Did you vote yet today? I did. I voted this morning and never before have I felt such a sense of panic and uncertainty for my vote as I did today. It's really no secret that I vote third party. I'm quite vocal about it, actually. I could go on forever about why we need to acknowledge more than just two parties in this country. Our founding fathers warned against a two-party system, and if anything, they feared that a two-party system would mean the end of democracy as we know it. Too much power in the hands of the government is dangerous. And yet, here we are.
So, I walked into my polling place with nothing but total confidence this morning, planning to vote for Bob Barr, although he was never my first choice (Ron Paul, what happened???). Barr has a few opinions I don't necessarily agree with, and frankly, I'm surprised that the Libertarian party nominated him for the win. But it's the belief system of the party that appeals to me. I feel like I have an advantage by living in New York state, a state that is overwhelmingly liberal, and more importantly, not a swing state. As a state New Yorkers always vote on the Democratic side of the line. It makes it easy and comfortable for me to vote third party and not worry about swaying the vote. Had I wound up in a state where each and every vote could mean a turn of the tables, well, I'd consider voting for one of the two major front runners, and I'd take it quite seriously. I spent the morning glued to the television and the internet, though, and it's starting to look like Obama just might run away with the win. The polls, projections and absolute hunches of those people talking through the glass seem to prove that it's a no-brainer. The Democrats will have their chance at power once again. And I'm okay with that. I guess I'd have to be.
But as I stepped into the voting booth (ugh, Cohoes, haven't we learned from the whole chad experience? Can't we do something about these old screwy machines in our town?) this morning, and had my finger pressed on the Bob Barr lever, I stopped and stood there for a few minutes while my brain scrambled a bit. Am I making the right choice? I've thought this out over and over again. I preached to anyone who would listen that voting third party is important if you don't feel strongly about McCain or Obama. I've lectured anyone who told me they're just not going to vote because they don't like one or the other. There's someone out there for everyone. But I panicked. What if this election winds up playing out like the 2000 one where every last little vote needed to be counted and recounted (and recounted and recounted) and my vote really could have made the difference? My finger moved from the Barr tab to the Obama one, and yet I couldn't press down. Do I vote out of principle or out of mercy? Do I follow my heart and go with what I believe in, or do I go against my beliefs and vote for someone I have lukewarm feelings for, simply to escape four more years of nothing but the same? I voted for Barr. And as I walked out of the polling place, a strange sense of overwhelming fear spread all over me. I hope I did the right thing.
I wish Obama all the luck in the world, although anything can happen at this point. Polls are just polls and projections aren't always reliable. But in any event, whoever wins has a long and treacherous road ahead of them. It's going to be an interesting four years, and we're in for a long ride.