Key to election outcome close to home

We are about to witness one of the biggest events in the history of this country.

I don’t know about you, but world events tend to exist as a background to my everyday life. I hear about things happening on the news, but I don’t get the chance to experience them firsthand.

The reasons for this are pretty simple: The first is distance. Globally important things generally don’t happen closer than New York City, and I don’t have the time, money or access necessary to get to where the action is. The second reason is timing. Big events tend to happen unpredictably, so it’s difficult to arrange things so I’m in the right place at the right time.

But sometimes world events do happen near the College; sometimes I do have the time to see them unfold; and sometimes I do know ahead of time when and where to be. In that case, if I choose to not go and check it out, it’s probably because of a misperception.

For example, I may think that the event is a big deal, but not truly understand just how big a deal it is. Here’s an example: who would be more excited to have the chance to go to the 1969 Woodstock: you (with your perspective of it) or the average person who was actually there (without hindsight of the event)? They’d know it’s an awesome event, but only you would realize just how big a deal it really is.

I may also overestimate the time it would take. Like most people, I can spare a few hours to see something interesting, but I can rarely spare an entire day. But what if the event only requires a few hours, but I have the impression it will take an entire day? I’d miss out on something great for no reason at all.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m talking about you. You may be near Woodstock and not realize it; you may be overestimating the time necessary to be part of something big.

Pennsylvania is one of the biggest battleground states this election. The campaigns have spent far more money in Philadelphia than any other city in the entire country (more than $20 million on TV ads alone since April 3). Both candidates have been giving speeches all over the state: I’ve seen Obama speak twice; he was an hour away the day before this was published. It’s truly a front line in this race.

If Pennsylvania is the battleground, the biggest battle left is over voter turnout. When John McCain said Sarah Palin would “energize the base” of the party, he meant she would get the socially conservative Republican base to go out and vote on Nov. 4. It’s a common political gamble to adopt a more partisan platform in order to trade support of moderates for higher voter turnout among an enthusiastic base.

Obama also has to worry about turnout. Statistically, Republicans are more likely to vote than Democrats. In fact, a 50 percent Obama, 43 percent McCain split among registered voters can drop to 49-47 percent when you take into account which registered voters are actually likely to go out and vote (based on turnout in past elections).

The point of this information isn’t to make you feel obligated to help out your side; it’s to make you realize just how important get-out-the-vote operations are.

When is this happening? Every day up until and including Nov. 4. How much time would it take to try it out? Only a few hours – when I’ve gone canvassing in Philadelphia, sign-in was at 11 a.m. and you could leave whenever you wanted. Personally, I’ll be skipping my classes on Tuesday to see it all go down.

Regardless of who wins the election, this is going to be the biggest change in the American executive branch since this nation was created. For the price of a few hours you can see it happening with your own eyes. Democrats: E-mail for information. Republicans: E-mail