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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Frustrated idealism

I’m a frustrated idealist. There’s a huge part of me that wants to change the world, improve the human spirit and condition in life. But there’s also a dark side of me that often wonders, “Why bother?”

Quite simply, the answer to why is: If I don’t care, how can expect others to care? It's not in my nature to give up and walk away. And so that's why I'm feeling just a little buoyant on this election day. Even my children are engaged in the discussion and talking about what's at stake. And so, as I’ve done in every election since they were born, I will take them with me to see democracy in action.

The only difference is that this year I’m not optimistic that this election will be over tomorrow morning. The words "too close to call" keep echoing in my head. It saddens me to think that the chasm between left and right, red and blue will only deepen in light of today's results.

But just as any good relationship—personal or professional—involves a mix of skills and ideas, and diversity of thought, I’ll remain ever hopeful that our country can come back together to address the very real problems facing our future.

And so on the heels of this divisive campaign season, I’m looking at the glass as half full. Early reports from family and friends describe long lines at polling places. Though I've also heard of one story where a voter was harrassed about wearing a campaign button in the polling place. Surely engaging ever-larger numbers of the electorate must be good for our country.

I’m not alone in my hope. This op-ed from NY Times’ Paul Krugman reminds us that there is reason to hope in America.

“I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.

“But over the last few days I've been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I.”

And so do I, so don’t forget to vote.

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