Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Voting,

I'd had a lovely conversation with at least six women of diverse backgrounds while waiting for the two hours it took to vote in this election.

As must happen in a line to fulfill one's civic obligation that last more than 15 minutes, we hit the normal notes everyone sings when they meet new people. storm...and eventually, politics.  

Up until now, we'd been a happy group.  Then a woman said, "You can tell who the GOP voters are, they're all grumpy.  They have no pep, no bubble in their personalities."

"I'm bubbly." I said.

"Well, the GOP is racist."
"I'm not racist." I answered.
"Well no, not all GOP voters are racists."
"But it hurts when you say that. You wouldn't like it if it were said about you. It can't not hurt."

She put her arm around me for a moment. "You're okay."  and I wanted to point out, I know lots of people. They're okay too.   Racism is a hatred born of the human heart not the political party.   What I said was, "We are all flawed, we are all broken.  Politics promises to somehow right the fallen condition of the world via a solution that causes no pain.  Anyone who believes they can through policy create a Utopia where every need is met and all is good, has forgotten the fundamental nature of the human heart.  We're sinful creatures.  We fail because we're fallen."  They all agreed.  I wasn't trying to sway votes. I was just reminding them that these sorts of sweeping statements, be they about Catholics, immigrants, handicapped, parties, economically disadvantaged, the rich, the whoever, do a disservice because they paint everyone who can be lumped into the category as an unworthy of being known other, and thus allows whoever posits the sweeping statement to ignore alternative understandings/questions about alternative outcomes that may come from policy and politics.  

Our conversations drifted back into happier places, whether the hype of the storm was real, why couldn't school be cancelled later?  How much someone could make running a concessions stand, particularly if they sold beer.  We laughed.

We're all Americans.  We're all voting.  We're all so committed to voting, we've been here for two hours away from home, away from doing chores to help get ready for the storm. This is a good.

Yet politics always promises the lure of perfection without the work/sweat/time/pain involved  As the noted great Pirate Roberts said, "Life is pain. Anyone who says different is selling something."  There are no easy answers. There are no easy quick fix solutions.  Tough problems require tough decisions and will be hard, both to pass and to enforce.

Here we were, standing in line for two hours and had grate conversations about all sorts of things before we went to our separate voting booths to cast our ballots.  We had far more in common than politics would pretend.  After two hours of talking heart and head to heart and head, we did not see monsters and we could disagree and while the world is not changed in a big way, maybe it was changed in a little.

As a nation, as a people, we've grown.  300 years ago, we were not yet born.  200 years ago, we were fighting the war of 1812, Less than 100 years ago, we were gaining the right to vote for women, followed by the civil rights acts a mere 44 years later. We are still an adolescent nation, testing what should be held true.   But I trust her people and I don't have to agree with everyone for that to remain firmly true.  

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