Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Proud to be an American

We voted this morning. The kids and I walked across the street and up a bit to the Presbyterian church, and stood in line -- in the warm, spring-like sunshine -- for about 45 minutes. We saw quite a few neighbors and folks from the parish. DH came along after we'd been in line about 10 minutes. He was about 20 people behind me, and the children kept running back and forth between us.

I love voting. I never miss an opportunity. You will see me at the polling place in a monsoon in April to cast my vote for one school board member (and my kids are homeschooled!). When the time came to vote in my first presidential election, I registered in the state where I went to college. I wanted to flip the lever (yes, they actually had the old lever machines, and no, I'm not that old) and not just fill in an absentee ballot as I had done the previous two years.

Today, I was struck by the variety of people I saw. We live in a fairly homogenous area: especially in my tiny polling district, there is very little difference among people in race, ethnicity, economics, religion, you name it. And yet, we were so very different. There were several of us moms, with our kids all running around or sitting and coloring in the books we'd brought to entertain them. I saw quite a few senior citizens, some alone, some in pairs, with canes or walkers. (These people likely have a perspective I don't -- yet -- having lived through other "historic" elections and challenging times). There were professionals in business suits or dockers and polo shirts; women dressed in suits and heels; young adults reading novels while standing in line.

Everyone was calm, patient. I didn't observe a single person who appeared frustrated or annoyed with the wait. Even the poll workers were friendly and pleasant, not at all appearing rushed or stressed. Perhaps it was the extraordinary weather, or the feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves. Perhaps it was the "historic" nature of this election: we will either elect the first African American president or the first female Vice President today.

I couldn't help but think that this was so very close to what our founding fathers must have envisioned when they designed this new form of government, and what the equal rights and suffrage workers must have dreamed of: every American adult, of all races, ethnicities, and economic classes, standing up and making their choice... casting their vote. Each of us with the same voice, the same say, the same power as any other.

On this day, no matter which candidate wins, we all do. Capitalism has come under fire lately, with the corruption and greed of Wall Street exposed in the financial crisis. But today, as we stand in line, each of us in our own polling district wherever we live, we are standing up for democracy... for the idealism of true representational government, even in this ever-so-less-than-ideal world.

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