It does make me wonder, though: What actually is the most important election in which I have been able to vote?
It seems reasonable confine the question to presidential elections, and to base my answer on several considerations.
- Was there a particularly important issue at stake?
- Was there a difference between the stances of the two candidates?
- Was the difference real, or merely rhetorical?
- Was the issue really a priority to the two candidates, or was it at the bottom of their wish lists?
- Did the issue regard something that a president can actually have an important effect?
My best guess, then, is that the most important election I have voted in was my very first election, the one that elected George H. W. Bush. The issue was the US behavior during the collapse of first East Germany, then the Warsaw Pact, then the Soviet Union itself -- and since nuclear war was a very real possibility, the stakes were amazingly high and the role of the president was absolutely essential. I cannot be sure how Dukakis might have been different, but Bush had much more international experience, and the Soviet Union might have been more reluctant to react by lashing out with Ronald Reagan's protégé in office. One way or another, that was a dangerous stretch of history, and it is something of a miracle that we got through it with no more violence than what happened in Romania, so I would not be willing to change anything about it.