Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day, 2012

By now, more than enough has been said about last night's election, and so I'll limit myself to one thought:

The last time I voted at a polling station was the winter of 2007, when I cast my first vote for then-Senator Barack Obama in the Missouri Democratic Primary. In the interim, my votes have all been absentee, including my first presidential vote in 2008, an electoral experience that is less than inspiring, one marked by procrastination and notarization and post offices. So to stand in line at my local polling place yesterday (the Baptist Church that my friend Chuck attends); to see such a varied cross-section of citizens—nuns and Muslims, the young and the old, men and women—taking time to do the same; to meet the serene election official who signed me in and wished me a "blessed day"; the thrilling sense of participating in something happening across the nation, a distant but palpable vibration brought on by imagining thousands of rooms like the one I was standing in across the nation; to see my dad's familiar signature in the registration book, a record of his hours-old presence; to feel that old, haggard word, democracy, gain a bit of flesh and blood, if only for a day: it was a powerful moment, a reminder that no matter how battered our fragile system becomes (and it's pretty battered, as Kevin Baker's angry, problematic, yet uncomfortably-striking-upon-a-hard-truth Harper's essay recently reminded me), for the time being, our belief in the efficacy of our vote—our willingness to participate, however imperfectly, in our government—is worth feeling heartened by, no matter how irrational a hope it may offer.


Katherine Misgen said...

I agree. Thank you for your well articulated thoughts Jim.

Daniel Everson said...

"to participate, however imperfectly"
Exactly how I feel. My participation was imperfect. The system itself is imperfect. But just standing in line to vote in an elementary school gym did make my efforts seem worthwhile. Thanks for your words.

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