This is an AP photograph you have probably all seen by now -- it's of a Shi'ite woman who voted in Sunday's elections in Iraq. She has the purple ink on her finger that shows that she has voted (they did that to prevent people from voting more than once).
The latest I have heard is that they are going to be counting the votes for some time, but I must admit I am floored by the fact that there was not more violence. There were some bombings, and the Sunni Arabs were not largely represented in the vote, but I was looking for conflagration. It wasn't too long ago that a car bomb killed several people in a Shi'a area and U.S. troops have to deal with IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) all the time. But Iraqis were willing to risk all that to go and vote.
It made me wonder if people here in the States would be willing to do the same. Voting is a right we take for granted here. It's like "you're here, you're of age, you're legal, you can vote." And in 2004 a whole lot of us did, but a lot of us stayed home too.
The Center for the Study of the American Electorate said recently that 122,300,000 people voted November 3rd. That was up more than 6 percent over 2000 and the highest turnout since 1968.
But CSAE also reported that 78 million eligible voters did not vote. Considering that George W. Bush received 62,028,719 votes and John Kerry received 59,028,550 votes, the highest vote getter this past time was "I didn't care."
I wonder if the Iraqis felt that way what their country would look like. I mean the Sunnis apparently did not vote in large numbers, but the Shi'a -- like the woman in the photo --and the Kurds in Northern Iraq did en mass. Isn't it ironic, that we who wanted to help foster Democracy in Iraq didn't take full advantage of it in our own country? I'm not trying to shame anyone, but it seems kind of strange the pride and resolve in that woman's face as she holds up her purple finger. Can we learn from her to appreciate -- and participate in something that we take for granted? The freedom to vote for whomever we please?