There is a strange phenomenon surrounding Presidential elections. Somehow we remember which candidate we voted for. Often, though, it becomes difficult to remember either who lost, or all the other people on the ballot that year. I clearly remember in my first election voting for Barry Goldwater (yes, I'm still proud that in the State of Missouri I was the guy who voted for Barry). But who else was on the ballot now eludes me.
In every election since 1964, I've voted for whoever the Republicans could talk into running for office. This says a great deal more about my own narrow-mindedness and ultra-conservative right-wingedness than the quality of the candidates. To the best of my memory I have only voted twice for the guy on the Democrat side. I voted for Brad Ellsworth in 2006, and I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. In both cases it was simply because I liked the man and hoped he'd best do God's work on earth. Presumably age has enlightened me regarding my electoral assessments.
I am glad electing the President of the United States does not come down to who I like, and that we as a nation made a national choice. And I am ecstatic I don't have the job. Nationally and internationally our new President faces a world and a responsibility such as no mere man has faced in a very long time. Some compare his situation with the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt at the beginning of the Great Depression, or to Abraham Lincoln at the point of Civil War. Some even compare the challenges facing Barack Obama to those which faced George Washington -- when there was no assurance whatsoever that the government or nation would survive at all.
I for one do not honestly know which of the available candidates, if any, would be better able to handle the tasks our new President faces. To paraphrase Harry Truman when told he was now President, the weight of the sun and moon and all the stars now fall on this "big-eared skinny black guy with the funny name" we liked so much and on whom we just chose to impose the unimaginable burden of being President of the United States of America.
There is a story told of Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Dr. Franklin is said to have asked a gentleman who sat next to him whether he had taken notice of the picture of the sun embossed in the back of George Washington's chair. The gentleman replied that he had, but not with any particular attention. Franklin observed he had viewed the picture throughout the convention and had not been able determine whether the sun was rising or setting. But now that the Constitution was completed he was sure it was a rising sun. Franklin never met Roosevelt or Lincoln, or Obama.
Success or failure, rising sun or no, none of us will ever forget who we voted for in 2008.
God's speed Barack Obama
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.