I'm a qualified optimist. I like to vote.
I like the symbolism of taking action in situations which seem otherwise to be paralyzed by rhetoric, posturing and non-productive competition.
I like the elderly poll-workers who take my name, give me my ballot, show me where to go and what to do.
I like the elderly citizens who lean over the minimal divider while I'm in my "booth" and ask me to read them the small print on the ballot. "Do I just pick one?" I look at the column and instructions at the top. I like the fact that I sort of have to move it back and forth myself a couple of times, squinting and imagining that it might be time for me to get reading glasses. Because I've always liked the look of pince-nez half-glasses. "Choose no more than 25," I answer. "Okay, thanks," the octogenarian says as she and I then both try to figure out what we're voting for and if there are in fact even 25 names to choose from in this local political committee list.
I like the feeling I get when I put my ballot in the box. Like I've really done something, not just talked about it. (But I don't like thinking about whether or not I really believe that.)
Every time I've voted at my local precinct, in the community room of a multi-storied senior housing project in my neighborhood, I've thought about how easy it would be to return later in the day and vote again. (When I checked out this morning, the gentleman almost checked off my next-door neighbor's name after I gave him my address. "Valerie?" he verified. "No," I corrected, "Catherine," and leaned over to point to where I was on the list, taking in as many of my neighbors' official party status as I could in a quick glance. I'm a "U," unenrolled, so I can vote in either primary. I like that my state lets me do that, since I'm at my core opposed to a (two) party-system. I like guessing or being surprised when I find out which party, if any, an acquaintance affiliates with. And I like that I can respect and even love them whether they're an "R," "D," or "U." I like the fact that I know my being a "U" doesn't mean I'm wishy-washy or can't make decisions, but that it's an actual value-based stand in itself. But I don't like thinking about it too much, lest it become a stumbling block to me.)
A high school Sunday School student of mine this week told me "George Washington warned against it." I didn't have a Sunday School lesson prepared for this week because I thought my teaching partner had it covered, but he didn't show up. So we talked about how our faith and Scriptural/kingdom values should inform our voting. I like going to a church where the answers to that question are not (assumed to be) deceptively simple.
There are a lot of things to be skeptical, frustrated, or otherwise bothered about in our political process. But I like voting.
I can't wait to vote again on the way home tonight.
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