Friday, September 26, 2008


The results of ignorance.

Four years ago I made a mistake. I've never spoken about it. Whenever it came up I would either lie or change the subject. I was uninformed. I was naive. I was impulsive and I was stupid.

I voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

I remember watching one of the debates between Kerry and Bush thinking that George W. Bush gave a very strong impression. He looked honest. He looked sincere. Kerry looked cold and indifferent, almost detached. I remember seeing it thinking I liked Bush's approach and when the time came I voted for him.

I was ignorant of the issues. I didn't know the policies of the candidates. I was uninformed of any real politics and only knew what glimpses I saw in the media of the Iraq War; I never gave any real thought to any of it. I was an uninformed voter and I screwed up something bad. I hold some solace in saying that my beloved Minnesota, the state I was then registered in and voted in, did go to Kerry. Even though I voted for Bush, I didn't effect the outcome of the election.

Until 2006 I didn't care for politics. In high school I was actually quite vocal about my apathy for politics. I'm sure almost all of my friends could tell different stories of times when politics would come up and I would respond with a very clear and concise "I. Don't. Care."

I'm fairly certain this reaction is in part from my father. While he was never anti-politics in the sense that I was in high school, he always portrayed a certain disdain for politicians. As a child it's impossible to be raised and not reflect that attitudes of your parents on things you are uninformed about. This reflection of my parents contributes to my support for George H. W. Bush in the 1992 presidential election. In 2000 I was in high school and my apathy was in full swing; I couldn't have cared less who my parents were voting for.

In 2004, as I've admitted, I voted for Bush because I liked how he portrayed himself during the debate I saw. I didn't really pay attention to the issues or know anything about foreign policy. I was the worst kind of voter.

In 2006, while not a presidential election, I turned around. By then the Iraq War had been going on for 3 years and I had followed the news enough to have formed an opinion. I educated myself on the candidates and with the help of some friends found good news sources and objective questionnaires asking me my feelings on the issues and making recommendations of who to vote for. I voted that year and during the rest of the day I sat in MSUM's student cafe eagerly watching the election results. I actually stood up on my chair and cheered when the Democrats won both the house and the senate. Honestly; I did.

Even Elmo likes him!

Tonight I watched the presidential debate between Obama and McCain and following analysis provided on CNN by Anderson Cooper 360. I like Anderson Cooper. He's educated; went to college at Yale and interned at the CIA. He's a good reporter and relatively fair, even if most of CNN swings left. Their analysis was very good and I felt quite honest: the debate wasn't won by either candidate and indeed was actually a very close match. This does not mean the effects of the debate will be even, however. On AC360, David Gergen repeatedly pointed out that while this debate was pretty much a draw and that isn't what McCain needed. McCain is behind in the polls. Tonight the debate was on foreign policy (2/3 of the debate, that is) and that's the area McCain is often seen as an expert in. Obama held his own and even at times outperformed McCain on this topic. This was the subject of subjects that McCain could out-debate Obama in and he didn't. He didn't lose, but he didn't win. From here on the debates will cover topics that Obama has a rather clear lead in in the polls.

McCain needed a win; he got a draw.

I won't be surprised if over the next few days Obama gains a stronger lead in the polls. I hope he does. My political feelings are no longer apathetic nor hidden. I know the issues this time. I've done my research (have you?). I've looked at the candidates and know their positions. I won't make the same mistake I made in 2004. I encourage anyone who reads this to do their research, know the candidates, know their positions, and vote with an educated vote. Don't live with regret and shame like I did.

1 comment:

nae4blue said...

Don't know why I keep avidly reading and commenting on your blog.

Here, here! for your political awakening in 2006.

Obama means higher teacher pay sometime down the road. And if he picks Michelle Rhee to be his Secretary of Education, I'll be happy. No, I haven't heard anything about this, it's just wishful thinking.