Posted by: beattieblog | November 4, 2008

A Peaceful Transfer of Power

I used to work at a psychiatric hospital. My work there included facilitating a classroom environment where kids with a variety of mental health issues from 6 to 18 could work on class skills. One of the best units I did was a historical look at the most prolific figures of the last millenium. I used a TV program put out by A & E and one of the top 5 people was George Washington (Johann Guttenberg was #1). I don’t remember which historian or celebrity narrated the brief case made for our first president. However, I remember being struck by the statement that Washington facilitated something that had never really happened before in political history: a peaceful transfer of power from one head of state to the next. The narrator talked about how Washington could have named himself king of the colonies and his popularity would have made such a power grab successful. Instead, after he felt his time was done, and despite the pleas of many to stay, he quietly rode his horse back to his farm, Mount Vernon, in Virginia and laid the foundation for what we do in the United States today: vote for another peaceful transfer of power. It’s worth noting that citizens of the U.S. today, having endured the longest, most expensive and invasive election in history, will simply mark a ballot to bring about major change in our country and the world.

I voted for Barack Obama for a myriad of reasons – his persona, his intellect, his inclusiveness, that he stood up against a war that the vast majority of his colleagues supported, his ability to inspire and create a vision for the direction of the country (something we sorely lacked th the last 8 years) etc. I wrestled with that vote for a few: his voting record on abortion, the potential that he will skyrocket spending and expand government in unhelpful ways. But in the end, after 8 years of a Republican in office who I feel has led the country down a destructive path in many areas (primarily the war in Iraq), I could not vote for John McCain. Yes, I realize that John McCain is not George Bush. But his intention to continue many of the same policies, the negative style of his campaign – it’s divisiveness, the invoking of ridiculous images of Obama by him (e.g. pal to terrorist, socialist) and his colleagues (slandering Obama by asserting he was Muslim, using his middle name as a negative, trying to portray him as ‘not one of us’ in many ways) – and his decision to have Sarah Palin as VP wore me out and disgusted me at times. I like John McCain and hope that we will see the return of the pre-campaign John McCain. I think it would be terrific for Obama to involve McCain in a high-level manner (if McCain were willing). But in the end, I voted Obama and will celebrate his victory if that happens today.

I’d like to think that George Washington would be proud that 209 years after his death we continue to transfer presidential authority without a single bullet being fired or tanks in the street or mobs beating their opposition as we see in other places. Another reason to appreciate this election is that we will make history one way or another. We’ll elect the first woman vice president in history (88 years after the right to vote is won for women) or the first black man president just 62 years after the last known public lynching. I love that history will turn a page no matter who wins. Regardless of who you vote for today, I thought these were some things worth noting.

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