Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day, 2007

Today is election day here in Virginia, and the polls will open in about an hour and a quarter. I'll vote on my way to work, as I usually do, and if experience is any indicator, because the voting is for state and local offices and issues, the turnout is likely to be light...especially since it's cold and raining this morning.

I have my choices already made, so it shouldn't take long to do my civic duty; I'll probably spend longer waiting in line than I will actually voting. But however long it takes I'll do it, because this is one of the most important things we are called upon to do as citizens. In today's America, everyone shouts loudly about their rights and privileges, but few think about their responsibilities. Voting, jury duty, paying taxes, and upholding the law are things that can be inconvenient, but without which the society will collapse. It's disheartening sometimes to think of the long lines of Iraqis who braved attacks by insurgents and suicide bombers to cast their ballots, while Americans can be put off by rain and cold - particularly if the election isn't a major national one.

Of course, election seasons can be a trial. It's a pain to come home to a half-dozen or more messages on the answering machine and discover that they're all recorded political ads. And I won't miss running the gauntlet of glad-handing politicos and their shills pressing me with glossy campaign literature as I fight my way through the Metro station each morning and evening. Negative campaigns won't be missed either: don't tell me how bad the other guy is, tell me why I should vote for YOU.

One-issue candidates are a pain in the neck, too. This year is the year to beat the illegal immigration drum as a way to get votes. As you know, I have absolutely no sympathy for illegal immigrants and those who support their right to break the law with impunity and obtain the same rights and privileges as those who are here legally. But don't just demonize the illegals...what ELSE do you have to offer? In many cases, there's just an empty suit once you get rid of the bombast of the single issue.

In addition to the list of state and local offices to be filled, we're also voting on two bond issues: one for $365,200,000 to provide funds for building and maintaining public schools, and another for $110,000,000 for transportation improvements. I'm really conflicted here...as you know if you've been reading this blog for very long, I strongly believe in education as a lifelong process and one of the most important gifts we can give our children. We grossly underpay and underappreciate our teachers and underfund our schools that build the citizens who will make the key decisions in our future. But somehow, over $300 million for capital improvements and a bus repair facility doesn't seem to me to be the best investment we could make. I'm not sure how I'll vote on this one. As for the transportation bond, I suppose I'll vote for it because our transportation infrastructure is in such desperate straits...but I'll also be holding my nose as I do, because I think the Virginia-DC-Maryland area as a whole lacks a coherent and integrated plan to maximize the impact of everyone's bonds and other investments. We're just putting band-aids on the problem without such a plan.

There are the occasional fun things about election season, too. One of the cleverest ads I've seen in a long time was a roadside sign sprinkled in among the tens of thousands of "vote for me" signs that simply said "Vote Joe Schmentrick for Plumbing!", with his business phone.


I'm girding my mental loins to go forth and do my duty by pushing the desired buttons on our electronic voting machines. By tomorrow morning, I'll know how it all came out. I'm ready for any results: I have a nearly full bottle of gin and plenty of limes and tonic water to help me either celebrate or mourn.

Time to get moving.

Get out and vote...it's your duty. If your idea of voting is limited to phoning, e-mailing, and texting for your favorite on "Dancing with the Stars," don't be letting me hear you complain about how the country is going.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

I'll be voting after work tonight. I've only ever missed once and that was because I had a trip that came up quickly and I couldn't get an absentee ballot in time.

The election? The stolen one in 2000.

Amanda said...

I'm a believer in voting. People don't have a right to complain and make a fuss if they don't at least try to put the people that 'could' help them in office.

Sue said...

I am usually surprised and dismayed to hear of the amount of mothers and other women who have not voted when I bump into them. Most often I discover this after they have issued endless drivel on the latest political scum serving our county or state or country and I have simply asked, "Oh? Who did you vote for?" Silence is thick and penetrating. May the suffragettes mourn in their arrogance.

I have no sympathy for people who claim they did not have 'time' to vote, because at least a month ahead of time the absentee ballots are sent in the mail (mine was, at least). They are available if you are determined to ask for one.

No pity for the lazy citizen.

On a note of jury duty, recently my mother and I ran into her pastor at a local restaurant. He proclaimed he was on lunch break from jury duty... with a huge smile on his face. Pleased to serve!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

They don't accept English votes, do they?

Bilbo said...

Jean-Luc - We'll accept English votes if you'll accept Yankee ones!