A man holds an "I voted" sticker after casting his ballot at a… (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg )
During the presidential and vice presidential debates in October, The Times gathered luminaries from the left and right to opine in real time about the candidates' positions and performances. On election day, we’ve invited them back one more time to leave us with some final thoughts about the campaign season that’s come to close at long last. With their decisions made and our ballots cast, here are a few of our opinionators’ last words.
It's impossible for me to vote for president without being moved by the sense of participating in history, of altering, however slightly, the course of the nation. Tuesday was no exception. My polling place in Pasadena was cheerful and bustling -- a group of students too young to vote were there on a field trip. They spoke softly and politely, not exactly reverent but clearly respectful.
One worker directed me to the right table. Another helped me sign the book next to my address. But it was the man who handed me my ballot who most seemed to belong there. He was an older black man, one eye gone white, a bit enfeebled. He'd been there all morning, and despite his physical limitations, he tended to his job seriously, dispensing ballots, thanking me for taking the time to vote.
Stanley was his name, and he looked to be in his 80s. That means he is old enough to have had trouble exercising his right to vote because of his skin. And there he was, handing ballots out at a polling place a few miles from the childhood home of Jackie Robinson, in an election to determine whether the country would reaffirm its confidence in Barack Obama.
One great thing about elections is the opportunity for people to get out of their comfort zones and engage "strangers" at their doors. For example, a spirited cadre of LGBT voters have contacted 250,000 Maine voters at the door on behalf of a marriage equality referendum. That's participatory democracy up close and personal, asking strangers to support your right to marriage. It's inspiring and worth remembering at a time of vast corruption and cynicism in our political culture.
I voted proudly for Barack Obama this sunny morning in Mandeville Canyon. I expect him to win because of superior organization, turnout and message in the battleground states. If he doesn't, many like myself will suspect the election has been tampered with. It took me only 10 minutes to vote, compared to 6 hours for voters in freezing Ohio. And it's shocking to see Ohio voters punching their ballots for Obama but seeing Romney's name come up.
Wednesday I resume my opposition to the Afghanistan war, calling for transfer of revenue from war to education and healthcare, and a renewed battle against global warming and, most of all, the tyranny of oligarchies cemented by the Citizens United court decision.
I live in Washington, D.C, which is 93% Democratic. So when we go to the polls for a presidential election, we don't vote-vote, because our individual votes don't count for anything. Our three electoral college votes were already in the tank for President Obama by the time the polling places opened at 7 this morning. In Washington we vote solely in order to make a statement or to send a message. For that reason our precinct's polling place at a neighborhood community center was jammed with long lines by 8:30 a.m. when my husband and I showed up. Statistically speaking the overwhelming majority of those people were Democrats, but most of them didn't need to be there. If 9 out of 10 of them had stayed home, Washington would have still gone for Obama even if every single Republican in the district had cast a ballot for Mitt Romney. But they were at the polls -- because they wanted to send a message that they liked President Obama, or they liked "Obamacare," or they liked Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden, or whatever it is that gets Democrats behind Obama.
My husband and I, who are registered Republicans, also voted in order to send a message. My husband voted for the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, in order to send the message that neither major political party would be serious about doing something about our frightening, spending-bloated $16-trillion national debt, as well as the urgent need to prevent America from turning into Greece. "If we lived in [battleground state] Ohio, I would have voted for Romney," he said. I myself voted for Romney, in order to send the message "Go Mitt!" to the candidate who has at least promised to get rid of Obamacare, with its Christmas tree of silly and expensive programs (there's one currently in operation that pays -- with our tax dollars -- inner-city grocers to stock fruits and vegetables that rot in their bins because nobody buys them), and Obamacare's potential, via those "death" and other cost-cutting panels, to gut the world's best and most sophisticated medical system.