04 November 2008

Whoa. Democracy Actually In Action

Wish I'd taken a photo, but I didn't want the pollwatchers to come down on me. I dropped the kid off at elementary school this morning and went straight to the polls, which had been open for all of 40 minutes.

We vote at a high school, and the usual setup is a tiny little arts room with all of five little marking booths, four little old ladies, and a scanning machine. I've had to wait for three or four people ahead of me perhaps three times in the 12 years I've lived here, and I vote in every single election.

Not a trace of that cozy familiar scene this morning! An entire gymnasium, one entire wall lined with booths, a veritable herd of poll workers of all ages, and...a...a LINE?

There had to have been 120 people waiting -- maybe more like 150. I never stood in one place longer than 30 seconds, though, that line was moving. And ebullient, too, the whole atmosphere was one of folks barely restraining themselves from high-fiving the poll workers, their fellow voters, even the sullen teenagers stalking past on their way to class.

This could be huge. I blush to admit that I puddled up the other night talking about it with my kids. See, I remember growing up among overt racists, and the civil rights movement. I remember George Wallace being treated as a serious presidential contender instead of as a race-baiting nutball on the lunatic fringe. And I remember Dr. King's murder, and the resulting riots.

Remember, I said. This is history, I told them, and you were there. Always remember this day -- you watched your mom vote for the first black man ever to head a major-party ticket in this country.

We are better than the racists. Better than the haters. Better than the bombers, the torturers, the plunderers. We are America, and today we threw down the gauntlet to Washington: Are you as good as the people you would lead?


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