To the point week of 09-25-08

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WITH APPROXIMATELY SIX WEEKS to go until this year’s General Election, this country stands on the brink of history – in more ways than one.

One way or the other, history will be made on January 20th, 2009, when either the first African-American President will be sworn in; or the first female Vice President will take her oath of office. Whether it’s Barack Obama and Joe Biden or John McCain and Sarah Palin; that, too, will be determined by a piece of history.

Whether you’re scared to death that Obama is a Muslim; if McCain is a war monger; if Biden is senile; or if Palin is too inexperienced – no matter what is driving you to the polls – the fact is, you’re going.

And it appears that you will go in record numbers.

The 2009 Election is seeing unparalleled interest from all sectors of this country. Minorities, young people, and others who have not been a part of the political system before are suddenly registering to vote so that they can make their opinions known. Some may see that as a scary trend; while others embrace the idea of more people being a part of the political process.

I recently looked at a map on CNN.com that gives a breakdown of Electoral votes that each candidate either: has comfortably locked up; or a state is leaning toward a candidate; or a state that is considered a toss up.

Red states were strongly McCain. Pink states were leaning toward McCain. Blue states were Obama; while light blue signaled a preference for Obama. Yellow states were up in the air.

If a person looked at nothing but the map, it would appear that there really is no reason for an election at all – because it’s almost all pink or red.

But if a person looks at the electoral vote count, Obama is very close to the number of electors needed to secure the presidency.

Are we headed toward a repeat of the 2000 election, where Al Gore won the popular vote and George Bush claimed the White House?

Possibly, but there are millions of new voters who are banking that their vote will count.

It’s a wonderful and unique time in politics, because no matter who the next President of the U.S. is; no matter who the next Governor of Indiana is; or the Ninth District Congressman; or the members of the Switzerland County School Board – people really feel as though their ballot is making a difference.

Red States and Blue States will – at some point – become Purple States.

Because no matter who is sworn in. No matter what color his skin is or what gender his second-in-command is – those two people will still lead this country for at least the next four years.

Like a marriage – it will be for better or worse.

And – in a time when financial institutions are being bailed out by the government and being taken over in order to prevent bankruptcies – there may be more “worse” than “better”

So what will the next six weeks bring?

I hope that people will stop assuming that emails that have been forwarded 20 times are Gospel; and instead will begin to read and study issues and positions for themselves. Don’t cast a vote based on fear or ignorance; but take the time to decipher the verbiage and cut through the “spin” and see what the real positions are.

Now that I’ve suggested educating ourselves on the issues, I should also warn you that finding those positions won’t be easy.

Emails tend to smear the other candidate more than promote the favorite son. Websites for candidates include slanted arguments. National media is thought to be biased and unfair. Some conservatives believe that it is impossible to hold Christian values and support one candidate over another.

So try and fight through all of that and gain some understanding of where people stand – and you might start locally and work your way out.

When a county candidate knocks on your door, take a few minutes after they hand you a business card and ask them where they stand on issues that are important to you. You may also attend the local “Meet the Candidates” forum that will be held in the Historic Hoosier Theater on October 23rd, and listen to the answers that candidates give.

Read about Bob Bischoff and Jud McMillin; about Mitch Daniels and Jill Thompson; about Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel. If you get the chance, talk to them in person.

Do it because it’s important. Your vote does count, whether you think it does or not. The only time it doesn’t count is if you don’t use it.

Now get out there and educate yourself.