Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Today, wanting to avoid the crowds, the long lines, the stress and headaches, I was one of those wise people (or fools) who ventured out into the pre-dawn darkness to cast my vote for President.
One of the wonderful things about this country is that we, as a people, are given a voice. It’s probably the only chance laypeople and non-politicos ever truly get to exert a sense of power in the way things are governed. Ultimately, the big cheese, the big baller, the grand poo-bah, the main fat cat who’ll be running things, calling the shorts, making the tough and necessary choices, this all becomes OUR decision.
Today, I walked with just a little more power in my stride as I headed off to get MY vote on.
As I entered the building (a local youth center in my ville), I encountered an elderly man behind a desk in the lobby. An old Italian gentleman in bifocals, I took him to be a retiree hired to meet and greet, and be social. He had a friendly face, and I gathered this position made him feel useful. He reached out his hand and said, “Welcome. Good to see you come out this morning.”
As I shook his hand, I thought that would be it, and I’d keep it moving. But, no. He then went on a mini tangent about the candidates. His words clearly favored Obama to the point of dogging McCain.
I like McCain. I think he’s a decent man. A funny man, too. John McCain is a man who has served his country well. I don’t see him as my enemy, just as I don’t see Barack Obama as my savior.
I guess this old gentleman assumed, that since I was a Black man, he was already preaching to the choir. Suddenly, I was elected to be his AMEN corner. To be quite honest, this felt a little condescending. However, I’d always been taught to respect my elders, so I just let him speak.
It was then 6:25 AM. More and more people were steadily arriving. Each of them had the casual luxury of stepping past his desk and going directly to the voting room. I, meanwhile, was a prisoner to this man’s political diatribe/monologue. He’s ranting about how unfair the campaign has been to Obama. How McCain’s people should be “ashamed” of themselves for suggesting socialism was at the core of Barack’s philosophy; ashamed for questioning the man’s religious faith, his true agenda, etc. etc. Me? I just nodded along. He then went into the subject of Obama’s father leaving him and not representing what a father should be. And he waxed on into Obama’s grandmom’s passing, and how emotional Barack was while speaking about her.
Now I’m thinking: Okay. This old man’s for real. He’s a fan of Barack’s. He wants to BARACK the vote, yo!
But people were coming and going, and my early-bird intentions are lost, as I’m standing there, nodding my head at him. At one point, I wondered: WHO CAN STOP HIM? Would someone PLEASE stop him!
Finally, I looked at my watch and said, “Great speaking with you, sir. But I’ve gotta get in there and vote, before I head off to work.”
He ends his monologue with, “All right, then. Go vote! But I pray he (Barack) wins.” He then pulls out a crucifix from behind the collar of his pale blue shirt. He raises it slightly to the heavens, and kisses it.
Yup. This old cat’s for real.
Once I make it inside the voting room, there is a smallish crowd of maybe 20 people in line. They are young and they are old. They are Black, White, Brown and Yellow. They are the faces of this country.
I show my ID to this elderly lady sitting behind a table, as another checks to see if I’m registered. I admit this part was a tad stressful. I’d heard some horror stories about some people don’t being able to vote in this election for various reasons. Sometimes it reeks to me of the pre-civil rights era in the south. But luckily, my name is listed, so I’m cool. Good thing, too, cause I really didn’t wanna have to SET IT OFF up in that mofo! Especially so damn early in the day!
As I waited my turn in line to cast my ballot, I was reminded once again of my power. There was power in my little vote. I was thinking how this day was a historic event, no matter which candidate wins the election. I began to feel this sense of PRIDE to be a small part of it, and have lived long enough to see it. Perhaps it’s the writer, the chronicler of events, this poet in me that actually brought on a twinge of emotion.
I didn’t take this lightly. I hope no one does.
As I pulled the lever to close the curtains, I remembered my childhood, and my grandmother telling me how she wasn’t able to vote until she was in her early forties. The laws didn’t ALLOW her to vote. Such were the troubling and racist times in her native Virginia.
How dare I or anyone else take this right for granted!
Well, I voted. Pulled four separate levers, and then it was done.
I walked out of the place at 6:47AM. The sun was out by then, and it was shining, almost brightly.
I walked away with just a trace of power in my stride.
Yo! No matter which candidate you favor, just VOTE people! Go get your power surge on!