteous against the impious? Patriots against the so-called "Un-American"?
"We need a common enemy to unite us." - Conoleeza Rice
Perhaps this is why we continue this ugly history of hate. This perspective, this opinion of unity through fear has lead us to where we are today. And while we may argue about how money is spent, I simply look to my hometown, my family and I see the signs the strain of the economy has suffered them. Carthage was once home to several factories and a mine that employed many parts of the town, had several grocery stores that were family-owned and operated, and a thriving Main Street. Today Main Street is almost a ghost town. All but one (if that?) of the factories and mines have closed, having moved to Mexico or unable to afford keeping their doors open. There's a shiny new Wal-Mart Supercenter, but the hometown groceries are falling by the wayside; after all, who can afford to support the often higher prices that accompany local business? And in my own family... My dad has worked for the county for 20 years as a school bus driver. The county doesn't pay for health insurance. And when my mom passed, he was removed from hers. So now he's struggled to get approved by TennCare, and when he finally was, his premium was over half of his monthly paycheck. It's a sad state of affairs for my small home town.
But I have hope. I have hope that no matter who wins today, we should be able to set aside our political differences, our prejudice, our fear and move on to build a future on American soil with American workers that supports a cleaner, healthier planet and a strong economy. In four years, eight years... my small home town can be something to its people again.
I have hope. But I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. Just vote. And when you do, please do don't vote a candidate out of fear, or because he looks cool on tv, or because she's a woman, or because he's black or white. Vote for what you believe in. And tomorrow, win or lose, keep your chin up and endure because the challenges that face our nation are overwhelming.
Together can do this, but divided we fail.