all in favor

6.2.98

Californians had a big fat ballot today, and the main candidates for the major offices opened up some big fat wallets. As I write this the votes are still being counted (the polls closed less than an hour ago), but it looks like money wasn't necessarily the determining factor in who won the primary. That's nice to see.

I always get a little lift on election day. My enthusiasm for democracy bubbles up like it must have bubbled up for voters in 1946 or 1918 or 1862 or 1808 or 1796. My politics take a backseat to this enthusiasm for process -- it's a sort of cross between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, but without all the smoke and yams.

So Viv, Amy, and I walked into the church auditorium and ran into Ilsa and Hans who live across the street from us. Hans was still in a booth, ka-punch... ka-punch, turning the rascals out, no doubt. We chatted with Ilsa about their 10 days in Mexico and speaking Spanish and getting sick down there every time. And then I realized that another across-the-street neighbor, Lizzie, was voting in the booth closest to me. Ka-punch... ka-punch. We all finished chatting and Viv and I each took a turn in the booths, flipping through page after page of pre-marked choices in our big fat California pamphlets. On the way out we ran into Iris hurrying in just before the polls closed. Lateness and hurrying have always been part of Iris' s charm.

This is what sustains the buoyancy. I mean, you walk into a room and there are your pals, punching away at ballots, doing theirdamnedest to pick the people who might make this big giant circus run fairly (or fun rairly?). In a world of time-crunches, high prices, whining kids, and dying dogs, here's a bunch of people who take the time at least to try.

On the surface the sentiment is quaint, even na´ve, I suppose, and I'm in dark dark danger of being labeled a flag-waver, but at the root of this feeling lies a somber realization. When I'm standing in a room full of voting booths I'm indebted to a long history of heroic acts, principled defiance, and spilled blood. Lots of spilled blood. It belonged to men and women who, without even knowing us personally, believed enough in this American Idea to fight to make it a safe place for folks like me. And for folks not like me, as well. They gave up careers for it. They gave up families for it.

They died for it.

Died.

In their sacrifice dwells their trust that we'll continue the work, the responsibility for its survival rests squarely in our laps. Eternal vigilance, dontcha know.

That vigilance is tough, and I get more than a little concerned for the world my daughter is going to inherit when I look at the peanut-brained jerks that populate schools and malls and Burger Kings everywhere.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: So, Tom, didja finish that draft of the declaration yet?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Y'know, George, I was gonna. But X-Files was on.

I have visions of jackboots marching into the empty streets of downtown Denver, and the only sound louder than the stomping is the theme music from Seinfeld echoing across the land.

So yes, I suppose it's reasonable to assume that election day has some meaning for me.

The thing is though, those jackboots won't ever actually hit the streets. They'll probably be Nike cross-trainers. With Citibank logos on them. In Benz/Chryslers. As seen on ABC. As approved by Disney. As reported in USA Today. And they're coming to give us a free limited-time offer, as long as we don't act now.

It's not that Corporate Monsters will conspire (breathe together), it's that we won't.

* * * * * * *

Coming soon -- Mom And Apple Pie: Icons worth fighting for, or Diabolical Blend of Dysfunction and High-Caloric Suicide? You decide.

 

Today's Music:

"Tomorrow Belongs To Me" -- CABARET - ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK RECORDING

 

Wisdom of the Day:

"Political ability is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn't happen."

-- Winston Churchill