Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A View of a Three Hour Tour

I got up at 6:10 this morning so I could get to the polls early. I figured I'd leave the house around 7:00, go in to vote about 7:15, be done by 7:30 (no later than 8:00 if those stories about long waits were true), and get to work no later than 9:00.

You know what they say about the best laid plans. I left the house about 7:00, got to the polling place about five minutes later. The fun began when I turned onto the street where the school that houses my voting precinct was and I saw nothing but a sea of parked cars.

It took about ten minutes to find a parking place. Then I went inside and I saw nothing but people.

This picture doesn't do the line justice. The line wrapped the entire length of the elementary school where I vote. Up one set of stairs, down the hall, around a corner, back down the hall and the stairs to the gym/lunchroom. Some folks brought a book. Others kept scanning their endorsement lists and voter info. Some weren't sure where they needed to go, but there was a steady stream of line captains and voting officials to make sure everyone was in the right line and was registered to vote.
There were three precincts assigned to the school. In two of the precincts, a voter could get in and out relatively quickly - a half hour to an hour tops. In the third precinct - my precinct - it was a bit longer.
After an hour, I called home to let the family know they were going to have quite the experience and to suggest they walk to the polls instead of driving. I called my job to let my boss know that I may be a bit late. I wished I'd grabbed a cup of coffee before I walked out the door. That's when I noticed something.
Nobody was complaining. Nobody was in a bad mood. Nobody was leaving.
The line was full of people, young and old, working and jobless, long time voter and first time at the polls. Everyone was saying good morning to each other. People were getting seats for elderly voters who needed to rest their legs.
By now, two hours had gone by.
Some said they wished they'd brought in some water, or candy, or a book they'd left in their cars. No problem. People were more than willing to hold places in line, share a pack of gum, let someone use a cell phone to call work to let the boss know they'd be late. People told jokes, gave each other high fives when they admitted this was the first time they'd ever voted, and were kind to each other.
One of the poll workers came through and thanked everyone for voting, giving a running pep talk to people in line and as they left the voting booth. Another went through and took all the elderly and disabled people to the front of the line so they could vote without the wait. They gave her a round of applause. One of the election workers said she'd never seen so many people in line to vote in all her years of working at the polls. "Damn this makes me feel good," she said as she watched the line grow.
There was only one hint of possible conflict at about hour number three. One man accused another of trying to cut in line and a small shouting match broke out between the two of them. Then people began to speak up.
"Hey! Watch the language! There are kids in here!"
"Come on, now! That's not what today's all about! We're here to vote!"
"Calm down, you two! We need you to get along and do the right thing!"
And just like that, a possible situation dissipated because, as one person put it:
"Man, we're here to vote, not act a fool! Today is about history! You better come together and recognize!"
Indeed. No matter what you believe, no matter who you back, today was - and is - all about coming together and recognizing. It's all about history.
It took me three hours to cast my vote, and it was the best three hours I've ever spent in line.
More later. And if you haven't voted yet, what are you waiting for? You better recognize, and get your butt to the polls.


Monday, November 03, 2008

A View Of "Are We Done Yet?"

All hail the Queen - arguably the funniest comic strip being published today. Click the picture for more.

This election has exhausted me. I've reached my fill of negative campaign ads, pre-packaged sound bites, debates designed to deliver pre-packaged sound bites instead of true interactive dialogue, stories about potential voter fraud, and endless poll numbers that seem to exist only to promote the next poll.
It seems to me that the current electoral process is designed to do one thing effectively, and that's promote bickering and gridlock. This cartoon lays it out perfectly:

And this strip is a close runner-up for that funniest strip title. Click on the picture for more.

And don't even get me started on the campaign ads. I thought we had some over the top ads on the air here in Michigan, but this intentionally tacky one from Kansas is simply out of control:

Click on this link for a list of the 10 worst ads of the 2008 political season.

It's nonsense like that ad that makes me complete cynic when it comes to government, elected officials and the whole electoral process. I vote, but I always feel like I'm picking between the lesser of two evils rather than a candidate I truly believe in. Tomorrow is no exception. I've already told you who gets my vote for president, but it's not without some trepidation. I'm still miffed with Obama for ignoring Michigan during the primary. (If you're all about change, then why not help revamp the primary process? I'm just saying....) And I was totally turned off by McCain turning his back on the state - and his fellow constituents here in the state - last month. (Even more interesting was that he did it without telling his VP pick, Sarah Palin. How will they work together in the Oval Office if she isn't even kept up to date on campaign strategy decisions?) It makes me wonder what, if any, assistance either one will give my state in the new administration - especially after it's become clear that there won't be any government aid coming for GM and Chrysler any time soon.

Despite my cynicism, I'm still going to go. No amount of mud flung, no endless number of facts distorted, no seemingly random poll numbers, or restrictions on what can be worn at my polling place (and probably yours, so don't wear your Obama hookup until after you vote) can keep me away from the voting booth. Our process is flawed here in the US of A, but it's ours and we have to take part. I'm a cynic, but I'm not cynical enough to not vote. Too many people gave too much for this acerbic African American woman to have the right to go into a polling place and have my voice heard - bitching before I vote and moaning about the choices made after I and the rest of my fellow citizens cast our ballots each election cycle.

To give myself a bit of a boost, I'm going to watch this video as I'm getting ready tomorrow morning. These kids from the Ron Clark Academy are amazing. Check out this clip, then check out the school's website. Their energy and enthusiasm about voting and taking part in the electoral process can energize even the most disenchanted undecided voter.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Cynic or true believer, it's your responsibility to take part in the process. And there's nothing lower that a person who doesn't vote, but bitches about the outcome of the election. Not even the person who came up with that Slattery ad.

More later, after I come home from the polls. For the record, if anyone asks why I voted, I'm telling them Joe made me do it.

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