Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Yesterday around 8 am, I drove past my polling place, and the line stretched through the parking lot to the sidewalk, even though they had opened two new polling places in my neighborhood. At 9:30, I drove back, and the line was almost as long--and I realized that I didn't have my knitting with me. So I made a quick loop and joined the line, knitting in hand. It was a beautiful day, and no one seemed to mind waiting very much. I know I didn't. For two hours, I slowly shuffled forward and knit half of a Calorimetry. I chatted with my neighbors and thought about democracy, and patriotism, and civic duty. I was happy to see so many people line up and wait to cast a vote to elect either a person of color to the Presidency, or a woman to the Vice-Presidency. (Later, someone would tell me that they had heard that 70% of registered voters had turned up to vote nationally. Amazing.) To be honest, I was moved. I was moved by the number of elderly and handicapped voters who stood in line, and moved by the number of able-bodied voters who ushered them to the front. I was moved by the blind man whose son helped him cast his vote and by the little girl in the big red-white-and-blue hat who sat so patiently waiting for her mother to cast her vote. And I was moved by the scores of busy people who took the time to stand in that line. And later, at the election party I went to, I was moved by the fervor of my peers--a generation largely regarded as selfish and apathetic. As CNN called states for McCain or Obama, some of us colored maps--an exercise in geography as much as it was an exercise in civics. The electoral college was discussed at length amid conversations about the mundane, songs were sung, snacks were eaten, and games were played--with occasional map-coloring breaks. And when the final results were announced, tears were shed, friends and family were called, and speeches were anxiously awaited. And again, I was moved, both by McCain's graciousness and call to set aside partisan rivalries for the good of the country, and by Obama's optimism and joy together with his fierce practicality. (I do wish that McCain's crowd hadn't booed his concession, but there's really no controlling a crowd like that--not everyone can be a gracious loser.) And even though some of the results that came out of yesterday's elections are disappointing to me, I'm still left with a depth of joyful, hopeful emotion that surprises me. It's the idealist in me coming out, I think, bolstered by the rhetoric of both presidential candidates. And it leaves me thinking that maybe the next four years will be different, on a lot of fronts, in a lot of good ways.

Thus endeth my touchy-feely stuff.


Barbara said...

Amen, daughter. I was rather disappointed that we didn't have to stand in a line. I had my knitting all ready and we zipped right in and back out again. But the baton will pass in January and we'll see what this young man can do. I wish him luck and godspeed.

My verification word is "zonvers." Sounds like an exclamation of triumph!

Katie said...

I won't say I'm not disappointed with the national result. but I am quite ecstatic with the voter turnout. I know many people who it was their first time voting. I guess we'll see what will happen. I hope that I'm wrong and will be glad if I am. (not that I wanted McCain either...) nonetheless I will support the President :)

David said...

I was at work so I didn't get to watch. But we do get CNN on our satellite radio in the brewhouse. I got to listen to the coverage and the speeches. I was moved by both candidates' speeches.

My voting experience was a bit less sublime, though. Abby and I were in a very short line behind a girl wearing a Nader 08 jersey. No one bothered to tell her that you can't campaign in a polling place. We couldn't stop laughing because we figured that they just weren't worried that she'd sway any voters.

This election improves my record to 2 for 3 and fills me with hope for the next four years.