There are a few things that still feel democratic in our “democracy.”
The library still feels democratic. There we all shuffle around, looking for and at the same books. Checking them out for free. Hushing exuberant preschoolers. Click-clacking on stiff computer keyboards. Struggling to make eye contact with the soul scanning the bar codes. Traipsing out to the car with a big stack of cellophaned opportunity while wee ones scamper up on to the landscaping.
Traffic is still democratic. We all basically follow the rules. We all stop at lights, stay in the lines, drive the designated direction, show proper respect for the sick or dead.
You feel democracy at state parks. You feel it at free city museums. You feel it in the park.
It’s not the same at the store. That’s not democracy. That’s being a cog in the commodification wheel. Gathering, unloading, watching, weighing, paying, loading, walking, buckling, unloading. Leaving, driving, stopping, driving, unloading, filing away, throwing away, consuming. Returning the damaged bag of chicken fritters. Ho-hum. A girl’s gotta eat. And smell good. And coif the ‘do. And soothe itchy dog paws.
But voting is still democratic. And it felt especially democratic (little d, mind you) today. I’ve never seen the lines so long at 9am. Never in the 8 years I’ve been voting at this polling place. And granted, I feel sorry for all those A-K people whose line was 3-4 times as long as my little L-K line.
But we all stood. Disoriented. Cranky. Distracted. Determined. Neighbors waving, laughing, complaining, helping, bossing, explaining. Poll-watchers in funny jumpsuits watched. Election workers in ugly aprons guided.
It was exhilarating! I pressed that touch screen so carefully. Wrote in one name for Soil and Water Dude. Avoided voting for the two guys I know a little too well. And I voted for a democrat for the first time in my life.
I got my sticker and left. Got my free coffee at Starbucks. After we plant some tulip bulbs, we will have an all-American dinner tonight (chicken-n-dumplin’s) as we watch the returns.
This is a historic election. Like Roosevelt was for my grandparents. And Kennedy was for my parents. And even Reagan was for my teenage self. Just like Geraldine Ferraro’s 1984 defeat was the death of second-wave feminism, I think Sarah Palin’s defeat today is the death of the Christian Right. It’s time for it to go.
It feels like a clean slate. A new start. And I’m eager to see what God will do next. I know that my brothers and sisters on the Right think it’s punishment. I’m not convinced.
Ask me again in four years.