It’s been a long journey to tomorrow’s election. For the candidates. For the campaign workers. Even for me.
I was just a child when I first felt a spark of interest in political figures. I remember sitting in our family room, scooted up as close as I could get to one of the giant speakers on our stereo system (amazing to remember the size of those things now that we have it all on little bitty ipods!), and listening to President Ronald Reagan in his debate against Walter Mondale. I loved the sound of his voice! To this day, a clip of Reagan speaking stirs a deep nostalgia within me. I grew up in the era of Reagan and Bush 41; their 3 terms combined pretty much took up my childhood years. Living in south Florida, near President Bush’s mother, it was not terribly uncommon for crowds of us to line the streets when the presidential motorcade drove by and we could wave to the Bush family as they came in town for a visit. It was always exciting to catch a glimpse of him.
By my junior high years, I was really into the election process and paid pretty close attention to it for my age. I also began to take an interest in politics on a local level, and the church and school that I attended did a great job of making information accessible about the various candidates. I was in 7th grade when I wrote my first letter to the editor of the Stuart News and had it published. (it was a dramatic, very juvenile letter on the horrors of drunk driving. ;) But it was a start. It was a passion for being involved and part of the discussion.)
My senior year of high school, I submitted an essay to the VFW “Voices of Democracy” contest and won first place in our district and third in our state. I was SO excited to be invited to a rally later that year. I was asked to read my essay to the crowd that assembled there, and was able to meet our local and state representatives! It was truly an honor.
What an exciting day it was when I first registered to vote! I have lived in a few states at election time since I became eligible to vote. But I have always endeavored to stay informed of the local issues on the ballots, and to be a knowledgeable voter.
For the sake of brevity, I ‘m going to fast forward to the 2007-2008 election cycle. Since that’s where tomorrow’s specific election began for me.
We were coming to the end of a President’s two terms, so the field was wide open on both sides of the political spectrum. (In short, while I didn’t understand or agree with everything Pres. George W. Bush did, I held and still hold him in high regard as a leader and a man of conviction and strength. I miss him.)
But that brings us to 2007. Various people began to throw their hat in the ring on both sides. I can’t remember the number exactly, but it was something like 18 people who started originally on the GOP side! WOW! Some of them I knew a good deal about, and others were only names to me. As with this year, I watched EVERY. SINGLE. DEBATE. Both the Democrat and Republican debates. I should take the time to research how many there were in that cycle as well as this one. But, trust me...it was a LOT. There oughtta be some sort of prize for that, doncha think?!
But I digress....as I watched that stage LINED with candidates in 2007, I was wide-open. I was looking and listening and saying “come on. Show me what ya got. Court me.” I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions or favorites. And I’m not much of a bandwagon girl, so the fact that the evangelical crowd started going ga-ga over Huckabee early on didn’t impress me much. I found him very very likable, a guy I’d love to have over for a meal or something, but I didn’t really see him as a President. (sidenote: Derek and I did have the chance to meet him, shake his hand and have him sign our book about a year later.) As the field slowly began to narrow, Mitt Romney was drawing my attention more and more. He had me at “hello” with his demeanor and speech. I liked what he said and the way that he said it. It was always a great mystery to me when he was denigrated or mocked for his vocabulary or alleged starchiness. I never ever saw him that way. I’ve delved into my psyche a little bit about this, and I think the simplest answer may well go back to my childhood and the male figures in my life: truth is, if you look at my dad (if you know him) or the type of statesman gentleman leaders who were in authority over me most of my life, you will see a common “type”. Well dressed. Well spoken. Dignified. A striving for EXCELLENCE.
That’s what I saw in Romney then . I was sad that the GOP culture was so resistant to him. I wasn’t thrilled when McCain became the nominee. For a number of reasons, I thought we could do better. But I was certain of one thing, beyond the shadow of any doubt: John McCain LOVES his country and his bruised, battered and crippled body bears the scars of that love. So while I may not have been a whole-hearted supporter of him, I found it easy to cast that ballot for him in ’08, if for no other reason than I was certain he would always do what he felt was best for the USA.
As for Barack Obama, I remember my first introduction to him at the DNC of 2004. What a fresh face, an energized spirit, a hopeful tone he presented at that convention! I remember being impressed with what I saw, and filed his name away in my mind with the sense that he would be running for President someday. The day came much sooner than anyone could have reasonably predicted.... I remember when he announced his candidacy...I was on bedrest, pregnant with my fourth child. In the time that had elapsed between these two events, I had indeed learned more about Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois. I knew him to be voraciously pro-abortion, not merely pro-choice. He had championed abortion extensively in his home state of IL. I knew him to be very liberal in all aspects of political philosophy, and to be a “redistribution” advocate as well. He proudly accepted his title when voted the most liberal member of government in DC. That was quite a feat. I watched him squash the longstanding Clinton machine with relative ease, also quite an accomplishment. It had after all, been Hilary’s turn.
I wish I could have celebrated the wonderful milestone of having elected our first African-American President when Election Day 2008 was complete. I felt all the historicity of it, just like anyone! It was a big deal...something I would have been thrilled to celebrate. But the truth was, I knew we were in for a lot of change in America that wouldn’t reflect my values. And indeed, President Obama has proven to be a much worse President, just the job on its face, than I ever expected. I knew there would be Obamacare and higher taxes, etc. That was no surprise. He promised those things while campaigning. What I didn’t expect, was just the general sense that we were captain-less in a storm. He devoted all his time and energy to Obamacare and meanwhile, our economy was just flailing! We have needed a leader at the helm, a person in that Oval office doing the hard work!! But at the risk of sounding trite (and I hate that in political discussion), I confess that I have found it personally offensive the time he has spent on the golf course, and with celebrity fans of his, and on luxury vacations. I fully understand that our president needs time off from time to time....it IS the most important and stressful job in the whole wide world....but I think Pres. Obama has overdone it big-time. Big-time. Somewhere I heard the term Celebrity-In-Chief, and that pretty well sums up my feelings.
For our family personally, the economic conditions of these last four years have wreaked havoc on our finances. When you are living a paycheck to paycheck existence and the cost of basic living just keeps going up and up and up.....you feel that! And we have felt it!!
Enter 2011, and Mitt Romney announces he will run again. Again, I listened to the voices of all those on the stage vying for the nomination. Again, my gut goes back to Mitt time and again. I will refrain from re-hashing the 2011-2012 Primary season. It was brutal. But now that we are one day to Election Day, I am more confident than ever before that Romney was the right choice all along. And who knows, it may have been the way things were meant to be. For I am also certain that Mitt Romney is a better candidate and better man all around for the process of these last four years. There is a surety, a conviction, and confidence that emanates from him. This is the time when the man meets the hour. The challenges we face as a result of the Obama years are a tailor-made situation for a man like Mitt Romney to get his hands on. His whole life experience has prepared him for this time. I firmly believe that he will turn this thing around from the fiscal cliff we’re headed toward. Unlike Obama, I think his work ethic is such that wild horses couldn’t keep him from rolling his Costco sleeves up and getting to WORK on our problems! I think he will relish it.
So, my little trip down memory lane turned out not to be so “little”. And to think, I left out huge chunks of the journey!!
Yes, it’s true that no matter what happens tomorrow God still reigns, and He is still in control and Jesus is still King. I’ve seen those little memes floating around in cyberspace. All those things are true. It is also true, however, that we reap the consequences of our choices. We are being given an opportunity to put a halt to the uber-liberal agenda of our current president. We are being offered the chance to change course in a dramatic way. This does not mean that Mitt Romney is a great savior, or that he is the “anointed one” like Obama was called in ’08. My support of his candidacy and my hope in the success of his presidency is not a blind rock-star faith, like he will save the world. I just think he’ll do the job. I think he’ll do the job well. I think he will renew our bond with Israel, which is kinda sort-of a big deal. I think he’ll make us proud. Not a “we worship him “ proud. Just a “what a great President” proud. There is a difference and I take offense at the assertion out there that Romney supporters are groupies.
I came to my support of Mitt Romney by way of a long and winding road that leads to the voting booth tomorrow. I have prepared myself for the responsibility associated with that vote, I have disciplined myself to be informed, and I will cast my vote proudly knowing that I am worthy of the honor. Of all the votes I’ve cast in my life, this one means more to me than all of them.