When my sister and I were little, Dad made a point of taking us along to vote.
Back in those days in Maryland, the voting booths were literal booths — complete with long curtains — and I thought it was so cool, so mysterious, to walk in and enclose yourself in that space.
Dad patiently went through the ballot, whispering to us about who was who and what was what — pretty impressive considering we were, you know, in elementary school. But my parents never talked down to us. As Dad pointed out the various candidates, he’d let Katie and I turn the little levers that would officially cast his vote. And when it was done, we’d go to lunch.
I usually vote on my own these days. Everything is electronic. I’ve cast my ballot in every election since I turned 18 — because I can. Not to get all This is America! on you, but . . . this is America. One of the tenets of our freedom is the ability to choose our elected officials. And if you think your one vote doesn’t matter, it does. Maybe now more than ever. (And I guess we say that every four years, but I believe it to be true.)
My polling place wasn’t crowded this morning — which makes me a little nervous. In 2008, I waited at least 30 minutes in line. One of the gentlemen working noted the line was out the door at 6 a.m., and I really hope that was true. Early voting was certainly popular here.
As I walked up today, I felt a twist of anxiety, just like I always do — nerves while staring at that empty ballot. Tapping out each choice. Though I’ve poured over the ballot several times, reading up on everything I thought I might need to know, there’s still a moment of hesitation. Am I making the right choice? Is this the right thing? Is he the right person?
But we can never know. We just have to choose.
And I hope you’ll choose, too.
I didn’t watch the debate last night.
I would rather watch the warm fall rain sliding down a window, the foam of an extra-creamy latte. I’d rather lose myself in another DVR’ed episode of “New Girl” and curl up with The Casual Vacancy. I can crochet scarves, work on my travel memoir (which I will do), pet my dog, tease my boyfriend.
Anything is better than getting battered by politics.
American discourse is so ugly at the moment. Between the Facebook rantings, nasty Twitter posts, endless political commercials cluttering up my otherwise peaceful watching of “Jeopardy!” and the fact that the candidates are everywhere, I’m anxious and annoyed all the time. I know some political buffs live for this, but it’s just . . . making me unhappy.
We talk about the need to “unplug” at times, shunning our computers and social media in favor of a peaceful walk, some time with family. I don’t have the option of ducking my desktop (all work) and iPhone, but I can choose not to spend my free time feeding into the general anxiety of the current political environment.
An author friend wrote on Facebook last night, “To me, the debates contribute to what I call the ‘invisible stress’ that’s permeated our society after 9/11. Things have just gotten nastier, the atmosphere poisoned by greed and fear. The last way I want to spend my night is watching two skilled politicians bare their teeth.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
My mind is already made up, and Nov. 6 can’t come soon enough.
(And in that vein, plan to vote: I’d wager it’ll be a close one. And if you think you don’t matter, you do.)
I was really worried about the lines at the polls this morning — and for good reason! When I pulled up to my polling place, folks were lined up out the door. Everything moved very fast, though. All in all, I was only there twenty minutes or so! Everyone waiting was nice, courteous and helpful; people were helping others find their IDs, chatting about the weather, commenting on how quickly things were moving along. No one seemed disgruntled, unhappy or upset — even when were waiting outside in the cold! A great overall experience. And I casted my vote alongside millions and millions of others (hopefully!). So many people walked away from the school with big smiles on their faces. Damn, democracy does feel good!
I’m sure my sister and I will be glued to the television tonight! After months (or years?) of listening to campaign talk, political advertisements, promises, scandals, affirmations and the occasional mud-slinging, hopefully we’ll have an answer in the next 24 hours. Can you believe it? And the Bush regime will finally be drawing to a close . . . unbelievable.
Actually, my stomach kind of hurts . . . such nervous anticipation!