Sunday, September 28, 2008

Grandpa, How Did You Vote?


Americans are a people who have a love affair with history-making. There are many monumental moments in history when Americans left their gigantic marks in epochal moves that have helped to change the course of history on grand scales. There is no need to recount such historic events to prove the obvious point. Suffice it to say that Americans are presented with another such epochal moment of change-making choice by the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Years to come, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, social scientists, historians, journalists, biographers, film makers and total strangers would be asking eligible American voters of today how they cast their votes on November 4th 2008. For instance, ‘Grandpa, how did you vote in 08?’

Some would answer that it was the first time that they ever voted in their lives, the first time that they participated in a presidential campaign, or the first time they contributed money to a presidential campaign with much enthusiasm. They could look at the grandkid with a broad smile and say, ‘Grandma and I are proud to have helped to elect the first black president of the United States of America.’ Wow!

The future generations would look at your choice as awesome and feel connected to the history that you would make with the way you cast your votes on that day. Many first grade students may be showing and telling about the grandparents who helped to elect the first black president!
Some may vote against the first black president but how would they explain it to their descendants?

Would they lie about their vote and let their conscience prick them for not choosing the road hitherto less traveled on? The sports-loving Americans know when they have a chance to win a grand slam with a slam dunk and they would not pass over the opportunity to win personal, national and international glory with one rare chance to change history with a single vote.

Some Americans would choose the chance to tell their grandkids with a clear conscience that even if they always voted for a different party in the past or because they have always been independent voters, they voted this time to help make huge history by electing the first black president of the country.

Voting for Senator John McCain to be the first prisoner of war who could have become president or to make Governor Sarah Palin the first female vice president are also historic but not on the scale of electing Senator Barack Obama as President and, as his Vice President, Senator Joe Biden (who moved that historic Congress motion for the unconditional release of saint Nelson Mandela from prison that was voted down by some who must now be obviously regretting the way that they had voted down that motion that signified American sound judgment).

Of course, it is not just because the candidate is ‘Black’; he is also incredibly good with sound policies, a solid team behind his successful ground-breaking campaign and with a rallying call for meaningful change that energized millions of voters. In fact, Obama is not even black since all ‘Black’ people are really brown in color; just as ‘White’ people are, without exception, not white but pink in color; just as Asians are far from being ‘Yellow’, for that matter.

It just so happens that the people called ‘Black’ in America have had a peculiar history that makes the voting on November the 4th more symbolic and more significant as a chance to make history by voting for Obama. That is probably why many Americans are yet to make up their minds how to vote on that day, they are probably weighing the enormity of the historical responsibility riding on those votes that they are about to cast. But as Americans like to say, this historic choice is really a no-brainer.

History tells us that the majority of pragmatic Americans would choose to make history by voting Obama-Biden overwhelmingly. And long after the votes are counted and recounted to be certain that all votes were properly tallied, proud Americans would seek to hold the first black president accountable by offering support, criticism, policies, prayers and services to help make sure that their votes would be more than symbolic since they could also help to make his regime one of the most epochal and most successful presidencies ever. The rest of the world would be happy to oblige with admiration for a good example of American democracy. You Go Americans. Si Se Pueda!

Dr. Biko Agozino is Professor of Sociology, Criminology Unit Coordinator and Deputy Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. or

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