The stakes are high in Alaska too. Alaska is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of statehood. For the past 40 years Ted Stevens has been one of Alaska's two senators. Think about that: Ted Stevens has been a US Senator for the State of Alaska for 80% of the time the State has been a state--Ted Stevens in the Senate is as familiar to Alaskans as the sun rising and setting (or not so much depending on the time of year), as the winter being bone-chillingly cold, as...well, you get the point. And that streak needs to end. In addition to the other problems with his candidacy, for those of you who haven't heard (and have been living under a rock, or just stuck under something heavy), Stevens was recently elevated to the ranks of convicted felon. So Alaskans face an important choice too: become the first state to reelect a convicted felon to the Senate, or send a breath of fresh air to Washington.
There are lots of reasons to vote for Mark Begich, and in accord with providing the official Situational Ethics Dot Blogspot Dot Com endorsement of his candidacy, I will provide one more: he remembered a brief interaction we had years ago. This is how I described it in May:
I met Mayor Begich for the first time about four years ago. I was coming out of the post office and he was in his truck in the parking lot looking through his mail. I walked over, knocked on the window and introduced myself. Then I complained about the long lines in the post office and half-jokingly asked him if there was anything he could do about it. "I'm sorry," he replied, "That's federal. It's out of my jurisdiction."I talked to him briefly at a campaign rally tonight. I told him that he probably wouldn't remember, but that the first time we met it was at the post office. He interrupted me and said, "Sure, I remember. I was reading my mail and you complained about the long lines inside." I told him what he said about not being able to get involved with federal issues as mayor, but that as a senator I expect him to do something about it. He laughed and then told me about his plans to fix postal issues in general and the specific problems faced by rural Alaskan villages.
Begich is the real deal; he'll do a great job. And so will Ethan Berkowitz, who seeks to unseat Don Young (currently under criminal investigation) who has been Alaska's lone voice in the House of Representatives for god-only-knows how long.
I've been watching a lot of the West Wing recently. I used to watch it and wish that, in stark contrast to President Bush, a man like Jed Bartlett was the President. But now I watch it and realize that it is possible. Barack Obama is not perfect, and as we put him on a higher and higher pedestal I am certain he will inevitably disappoint us in some way. But he will also inspire us and guide us through dangerous and uncertain times. And that is exactly what we need right now. To quote President Bartlett, "This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars." So, game on. Go get 'em, boys. You've got my vote.