A state called hope
10:16 a.m., November 4, 2008: Election day finally arrived, with its fears of people lined up around the block at polling places. But I dunno... I woke up feeling calm, went through my usual routine and now sit at my desk at work, far from the madding crowd. Like a record-breaking number of my fellow constituents, I already voted. All I have to do now, or tonight actually, is pop some popcorn, turn on the tube and let the final story unfold.
In my house, my husband was the mother hen, making sure that everyone of voting age, including my 84-year-old mother, had applied for and received a mail-in ballot -- and then he made certain said ballots were safely delivered. He subscribes to the Greg Palast/Robert Kennedy Jr. line of thinking and has been more than intent on making sure every vote counts, in the literal sense, well before the last minute. He filled out his ballot the day it arrived (I waited until the weekend, when I had more time to do the homework). Then he took both ballots down to the Election Commission immediately, noting the crowds of early voters and ballot returnees in the process.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that voting absentee still has its rituals. If there’s any reason to forego it, it would be for that meaningful experience of joining your neighbors and fellow citizens in the polling line. But still, there’s something dramatic about removing the strip from the top of the ballot pages, carefully filling in the arrowed lines, folding everything up and placing it in the all-important secrecy sleeve, signing your name and sealing the whole damn package up just so. It’s a thoughtful process and not at all lonely when you consider that so many others are living the same moments.
Last Wednesday night, I went over and helped my mom go over her ballot and cast her choices. Now, THAT’S ironic, helping a parent to vote. I truly owe whatever sense civic duty I possess to her. Even now that she’s in her waning years, some of her favorite television shows include the endless rolling out of news as it happens on C-SPAN and the more sound-bitten news on CNN. And my parents met while stumping for Henry Wallace at DU in the ´40s – no wonder I’m a raving lunatic liberal, married to another one. Even my ten-year-old gets into the act. She’s reported for weeks now – with a shrug of pity – exactly which three kids at school are "for" McCain. And today, although she usually refuses to wear anything other than jeans to school, she left the house skorted, wearing a "vote" over-the-knee sock on one leg and a mismatched "Obama" sock on the other.
For the last week, since the balloting’s finished at our house, my husband’s been especially cranky, slavishly listening to the AM 760 talkers from dawn to dusk and tuning into Rachel and Keith every evening. He told his students at CCD and Metro that he’d flunk them if they didn’t vote, and damned if he didn’t mean it. He’s threatened to jump off a bridge if his candidate loses AGAIN. Poor guy is a Type A Progressive. But me, I have this good feeling, this envisioning of something better coming our way. Truly, tomorrow won’t just be another day. Believe it. -- Susan Froyd