Every four years, before I vote in a Presidential election, I make it a point to read a portion of a book by one of my favorite authors - Theodore H. White. White wrote four books that I believe are classics. He wrote "The Making of the President - 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972." I would like to quote a couple paragraphs from the first page of his first book that I find particularly inspiring.
By the time the candidate left his Boston hotel at 8:30, several million had already voted across the country - in schools, libraries, churches, stores, postoffices. All of this is invisable. For it is the essence of the act that as it happens it is a mystery in which millions of people each fit one fragment of a total secret together, none of them knowing the shape of the whole. What results from the fitting together of these secrets is, of course, the most awesome transfer of power in the world - the power to marshal and mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax and destroy, the power to create and the responsibility to do so, the power to guide and the responsibility to heal - all committed into the hands of one man. Heroes and philosophers since Rome and Athens tried to make this particular manner of transfer of power work effectively; no people has succeeded at it better and for a longer time than the Americans. Yet as the transfer of this power takes place, there is nothing to be seen except an occasional line outside a church or school, or a file of people fidgeting in the rain, waiting to enter the booths. No bands play on election day, no troops march, no guns are readied, no conspirators gather in secret headquarters. The noise and the blare, the bands and the screaming, the pageantry and oratory of the long fall campaign, fade on election day. All the planning is over, all the effort spent. Now the candidates must wait."
This is is my 10th presidential election. My favorite vote was my first; in 1972 for my all time political hero - George McGovern. Since then, I have voted every four years; sometimes with great enthusiasm and sometimes with a great apathy. This year is different. I consider this vote the single most important vote I have ever cast. I cast that vote with tears running down my face. Tears of anger for the past, tears of joy for what I hope will happen this week and tears of hope for the future.
Not only did I vote. I dedicated that vote to Barack Obama and many others. I dedicated that vote to John Kennedy who saw the future possibilities, but never lived long enough to see them fulfilled. I dedicated that vote to Bobby Kennedy, someone who reminds me more of Barack Obama than any other leader I have seen. I dedicate this vote to Senator Ted Kennedy with the hope that we can complete a national health insurance package that will be his legacy. I dedicate this vote to Dr. Martin Luther Ling, who believed in the dream, but never lived long enough to see it happen. I dedicate this vote to Rosa Parks who led millions out of the back of the bus. I dedicate this vote to Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis and Jesse Owens who showed extraordinary courage in their daily lives. I dedicate this vote to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner whose deaths made a huge impression on this writer when I was 13 years old. I dedicate this vote to more recent trailblazers such as Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm, without whom this moment would not be possible. I dedicate this vote to Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. DuDois and Frederick Douglass who led the way so many long years ago. And I dedicate this vote to those thousands of nameless, faceless individuals who were beaten, abused, killed, lynched or lived in slavery, all because of the color of their skin. As I dedicate that vote to those people I cry tears of sadness.
I also dedicate this vote to my two sons, age 22 and 20 and to any children they may have, as well as any grandchildren; and to all future generations. I dedicate this with the tears of hope that by actions taken this week and in the future, we have started on a journey of peace, prosperity and tolerance for the entire world.
Now it's time to get back on the phone and to knock on some more doors; and it's also time to get out the kleenex as we enter the week with tears for past misdeeds, tears for what will hopefully happen this week and tears for a bright future led by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but made possible by all those who came before.