“A king of Men am I”
So. Last night, as I was went to vote, I thought about the whole experience of, and what an amazing thing it is. Unlike the previous tear, when I voted on the recall at a local elementary school, this year I voted in someone’s garage. Far from fearing potential for fraud, I felt a real sense of community under the fluorescent lights and pop open ballot booths. The polling station was a block away from my house, and in the fading light I could see small groups of people walking towards the polling station. There was the smiling young woman with her dog, the couple with their baby who was allowed to go vote in the kitchen, and myriad others who joined my partner and I as we queued up to cast our ballots.
It seemed like such a beautiful moment, all these smiling people doing their civic duty before heading off to dinner, a movie, or whatever else they chose to do until, ostensibly, they could watch the rest of the results roll in.
As for me, I had already called my family in Ohio, who was actually afraid to answer the phone because of the plague of calls asking them “Have you voted yet?” Apparently, despite the fact that no one in the world likes to receive phone calls from strangers, that’s the best get-out-the-vote effort the political supporters could think of. I suppose it’s better than kidnapping pets, and sending ransom letters threatening their demise unless their owners vote, but still.
After casting my ballot, I happily plastered the little oval proclamation “I voted!” onto the lapel of my leather jacket, and headed into the city. As my friends and I walked to find a Thai restaurant that apparently no longer exists, I was surprise at the amount of supporters holding signs saying “Have you voted, yet? Vote for…” Seems to me that at 7:30, if you haven’t voted yet, you probably have no intention of doing so. Of course, people were still in line in Ohio and Florida at 12:30 at night, so maybe the sign-holders had a point.
When we failed to find the Thai place, because it didn’t exist, we went instead to a Japanese restaurant that has the best Wasabi I’ve ever had. This has nothing to do with voting, but their Wasabit was the kind that burns your sinuses and causes you to tighten your thighs in anticipation of the surge of pain and the adrenalin that follows.
I also loved the fact that, the moment we walked in the door, a couple in the middle of dinner looked up and asked “Has there been any news, yet?” I told them what I’d heard at that point; Kerry had won two states, but Bush had won about 5, and poll results from the East were still coming in. And, of course, that Obama had won. This moment of solidarity marked the high point of my evening, because it was right after we left dinner that the poll results started flooding in.
We watched the results from a living room filled to the brim with technology. A large television, replete with Tivo for replay, broadcast C-span while two laptops were busy reporting on the latest local results, as well as information about challenges, injunctions and court orders. There were also Trios and camera phones, ready to record the momentous occasion, and periodically someone would call to get reports from people in other cities, other states, try to find out the news that wasn’t being reported yet. And no matter what screen we looked at, it just continued to get progressively more and more red. At around 1 in the morning, when Ohio had been stuck on green (green? Why green? wouldn’t purple have made more sense?) for what seemed like hours, it became clear that no resolution would be made in the small hours.
We all drifted away towards our respective corners of the city. 11 states had passed ammendments to discourage or ban gay marriage, including Ohio, which, despite opposition from Republican senators and their Republican governor, passed an amendment that bans gay marriage as well as civil unions. Across the nation voters went further to the right, tossing out senate minority leader Tom Daschle and adding an additional 4 Republicans to the Senate and 3 to the house.
I went to sleep, uneasily, with a faint hope that things might look different in the morning. Instead, all I woke up with was a hangover.