Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Ponderings

--If I never hear the phrase "voter suppression" again, that would be fine with me.  I cast my first vote in 1984, and I can tell you, it was harder to vote then.  I had to prove that I couldn't be at the polling place before I was allowed to have an absentee ballot.  This year, I've had a multitude of ways to cast my ballot:  absentee/mail-in, early (in all sorts of ways), and today in person.

--A colleague at work who firmly believes in orchestrated voter suppression calls me an optimist.  She is convinced that Republicans will steal the election, and we will never know the truth.  She also believes that a team of 4-6 people, one of whom was George Bush, orchestrated the September 11 attacks.  She says she's cynical.

--I say that she's the opposite of cynical.  In a weird way, she has more hope for humanity, albeit in a negative way, than I do.  I have seen how humans work together, or don't work together, as the case might be.  I don't believe that humans can work together to the extent it would take to steal a nationwide election.  I don't believe that many humans could come up with a plan and then convince so many other to go along--and then they'd all stay quiet about it.  Plus, I've met too many elections officials, workers, and volunteers.  It's really hard to steal an election.  There are so many safeguards in place, among them the honesty of all those workers.

--That last sentence shows that I am truly an optimist.  I've seen too many amazing things not to be a fierce optimist.  Nelson Mandela walking out of jail, Eastern European countries set free:  those are just two of the events that keep me from falling into a pit of despair.

--Plus, I know a lot of Republicans.  They're not that different from Democrats, aside from the radical fringes of either side.

--Let's face it, most of us want the same things.  We want a safe world for our kids.  We want to belive that the future will be better than the past.  We want basic human needs to be met.  We don't want to go to bed with full stomachs if others are going to bed starving.

--Our political system is set up so that nothing too radical is likely to happen, no matter who gets elected.

--And let us not forget that we do have a voice, and we can make a difference.  The people who whine most about having no voice often can't tell me the name of even one of their House or Senate representatives.  But those people representing us do listen.  Go here for one of my favorite stories about a phone call that I made that helped change the course of a bill.  An antipoverty bill seemed doomed to failure, but a variety of religious and social justice organizations mobilized and changed the future of that bill.

--On this day, I think of all the people of the past who had no voice, no vote, the people who fought and organized and protested and wouldn't go away, and now, people like me get to vote.  Black men have had voting rights for longer than females have.  Of course I will vote today.

--I like to vote on Election Day.  The lines are shorter, because more polling places are open.  But more than that, I like the idea that across the nation, people of all sorts are doing this one activity.  I know that many votes have already been cast.  But I like to vote on Election Day.

--I remember past Election Days.  I remember going to vote with my parents as a child; I thought that voting was just the coolest thing that adults got to do.  I remember 4 years ago when my spouse and I walked to our polling place.  We saw a multicultural group of much younger voters walking in the opposite direction with "I voted" stickers on their clothes.  They were so jubilant.

--Not every Election Day can be a day of jubilation.  But it can be a day of gratitude:  it's an amazing concept, this idea of participatory democracy, no matter who wins.

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