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Day by Day: Go vote and then have a little faith

I realized recently that it has been 40 years since I voted in my first presidential election. It was 1972 and I was 20. Those of us between 18-21 had only had that right for a year. It was a heady thing.

But then those were heady times. The Vietnam War was still waging on and, even though the draft had been suspended by that fall, we worried. Kevin's draft lottery number was 14 and his official status was 1A. But there was light at the end of the tunnel it seemed.

Even though my candidate, the late Sen. George McGovern, didn't appear to have a snowball's chance in hell of beating Richard Nixon, the conversation in the country had started to change. It wasn't just "hippies" who wanted an end to the war, it was their parents and grandparents and straight up college kids and more and more people in Congress.

The things McGovern and Bobbie Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy were saying were starting to sink in and people were just tired of fighting a war that didn't appear to be winnable but that continued to take young Americans' lives and leave so many with lifelong wounds both physical and psychological.

And the message got through. McGovern lost in a landslide but the war ended shortly thereafter, only to be followed by another national crisis -- Watergate. That one still amazes me but it is the best example since Joe McCarthy of what can happen when paranoia replaces reason and those who don't agree with you become not just your enemy but enemies of the country.

But the Congress did something we haven't seen a lot of lately -- they worked together to do what was best for the country. They rooted out the corruption in the cold light of day and in front of the citizens. Nixon was gone and we moved on. President Gerald Ford did a hard thing in pardoning the crimes of the president but it was what was best for the nation -- to move on.

This has been a very long, very long, election season in Hudson, one I am looking forward to putting behind us. It is time for all of us to move on as well. And regardless of who wins, I AM NOT afraid for my country --concerned, but not afraid -- and I think that makes me as patriotic as the next guy.

The truth is that the sky has already fallen in our nation. It has fallen numerous times over our long history and we traditionally do get up and start pushing it back up again. The differences between us have usually been about how to get the blue sky back. But this time around, some see something more sinister afoot, probably as the result of listening to people who have put their own egos and desire for celebrity above the truth.

A colleague reminds us all that everyone is entitled to their opinion -- they are not, however, entitled to their own facts.

There are changes ahead for us no matter who wins the election on Tuesday. No one knows for sure who that will be. But what I do know for sure is that whoever it is -- Obama or Romney -- they are both proud Americans who are willing to take on the hardest job in the world to try and make things better. Of course, I think my guy would be a better choice for women, working people, seniors, students, businesses and our status throughout the world but you may disagree. We're still all Americans.

So come Tuesday, get out and vote and then....have a little faith. It will be all right.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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