Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

Does your polling place give out "I Voted" stickers? They are hard to find in NYC. I showed up! I waited in line! I cast my votes, even in categories where the "choice" was merely symbolic (choose four of the four names listed)! Is a sticker too much to ask?!

The line at my polling place was not so long, although I was hearing alarming reports on the news as I was getting ready, and I gave myself plenty of time just in case. (I hear it was worse at 6 a.m. -- so much for beating the crowds!) Anyway, can I just say how pleased I am that Election Day is finally here, and in a matter of hours it will be over (please God)? Phew. Let's not do this again for, oh, four years at least.

One of the many irritating factors about this campaign season: the lame election-themed displays in retail store windows. It seems like every single clothier and chain eatery has to come up with some ridiculous way of linking their product to the fact that there's a presidential campaign going on, without actually commenting on the content of that campaign. So the Gap's windows are covered in signs that say "Vote Peace" and "Vote Love" and other, even more inane slogans. ("Vote Boot-Cut Jeans!") I've walked past a Home Depot that had some weird orange, white and blue display, and it was hard to tell whether the orange was a deliberate reference to the store's logo or a red that had been in the sun too long. The most bewildering display I saw was the one at J. Press on Fifth Ave., where the usual upscale novelty ties and cuff links are interspersed with old-timey buttons for candidates who may or may not have existed. It all felt very time-machiney, and I couldn't tell whether it was self-aware or incredibly un-self-aware. But the point is, I'm sick of stores trying to cash in on election fever. Partly because it trivializes something that really shouldn't be trivialized (further), and partly because I spend enough time thinking about the freaking election and I don't need the Gap to remind me about it. Can I please not focus on politics while I browse this clearance rack of favorite tees. Thank you.

Here is a nontrivial reason why you should vote, long lines be damned: In Texas, a 109-year-old woman whose father was born into slavery cast her vote this year for a black presidential candidate.
Amanda Jones's father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.

Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn't recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said.
Ah, yes, our nation's proud history of granting black people the theoretical right to vote and then systematically disenfranchising them to make sure they don't. You know who thinks that's hilarious? Pat Buchanan! I know because he had a good hearty laugh about it. On Hardball. In 2008.

So vote. Even if you're not a minority or a woman. Even if you're not voting for That One. Even if the lines are long, and they're not giving out stickers, and there's no question who will win your state. Vote. And then be glad it's over.

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