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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Being an American Today

I just came from the voting booths in my little town in NJ. I was proud to cast my vote. Proud to be an American, today and every day.

For the last few weeks nothing mattered to the news broadcasters, apparently, other than the US Presidential Election. News reports have, IMHO, been often biased, with sometimes subtle biases, and sometimes not so subtle biases. Saturday Night Live ran an election show last night. While I laughed, I wondered if people were being influenced by the comedy. Influenced enough to affect their vote. One of the comedians, when asked that question, said that if anyone were influenced by the comedy in making their decision that the person would be an idiot and shouldn't be allowed to vote.

But in American, good judgment and bad, well informed and not, bright or careless, we all have the right to vote and our votes count as much as the next person's. And even if Saturday Night Live parodies influence them, they can vote.

And that's okay. It's part of what this country stands for.

But the thousands of newly registered voters...are they real or manufactured? Are people selling their vote for an autograph with a hip hop star or for some other preceived benefit?

Thousands of people are voting early, by mail-in ballots, in ways they never have before. I don't understand how that works. I was told that some can even cast their ballots after the election closes tonight, for up to two weeks. How in God's name does that work?

Election irregularities and fraud are not as race as I had thought. Clean election processes are not as common place as they should be. They are rift with risks and tempations for those who want one or the other candiate elected at all costs. But will this cost be more than Americans can pay?

In Wisconsin people can register to vote today, on the day of the election. That seems to be easy to abuse. Lawyers by the thousands are descending on the battleground states. Other lawyers are preparing the pleadings for post-election litigation.

Already in Ohio two legal actions were heard yesterday on whether challengers could challenge certain voters at the polls. The decisions split, and were brought before the Federal Court of Appeals, and eventually determined in favor of challengers.

Both parties have made claims of fraud, bias and criminal conduct. And both are, unfortunately, probably right.

Dinner discussions among trusted friends have been different too. Presidential candidate or party preferences have now been elevated to the level of abortion rights in not being appropriate for a quiet dinner conversation. Friends are no longer friends having disclosed their true political leanings. Clients change vendors, family members become alienated, business decisions are made based on the presidential candidate preferences. It's gotten mean.

People are more inflamed about this election than any I can remember, perhaps any US election ever. They are angry about statements made by the other party. They take offense at everything donw by the candidates. Churches are pitted against churches. And candidates take pot shots at the religious claims/practices of the other. Everyone is apprently fair game.

The race has been far too negative, far too emotional, far too devisive for my liking. I have a clear candidate, my choice because of the things I consider most important. Do I agree with his entire stance? No. But when it comes to things that matter to me more than others, I have a candidate. I don't know if he will win tonight, or over the next few weeks as the lawyers take control of our democratic process...

But I hope that whomever wins will lead up forward better than we have been led through this campaign, and that friends won't have to hide their political leanings to avoid being attacked over dinner.

I hope that we remember what it means to be an American. I am proud to be an American, but not proud of this campaign and what it has done to us.

my 2 cents.



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