About This Election I Keep Hearing About

On my mind, as on all of our minds hereabouts to a greater or lesser degree, is this election we’re having the day after tomorrow. I could talk about poll numbers. Or about the masses of people already going to cast their ballots. Or about the Republican smear that popped up during the Sunday night football game. (OK–I’ll give in to that tempration. It was a spot that featured Obama’s image and the slogan “Hate he could believe in” superimposed on a clip of his former pastor, the Reverend Wright, inveighing in his mild way against racism. The ad takes Obama to task for not condemning Wright earlier than he did and concludes: “Barack Obama: Too Radical. Too Risky. “if nothing else, the ad just shows that it’s never too late to go out with a little class.)

Just now, I happened to see a bunch of pictures of kids at a school in Oakland. Kids doing stuff in the classroom. Kids having fun on Halloween. Kids jumping rope. All in all, a pretty happy-looking bunch–sheltered, at least in the pictured moments, from any concerns their families might be having about jobs or money, about crummy housing or living in the toughest neighborhood in town, about health care or immigration status, about what next week or next year might hold.

What you might see in these faces is just children being themselves. No calculation, no guile, no meanness–maybe they were all on their best behavior. They’re just there in the fun of the moment. But moments like that don’t last long enough, and looking at the faces you see something else, too. It’s tempting to call them our heirs, our future, the people who before long will going out to vote in their own elections. The truth is, I’m not sure what I see when I look at these kids, beyond this: Each and every one of them is worth whatever chance we can give them to become the people, the citizens, we would all like to be.

That’s what my vote comes down to.

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