April 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Muskets

Last night, I watched President Obama win a second term as president and Washington’s Referendum 74 approval, allowing gay people in the state to marry. I did not whoopee so much as breathe deeply in relief.

As I told my family before the election, this time the election for me was personal. Because Romney promised to eliminate Obamacare on his first day in office, I was terrified. For the first time, I felt that an election could have immediate personal consequences for me.

So I took the unusual step of contacting my family, many of whom live in the swing state of North Carolina, and I asked them to vote for my health care by voting for Obama. Some did, and some didn’t, but North Carolina went narrowly to Romney nonetheless, and I felt respect  for those who told me that they would vote for Romney and why.

In sending the email, I felt a little like I was the first person stepping onto the moon: I was going where no man (or woman) had gone before.

In an email from one aunt and uncle, I read that they felt so strongly about the dangers of an Obama win that they were tempted to move to another country if he were victorious. My aunt and uncle are good people, smart people, and I was struck by how differently we viewed the election but how similarly we believed the outcome’s impact on us would be.

As I watched election results roll in surprisingly early, I thought of how I might have felt last night if things had gone differently, and I thought of how they might feel this night.

Born a Georgia peach and raised a North Carolina tar heel (the state, not the university), I thought of the Civil War and the fact that family disagreements at that time culminated in bloody Antietam and Sherman’s destructive march through Georgia.

I thought, too, of a Somali high school student a few years ago who told me that any president, no matter how much she disagreed with him, was better than the chaos of no president. She knew: her mother and sisters were raped as she escaped through a window in a time of chaos in her home country.

Last night, as Romney made a classy exit and Obama launched his second term, I thought to myself, “Thank heavens that we make these decisions without muskets and other kinds of violence.”

Thank heavens.



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