05/07/08 — Democrats: Either way, a vote cast for history

View Archive

Democrats: Either way, a vote cast for history

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 7, 2008 2:34 PM

Amoree Brown walked away from the Wayne County Library Tuesday evening with a round sticker on his shirt -- the words "I Voted" printed across an American flag inside the white circle.

It didn't seem to matter that he didn't cast a ballot.

Or that he is only 4 years old.

At least not to his grandmother, Claudia.

She wanted to plant the idea of voting in his mind -- particularly during this "historic" election -- so that years from now, when his vote does count, he would seize the opportunity.

"Children need to know that voting is something you do," Mrs. Brown said. "Today is the day you make a decision."

She had made hers.

Only she wasn't quite ready to reveal which of the Democratic hopefuls she chose in this year's presidential primary.

She would only say race was not a deciding factor.

And that she took character and speeches on policy into account.

"I chose based on what they had to say," Mrs. Brown said of picking between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "I don't see race. I just see the best man, I mean person, for the job."

But not everyone who voted Tuesday was shy about his vote.

In fact, Johnny Stevens characterized his afternoon as one he would "remember forever."

"This is the first time I've had the choice of a black man for president, and I chose him proudly," the 30-year-old said. "If you had said a few years ago I could go vote Obama today, I would've said, 'No. We're not quite ready.'"

But from the talk at polling places across Wayne County, the nation is ready to break the color barrier inside the Oval Office -- if only in one small tract of eastern North Carolina.

The real issue for several residents was each candidate's commitment to future generations -- their health care and their education.

That was what made up Eva Coor's mind.

Maybe that is why she stood outside her polling station off Ash Street all day encouraging others to vote.

"My main concern is for the betterment of the children," she said. "I must believe in it. I have been out here since 7:45 this morning."

Like Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Coor was less than willing to divulge her pick.

But she dropped a few hints.

"I'm not a race addict," she said about how race might play into a general election contest between Obama and John McCain. "Race is not an issue for me."

And when it came to Clinton's chances against the presumptive Republican nominee, she simply said, "Women are doing great things, breaking barriers."

Still, she is not convinced that the country is ready for a female commander in chief.

"I think that day is going to come and it's going to come soon," Mrs. Coor said. "But I don't know if it will be today."

Michelle Hawkins isn't so sure.

"I think Hillary has a great chance," the 27-year-old said. "People are so used to seeing her in the spotlight, I don't think 'woman' will be the first thing they think about in November."

So what will they think?

"I don't know, maybe they will remember her as a graceful first lady, or an outspoken senator," Ms. Hawkins said. "Maybe they will think about who is really ready to lead this country into a new direction."

Not Joshua Rice.

"When I think of Hillary, I think about the lies she has told the nation," the 23-year-old said. "I think about all the damage she is doing to the guy who is likely going to represent our party. I couldn't vote for someone like that."

So, like thousands of other local residents, he voted for Obama.

"I feel like I can trust him," Rice said. "Just look at the way he interacts with his kids. He could be any of us. And he spoke out about the (Rev. Jeremiah) Wright comments and about race. That's pretty bold for a politician."

Character does not mean much to Mrs. Coor.

More than 50 years of watching politicians in action has taught her one thing, she said.

"I can't depend on character," she said. "Characters change."

And even though "change" seemed like the theme of the day, not that kind.

"We need a real change in this country," Mrs. Coor said. "If we can take it, we sure do need it."

And if the country "takes it," it will surely mean that years from now, when Amoree Brown is old enough to vote, America will still be a country worth taking action for.

"This election is all about these children," Mrs. Coor said. "We turn out for their futures."