Yesterday morning, I got up well before dawn, hopped on my bicycle, and rode downtown to work as an election official for the election. Even though I am just one small cog in a very, very large electoral machine, I really feel like I help make democracy possible when I am working at the polls.
For over seven hours yesterday, I helped college students and others new to the area register to vote for the election. Many of the people I registered had never voted before for a variety of reasons. Others hadn’t voted for years and years, but they felt that this year their vote really meant something.
After all the talk about ‘another Florida’ and lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits, it was very uplifting to see people lining up at 6:45 AM to vote (our polls in Wisconsin did not open until 7:00 AM). We had lines of over 100 people waiting to vote, at times during the day. Generally, everyone was understanding and in a good mood.
After I got home, I made a point of avoiding all news coverage of the election. Even as the night wore on, I made it a point of not turning on the TV and not listening to the radio. When Sarah wanted to check the election returns right before bed, I asked her to do so with the sound off and then I went to another room so I wouldn’t have to see the inevitable red and blue map.
I was really relishing the idea of so many people turning out to vote. I really, really wanted Bush to lose the election and I hoped that the high turnout meant that people had seen through his lies and misdirection and were casting him out of office on a tidal wave of ‘one very pissed-off person, one vote.’ I was envisioning a more moderate Supreme Court as Kerry got to appoint a replacement for Rehnquist. I envisioned different party hacks at the head of the various government agencies.
Before I went to bed, I turned on my alarm clock, but forgot to change the time it was set to go off. This morning, my alarm went off at 5:00. I hit the snooze unthinkingly. It went off again. Same actions, same result. Finally, it went off again and it registered in my brain what the folks on NPR were saying: “John Kerry refuses to concede Ohio.” That slipped through my media filters and caused my brain to fully awake, there in the dark of the bedroom.
So, there I was. Fully awake and trying to determine any way that Kerry could win the election by losing Ohio. It just did not seem possible. My mind kept churning and churning, trying vainly to distort that one fact in such a way as to make it fit the known realities of the election and a possible Kerry victory. It goes without saying that it was with a heavy feeling of dread that I pulled the newspapers from the box at the curb. George Bush’s detestable smirk looked out at me through the translucent blue plastic newspaper bag.
Well, here’s to the next four long, dark, stillborn years. Hopefully, everyone who voted for George W. Bush, who bought into the shiny, plastic packaging, who exercised their brand loyalty, will get plenty of rewards on their frequent Republican voter cards. Lord knows, they’re not likely to get anything else one would actually want from the Bush administration.