On Tuesday voters in Dukes County will go to the polls to cast ballots in the race for the Presidential nomination which has so electrified the nation.
In recent decades primaries have become humdrum, predictable affairs and more often than not voters may not have bothered to cast ballots, believing — perhaps correctly — that none of it mattered.
But not this year.
The mood of the country has been something to watch, as contenders in both major parties battle it out on a national stage that began with the Iowa caucuses in early January and has since moved through New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
By this time next week a good deal of sorting out will be done, after twenty-four states, including Massachusetts, hold primaries or caucuses on what has come to be known as Super Tuesday. Newspapers, radio and television have been saturated with reporting on the Presidential campaign, and the race is expected to come down to four key contenders: senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side and Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on the Republican side.
On the Vineyard, traditionally insulated by a separation of seven miles from the mainland, voters have caught the national mood, a restless clamor for change unlike anything the country has seen since the social revolution of the sixties. Go to any coffee shop on the Island and you will hear the same conversations playing out: the war in Iraq, a rapidly crashing economy and climate change are all issues of grave and pressing concern.
And so on Tuesday voters here are expected to join hundreds of thousands of others by casting ballots for their candidate of choice.
In a world with so little hope, that is a positive thing. It calls to mind a column written in November of 1966 by the late James (Scotty) Reston in the New York Times, who also was the former publisher of the Gazette. He wrote: “Nobody can follow an American election without being appalled by all the noise and nonsense and yet impressed that the system works as well as it does . . . . Nevertheless, in some mysterious way, the principles of freedom and democracy still manage to work on a continental scale among people whose interests are different from one region to another. This is not true anywhere else in the world.”
Polls are open Tuesday from seven in the morning until eight at night. Remember to get out and vote. This year you can make a difference.