Though I was eligible to vote in 2000 and 2004, I did not vote. My reasons were not clear or well-supported, but I felt strongly that to make an uninformed and even unwilling decision was wrong. In neither of those election years did I feel that I knew the candidates nor the issues. I claimed that no matter what outcome, it wouldn't really affect my life.

I don't regret that inaction, but at some point this year I realized that I wanted to make a decision and to vote in accordance with that. I'm not much better informed than I was 8 years ago, or 4 years ago, and I still prefer the hazy sorts of ramblings that I customarily write in this space, but something did change. I felt, finally, that there was a candidate who stood for something that reached beyond the selection of appropriate triage measures. Neither candidate had pleasant things to say about the years that face us -- there are far too many problems to be dealt with in a real and practical way -- but Barack Obama anchored his policies in the message that there is something much greater than mere survival, upon which survival depends.

There was rhetoric involved, but there is rhetoric involved in any speech -- what I responded to was the recognition that our country needs more than a handbook for survival, and that we will not survive unless we remember our foundations and our principles and scrutinize them with eyes opened wide by the tragedies that are faced daily on a global scale.

I voted in the 2008 election, and I am proud of my decision, but more importantly, I am proud of my country -- a feeling which is quite new and still a little strange. We have a lot of hard work ahead, but this is a beginning.