Voting, Polls and a Box of Tissue.
I’ll admit it – I am a total election geek. I get misty eyed even thinking about voting. And I get downright tearful after I pull the lever or punch the button or scan my eyeballs (well, New Jersey hasn’t gotten sophisticated eyeball scanners yet, but I’m prepared). Because I have never served in Iraq or Afghanistan or risked my life in any way for our great democracy, for me there is nothing more patriotic than campaigning and voting. My motto has always been, “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” Or as they say in Chicago, “vote early and vote often.”
I was one of those weird kids in high school who was as excited to register to vote in government class as I was to get my driver’s license. I just couldn’t wait to be a part of the process. So this morning when my children pushed the buttons in the booth during the most historic election of our time, again I cried. This is a BIG day….the world is watching….and we were there. Truth be told, when my daughter and son pushed the buttons for Hillary during the primary, I was even more choked up. It just all felt so HUGE.
The passion we collectively feel this November 4 on whatever side of the aisle we’re on is palpable. Hearing stories and seeing images of people in Florida and Colorado during the last few weeks standing in lines for hours to cast their ballots is powerful stuff.
Last Friday, I read my favorite book of the moment, "Grace for President," to my daughter’s kindergarten class. As I was reading, one boy in the back of the room started thumping his fist in the air chanting, “McCain, McCain!” to which a group of other 5-year-olds responded by chanting, “Obama, Obama!” It was incredible to watch – the energy and unbridled emotion – and this was kindergarten.
Even though our country still holds on to a nutty and archaic electoral voting system and holds elections on a Tuesday rather than on a weekend, our patriotism and love of democracy is never more pronounced than on Election Day….that is unless the election is stolen and decided in the Supreme Court and we’re counting chads in a backroom with National Guards on watch. But the Florida/Gore debacle and the paranoia it created aside, Election Day is about waving the flag, engaging in the process and feeling lucky and proud to be an American.
Even if you didn’t vote Blue, you couldn’t help but feel swept up in the optimism and enthusiasm that this historic election inspired and also think wow, those Obama and Biden girls are gorgeous!
In New York City around 1 a.m. in Union Square throngs of young people spontaneously burst out singing “The Star Spangled Banner” as some climbed street lamps and waved American flags. It was like a scene out of “Les Miserables” when the people’s voices were heard. Before the inevitable reality and cynicism seeps in and we go back to the mundane and the annoying struggles of everyday life, we should thank our lucky stars that we have the privilege of living in America and hug our children and tell them that yes, anything is possible.