04 November 2008

Election Day

The question du jour is whether I will be able to vote in my native country’s Presidential election.

When I requested my absentee ballot, I expected to be in France on Election Day. As it happens, I’ve extended my stay in the United States. No one is quite sure where my absentee ballot is, since the post office in Beynes insists I’ve had no mail at all in the past month. (This raises all kinds of interesting philosophical questions. If an American Express bill falls in the forest, and no one delivers it, do I still have to pay it?) Because I requested that absentee ballot, I may be disqualified now from voting at home. Or I may not. I am, after all, registered in Harlem. Thus we are talking about the rules and practices of the Board of Elections of New York State, and our particular state is, G*d bless it, deservedly not famous for bureaucratic efficiency in any department.

Sometime today, I will make my way to the polling place where I last voted, in 2004, to beg for the right to cast a vote for President. This is exciting. Middle-aged white guys from Very Old Southern Families don’t ordinarily have trouble voting. We are more likely to make trouble for others. Will I be discriminated against? I’m almost giddy with the prospect.

There’s little chance that my vote will affect the outcome of the election, one way or another. My neighbors in Harlem are likely to agree with me, and New York’s electoral votes are likely to go to Senator Obama. Which is as it should be.

I spent a long time belaboring a little article for this space, on the subject of endorsements and bias in the press — and after several attempts, I abandoned it. I feel strongly about the subject, but this isn’t a political blog. And while it’s clear to frequent visitors to this space that I find little to admire in the Bush Administration, it’s also clear to me that my political analysis is of limited interest to anyone, even to myself.

When I came to France, at the height of “Freedom Fries”, I often detected a slight hesitation among the French I met, a tensing of the muscles. Yet invariably the French relaxed as the thought visibly crossed their minds: if Bill Madison is in France, he must not be one of those ardently pro-Bush Americans. My readers probably have made the same observation, one way or another, and thus it’s no secret that I don’t support the Presidential candidate who sided with Bush 90 percent of the time and who promises only minor and cosmetic changes in Bush’s policies. (Is it biased to say so? Or am I announcing the results of a fair and balanced assessment? Go figure.)

I’m supporting Obama. He’s smart, he’s tough, and he’s serious. I don’t harbor illusions that he’ll make of this nation a New Eden. No one could resolve entirely the problems before us, but I do believe Barack Obama will seek real remedies to our manifold crises. He is our best hope. If he wins, I will celebrate not just change but renewal for my country.

...And if he loses — I will seek French citizenship.


Unknown said...

You got to vote, and Barack won. For at least a few days, all is right with the world. I don't imagine that Barack will be able to do everything he wants right away, but at least now I have faith that our next leader will be acting in our best interests, to the best of his ability, and that is all we can ask for. And for a change, we will have a President who can actually construct complete, even complex sentences, and has the intellect to understand the issues. Why did we have to wait so long for this? When was the last time we really had it? Those are among the mysteries of our great country.

Anonymous said...

Here's my vote, now that my vote for Barack has been counted: I vote for Bill Madison to spend more time stateside -- and come visit all his friends. Now that Bush is gone, you have few excuses and lots of positive reasons to be home, qvelling with pride like the rest of us that we helped turn America into a place that's starting to fulfill its promise once again. Plus we need your good company.