Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Super Tuesday?

Are you voting today? Our elections are next week, and I'll be at the polls voting for school board members and judges. I'm a registered independent, which means I don't get to have any fun in the primaries.

I remember in the 1980's, when I lived in South Carolina, anyone could vote in the primaries. That might have changed, since organized people could often perform mischief. I remember voting for Republican candidates who were just goofy, in the hopes that the Republicans would be stuck with a candidate who had no hope of winning.

It's a charming naivete in retrospect, isn't it? This idea that me, one little voter could change the course of an election.

For many people, Barack Obama was the first black person they voted for. Not me. I voted for Jesse Jackson in 1988, and I wasn't the only South Carolina voter to do so. He made a surprisingly good showing in that state, and his campaign got a boost. Southern states realized that they could affect national elections in this way, and the idea of Super Tuesday was born (today is not Super Tuesday, let me point out).

I remember feeling thrilled to be voting for Jackson, even though I've come to be less thrilled with him through the years. I loved the idea of a Rainbow Coalition. I wanted a candidate who would take the side of the poor and the oppressed. I still do.

Last night, as I listened to messages on my answering machine, I came to one message that it took me awhile to decipher. At first I thought it was a wrong number. It sounded like a hysterical woman. I wasn't sure she was even speaking in English. But soon, I got used to the lilt of her island accent, and I realized that she was calling me to implore me to vote. She had an enthusiasm and an urgency that was lacking when I got the robocall from Hillary Clinton's campaign.

What a great country! Even though it does take a chunk of money to run a national campaign, it's still fairly easy to run for the local school board or the city commission or even a state office, in some states. For those of us who dream of making a difference that way, we still could.

Election season is upon us, and it's important to remember our civic duties, which includes voting. I might even argue that it's our civic duty to try to change the system if we don't like said system. I would argue that it's our civic duty to have faith in our governmental structures, even if we don't like their current incarnation.

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