Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting along racial lines

So, I voted earlier today. Most of the people who work for me asked for permission to come in late or leave early so they could vote. The younger ones, knowing I get in to the office before the polls opened, started pushing me to leave and vote around 2:45. I thought it was funny - as if I wouldn't vote if I didn't leave the office by 3. I live in a dinky township really close to my office, I left at 3:30 and was home by 4:00 and, yes, I voted in between.

Only a few of my direct reports have made comments that let me know what their political viewpoints are. From that I'm absolutely sure that the one who idolizes Chuck Norris will be voting McCain, the other one that I know is a Republican is likely to vote McCain as well (though I think she'll do so pretending Palin will not have any impact on the country). I have one employee who was undecided - I asked her how the heck that could be? She admitted she comes from a mixed family (mom's a Rep, dad's a Dem) and just hadn't sat down to really compare and contrast the two candidates for herself. I think she spent some time today finally doing some research. The ones who were pushing me out the door to vote included the undecided voter and a bunch of folks I'm pretty sure voted for Obama. A couple of them said something along the lines like "go and vote right" or something like that. . . there was something else muttered between them that I didn't quite hear but I swear it was something like "she's voting Obama" and it was said with a hint of pride. That is how I voted and while much of my staff has noticed that, since starting at my job, I have gone out of my way to bring racial/ethnic diversity to the group, the two who made the comment are brand new (1 just started on Monday and the other started 2 weeks ago). Something about that exchange tickled me - I feel like the cool Aunt or something.

In all honesty, I have my concerns about Obama's ability to hunker down and do what needs to be done (that's why I voted for Clinton in the primary) but his first decision, to pick Joe Biden as his running mate, was a good one that made me feel more comfortable with the ticket. I voted for Obama-Biden because I think it is a superior ticket than the competitor. Obama's race and his (bizarrely contested) religion had no impact on my vote.

Since casting my ballot, I've been home listening/reading to the news. I'm hearing a lot of the same stuff we've been hearing for the past two years which includes a lot of Republicans snarking about black people voting for Obama only because he's black. There are probably as many people voting for him solely because he's black as there are voting against him solely because he's black. I'm sure for black people, especially those who lived through the civil rights movement, there's a major "wow" factor in being able to vote for Barack Obama with a legitimate belief that he may really become our next President. I know that, even for a white woman like myself, there was a bit of a "wow" factor to casting my ballot for Obama.

So, as I think about this, I am reminded of the Republican base and how they push for the election of "Christians" and I wonder how it is somehow bad for a black person to vote along racial lines in this election but perfectly acceptable for the Republican base to vote along religious lines?


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