So it comes down to this. After Republican debates with as many as seven candidates, the primaries, the conventions, the Presidential debates, and the “closing argument”, America finally elects a President tomorrow. If you have a definitive opinion, one way or the other, about who should be President, it's nervous time.
Four years ago, I think it was safe to say that those who supported Barack Obama were pretty confident, but wondered if his election was really going to happen. Now, those same people (or maybe not quite as many of them), go to bed wondering if he'll get to say in the White House for another term. Polls in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania have Obama leading, but by a statistically insignificant margin. In other words, anything can happen.
As someone who has been without full time employment during most of Obama's term, I have a stake in this. I'm not totally pleased with the President on the economy, but I think about what would have happened had there been a Republican in office. It's the first time in my life that I can think of, where it directly mattered to me who was sitting at the big desk. While I was collecting unemployment benefits (which is never referred to as “unemployment insurance” any more, even though it is—you pay premiums out of your paycheck when you are working, to cover you if you get laid off), there were several occasions where Congress had to vote to extend the benefit period. Every time, Republicans threatened to block passage of an extension, and every time Obama intervened. So personally, I can say with certainty that I am better off because of who the President is. Kind of weird really.
By now you know the differences between the two candidates. I've always thought the basic philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans is Democrats first say “What can I do to help you?” and Republicans say “I want to protect what's mine.” It's an oversimplication of course, but it seems to me that's what it comes down to. I currently don't have health insurance, but when I get some with my next full time job, it will be easier to keep, and more affordable for me to pay for individually if I have to. At least that's if what's known as “Obamacare” (I'm glad the President has come to embrace that term) remains. The main provisions of the law don't kick in until 2014 anyway, and those that are happy with their coverage will see no difference, so I really don't know what the problem is. Mitt Romney vows to repeal Obamacare, even though he created the model when he was governor of Massachusetts. I wanted to see the reform go a step further, and create a single-payer provision that would make health coverage more affordable to individuals. Didn't happen.
There are the social issues, too, and I don't have to tell you what they are. I have many friends who are Republicans, and some of you are even reading this. You have your opinions and will vote accordingly, but personally, I don't know why anyone other than a wealthy white male would vote for Mitt Romney. I have to say, on the eve of the election, that I truly am afraid of what will happen if Mr. Romney wins. Maybe it's just the fear of the unknown, but it's also the fear of the unknown, coupled with what's been said over the last two years. I'm not comfortable with what I've heard.
So Tuesday, we vote, watch, and wait, knowing that it could come down to one battleground state like Ohio. Maybe the race will be decided by the House of Representatives (in an electoral tie), or by the Supreme Court (like the Bush-Gore race in 2000). Maybe Obama gets re-elected by the electoral vote, but Romney wins the popular vote. Maybe Obama carries every state he did in 2008, and it's all over by 10 o'clock. Maybe. It's nervous time.
Superstorm Sandy: A complete hypothetical here, but what if Sandy struck the east coast exactly one week later (which would be tonight, and the eve of the election)? Would the entire election be postponed? The storm really only did damage to two states, but affected, either directly or indirectly, an area where one-fifth of the U.S. population lives. I think the east coast bias would prevail, and the election would be delayed. We'll never know.
Flip-flopping: After two-plus years of this campaign, you are a fool if you haven't picked your presidential candidate by now, but there is one issue into the late hour which I am still undecided. I have marked my sample ballot “No” on Proposition 30, a tax increase which would eliminate proposed education cuts. The measure provides a tax increase to the wealthy (doesn't affect me, so I'm fine with it), but also adds a quarter-cent to the sales tax. I know that isn't much, but California's sales tax is already the highest in the nation, and this could set a precedent for other budget issues (I hear the voice of my frugal grandfather who grew up in the Depression, and always said if it cost him money, he was against it). Plus, I'm against sales taxes to begin with. It's a double tax. We get taxed when we earn the money, then we get taxed again when we spend the money. But having said all of that, I still may vote for Prop 30 anyway. I'm afraid of what may happen if it loses.
This is why voter interest is low: I give to you Yuba County, California Measure T. This is the county where I live, and the issue here is something about preserving open space, I think. The measure is one 57-word sentence that ends with a question mark, to which you are supposed to answer Yes or No. It reads as follows: “Shall any lands presently designated 'natural resources' on the Yuba County Land Use map as part of the General Plan adopted June 7, 2011, remain so designated until 2030 unless annexed to or otherwise included within a city or town, or unless such designation is changed as to natural resource lands by the vote of the electorate?” Instead of “Yes” or “No”, the choices should be “Whatever” or “I don't think so.” Maybe you could choose a third option, “Huh?”
Measure V: The other Yuba County measure (there is no Measure U for some reason), is as simple as T is complex. It's ridiculously simple. Should the school board have seven members or five? I can't find the bubble that says “How the hell should I know?”
R74: I don't live in the state of Washington, but approval of this referendum there would legalize gay marriage. This is very important to one friend of mine in particular, and she hopes to get married soon if the measure is approved. With the presidential race and all the other contests around the country, I'm not sure how much national attention this will get, but I will be on Washington's election site and monitoring the returns. I'm rooting for you, Kelly.