Today’s the big day. Our one inarguable day of absolute equality.
The day Michael Bloomberg’s bazillion dollars have precisely the same amount of influence as the lint in your pocket.
One person, one vote. Unrefined, unfiltered, undeniable Democracy.
This big day, in this crazy year, feels more energized than most.
Here in Tennessee, 2.1 million people - half of all registered voters - voted early. In Texas, early voting was nearly as large as the total turnout for a “normal” election year.
Seems everyone agrees this isn’t a “normal” election year.
Even my most disconnected friends, relatives and acquaintances appear to have gotten the message: this election matters.
Probably because the differences between the two major parties have never been so apparent.
Once almost negligible differences are now uncrossable chasms.
One party says our time hasn’t passed, that we can still come together and “get through it”- whatever it is.
The other says our history is one rotten mess of theft, racism and oppression. Their goal is to erase our history and replace it with…something.
Even before global pandemic, 2020 was the year one that party declared their intent. To change how things were done - permanently. To remake the USA in their image.
To essentially force-feed their change to the rest of us.
When they’ve not gotten their way they’ve demonstrated a willingness to encourage their supporters (those “mostly peaceful protesters”) to loot stores, burn police stations, and terrorize fellow citizens.
As a solution to ending those “mostly peaceful acts” they’ve proposed defunding the police.
That’s not enforcing the law, that’s supporting illegal activities (provided the bad-actors support their position).
Across the country retailers have boarded up windows, added security guards and pulled more valuable products off shelves “out of an overabundance of caution.” They don’t plan on being the next victims of “mostly peaceful protests.”
Having already seen the results of that kind of “governance” from Seattle and San Francisco to Detroit, Minneapolis and Nashville, I’d prefer another path.
But we are long past the time where good losers congratulated gracious winners, then worked - together - for the betterment of everyone.
My age has shaped my vision. I’ve seen plenty of nasty elections. Before I was old enough to vote, I worked at polling places to “convince” undecided voters.
In those days, two dollars and a half-pint of Kentucky whiskey “convinced” voters. The two bucks was paid on the way in and the half-pint on their way out.
We won a lot of elections that way.
Some we elected were personal acquaintances. Others were kin. Over the years, I came to realize honest democracy was earned, usually through sacrifice. It wasn’t meant to be bought or sold.
My public expression of that realization opened a rift in my family that never healed.
But those angry responses convinced me that elections mattered.
Nothing since has changed my mind.
As always has been the case, some candidates run for personal benefit. Others have no other trade, they’re professional politicians. Ultimately, our problem isn’t a bad system, it’s bad candidates.
The system was based on service for a short term, not becoming a permanently entitled member of a special class. Public office was intended to be a short-term inconvenience to serve the greater public good.
It’s gotten to the point that 2020’s not the year where candidates for both sides sound like slight variations on a single theme. There are fundamental differences in how they want to govern.
To me, one’s idea looks a lot more like “ruling” than “governing.”
The only way to really get their attention is voting. If you haven’t, it’s not too-late. Go do your job as a citizen.
Because if you don’t vote, your opinion doesn’t matter.
You’re just another squeaky hinge in a life filed with rusty gates.