Voting Like the Bear

October 23, 2008

No presidential election has consumed my life like this one. And it will soon be over, creating an emotional and intellectual gap that I’m not sure how I’ll fill. What will I read about incessantly? What will I talk about with family and friends?

All signs point to Barack Obama winning. Unless something momentous happens in the campaign’s waning days, a nagging fear of many Obama supporters. We can’t be blamed for paranoia, considering that this quest look impossible less than a year ago and the recent mob-mentality bile spewing from the other side.

Barring a tragedy so unthinkable that I won’t put it to words, the election is all but over. The biggest question is whether the United States can still hold a fair and free election. And that’s a fear that I never thought I’d have regarding my country.

Much has been done to disenfranchise voters, and these actions have received precious little news coverage. On top of that, many locales seem unable or unprepared to hold an efficient election, judging from the expected record turnout, unreliable equipment, too few voting machines, and generally shocking ineptitude.

If such factors steal the election from Obama, I predict people will take to the streets to fight for a democracy that has been sullied and trampled upon.

But first things first. I’m voting today in what has to be the nation’s most rational election process, Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. My friend Charlie in New Hampshire summoned good mojo by voting yesterday. I hope another high school friend, Mary, has already cast the deciding ballot for an upset victory in Florida.

I’ve preached to them to keep the faith, yet mine hasn’t been unwavering. I should have recognized the omen I encountered in May while driving through a Northern California forest. Like much of the world, even creatures of the woods want to the country saved.