Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Memories

It’s Election Day, and I find myself thinking back to other election days in years past. I remember my very first one, a presidential election that happened just weeks after my 18th birthday. I remember being floored that there were other questions on the ballot—I thought we were voting literally for just the president. The process turned out to be a lot more work than I expected. (My guy didn’t win that time. They say the tallest candidate usually wins. I can’t remember if that’s what happened, but I will concede that the winner did have better eyebrows.)

I particularly remember the presidential election in 1992. I was traveling in China, and attempted to vote by having an absentee ballot sent to me at a Poste Restante in Shanghai. It never got there. When the election happened, I was on a ferryboat sputtering its way extremely slowly up the Yangtze River and didn’t hear the results for days. So that wasn’t a banner year for me, either.

Mostly I remember one election when I was home from college and announced to my parents, as college students will, that I wasn’t voting because none of the candidates was good enough for me. My father—knowing full well that I would cancel out his vote on every elective office, and choose ignorantly on the initiatives—still took the time to explain to me that, “If you don’t choose, you’re letting someone else make the decision for you.” I was very moved by this insight, and have made it a point to educate myself and vote (or at least try) in every election since.

This morning I set out to vote right after the morning rush. It’s a pretty long walk to my polling place. (It’s not far at all as the crow flies, but in reality, you almost can’t get there from here.) I was listening to my ipod on shuffle, and one of the randomly selected songs was a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a Changin’.” It was very moving to listen to this song on my way to vote. Lyrics like “As the present now will later be past/The order is rapidly fadin'” gave me hope that maybe things are changing, that maybe we won’t always be living in wartime, that maybe one day all men really will be created (and married) equal, and that someday people won’t feel they have to fight “repulsive and dark” parts of themselves.

At the very least, the pendulum might be swinging in such a way that we get a Trader Joe’s where the Albertson’s on Lakeshore Ave. used to be. Baby steps. And even if I don’t get my way in this election, it’s important to remember, as the song says, “The loser now will be later to win.”

But not if no one votes to make it happen. So please, get out and vote today!

No comments: