2004 Election Cheer

Today was the big day. The endless polling, debates, rising passions, gotchas, issues, demographics, character battles, competing versions of the truth, water-cooler discussions, and plethora of other spectacular performances playing out in that tired old “circus” cliche have all come down to this… and I’m pretty sure this won’t be the end of it. While there’s been a great deal of focus on the negativity of this election season, I thought I’d note the multitude of positive things I experienced on this wonderful day:

1. People Care – I arrived at the polls early this morning and the line was out the door and crossing well out of the “No Campaigning Zone.”

“Goodness,” an older woman standing behind me in the line said, “I come here every election at this time and there’s never been anyone else here before!”

We are expecting record voter-turnout this election season, possibly 60%. For all of its stressfulness, the 2000 election taught people that their vote counts. Everyone who takes the time out of their day to come out and stand in line to be counted is showing their concern for our great republic, no matter how they cast their ballot.

That is sooooo cool. Way to go America!

2. Respectfulness Abounds – The Republican and Democrat campaigners standing outside the chalk-lined boundary of the “No Campaigning Zone” were models of respectful stoicism. They each wished me good morning, but did not otherwise assail me. My wife sought their assistance in understanding some issues on the ballot and they provided explanations without advising her on how to vote on them. We are a nation of citizens who are respectful toward one another’s boundaries.

We know how to disagree with class.

3. The Truth Emerges – Four years after the Florida contest, I finally got to learn this morning how so many dead people managed to vote in 2000 and why so many will vote today. It’s not some horrible political conspiracy to steal the election, but easily explained through statistics. If 425 people die each day in Florida, mostly the elderly who vote via mail-in ballots, then thousands of people who send in their ballots will die before the election. These votes are not legal in most states, but that does not mean they are the result of people intentionally trying to cheat the system.

Well, maybe if someone changes their mind about their vote and commits suicide to invalidate… Never mind. The point is:

The Truth Wins!

Urban Legend Dissolved!

I will never believe this talking point again!

Hooray for the Truth!!!

4. Always a Step Up – One of the most pleasant surprises of this election is seeing all the things that were done wrong in the last now being done right. Blacks who felt disenfranchised in Florida are swamping the polls, lawyers are everywhere scrutinizing the process, “No Campaigning Zones” are maintaining order, and these are all positive developments.

Here in Virginia, I was greeted with a very cool proposed amendment to our Constitution. After the 2000 consensus, the majority party used the power of redistricting to try and squeeze a representative from the other party out of office. Virginians were in bipartisan agreement that this was a pretty jerky thing to do, and the proposed amendment would allow a representative to hold their office until the next election.

I’m betting it will pass.

“I have to admit it’s getting better all the time.” – The Beatles

5. I AM LOVED!!! – November 2nd may be the moment of truth, but November 1st is the day we get inundated with phone calls. My mother got calls from the NRA, Republican, and Democrat campaigns. My answering machine had messages from similar well-wishers, all asking me to get out and vote. Being a registered voter means people care about me! They want me to be safe and healthy and make it to the polls to successfully cast my vote… after that I can drop dead.

Just kidding! After the election I will still be loved for adding another voice to the post-election disputes that will surely follow! Not to mention another four years of alternately criticizing and approving our politicians’ every move in any forum that will allow me a voice.

It’s all good. In fact, it’s all great. Have the band strike up a round of “Happy Days are Here Again!”

You know what? I’m not going to turn on the news tonight. I don’t want the selective and sensationalist presentation of events across America to dispel the warm fuzzies I got from participating in my local Democratic process.

Instead I think maybe I’ll kick back with a glass of warm milk and watch Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – great film highly recommended.