I hope you’re happy.
Tuesday, after my last meeting, before my dinner plans and study, I was planning to go get laid. It was going to be at least an hour of sex and snuggling, perhaps the only such hour I was going to be able to wedge into a very busy week.
I was not planning to vote. After all, I am a libertarian/compassionate fascist/democrat/blueish/independenty kind of gal living in an a red state. In fact, we are so red we go off the spectrum of visible light–Oklahoma is infrared. I wasn’t going to vote because I had looked at the projections on Five Thirty Eight, and I trust their math. Their statistical projections haven’t failed me yet, and it doesn’t seem likely that they would this time around. I checked–my candidate for governor had a 0.1% chance of winning the election, according to the 100,000 simulations they had run. The poor dear was running against your run-of-the-mill crazy Republican, and she didn’t have a prayer.
I was not planning to vote. It’s been three major elections since I could vote, and only once has anything that I wanted happened. (Thank you, President Obama.) It should be noted, of course, that my vote for Obama counted for nothing in the scheme of things–all of the districts in Oklahoma went for McCain, which means that all of our electoral votes went for McCain. The infrared of my surroundings drowns my tiny light for reason.
I was not planning to vote because I hate legitimizing a system so badly broken.I was not planning to vote because I am keenly aware of how much it REALLY doesn’t matter, on several levels. It doesn’t matter because I am outvoted by ignorance, by fear, by bigotry and idiocy. But it also doesn’t matter because their votes don’t matter either: this country is run by money, and anyone who tells you different is lying or selling something. (In the case of politicians, usually a combination of the two). I wasn’t planning on voting because, beyond pestering my elected officials, which has no impact whatsoever, my only interest in the government is how quickly I can put together an armed revolution to overthrow it and put something reasonable and functional in its place.
But I am an optimist, and apparently deep in my heart I believe the propaganda (which is hilarious because I don’t believe in democracy). Or maybe I just didn’t want Jessie to be mad at me. So after my last meeting, I drove forty-five minutes through the rush-hour traffic to the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s leafier now, and the houses are better kept (something that probably surprises my childhood neighbors, who made snarky comments about the neighborhood going to hell as the “minorities” moved in). The sun was setting and the shadows were long across the green lawns. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting, though arguably more multi-cultural.
I pulled into the parking lot of the Baptist church where I cast my first ballot in 2004, another election where my vote didn’t matter. (And we saw how well that went for us and the world. Thanks, Bush/Cheney. Jackasses.) My tires crunched on the white gravel of the lot. I turned off the reggaton that I had been listening to on Pandora, sighed, and went in to vote.
A small child, sturdy and browned from sunshine, hopped and skipped and jumped ahead of me. I wondered if she would have been so excited if she was having to vote, if she was having to make decisions that would impact the future in profound ways, if she was having to weigh all of her options and come to a carefully thought-out conclusion only to have that reasoned voice drowned by the screaming obscenities of the idiot masses. Probably not, is my guess.
I signed my name in the big book of everyone who was registered to vote in the neighborhood, my signature going right beneath my father’s, who had already been in to vote.
I took my pen and my ballot, and walked to the cardboard booth to mark my decisions. I indicated my utterly pointless, carefully considered choices, and then fed my ballot into the crazy machine that takes the finished ballots.
The sweet lady manning the machine gave me a sticker. She briefly inspired me to work in a polling station.
Then, I drove the forty-five minutes back to my new home, to go about my life. I imagine I was supposed to be content that my voice was heard. All that was left was to await the results.
I didn’t get laid. I didn’t get snuggles. I was late starting dinner.
And my vote, as usual, did not change a thing.
Oklahoma still elected an adulterer who ran on a family values platform, ie, a hypocrite. (That, incidentally, is the least of my problems with her.) We still prohibited mandated health care coverage, in a law that specifically states that it won’t do anything because the federal health care reform will overrule it on account of the federal supremacy clause. We still prohibited judges from using international law, especially Sharia law, to decide cases. (Because I am sure that this happens all the time here.) I am still living in a state whose Constitution is a record of fear and bigotry.
So I hope you’re happy, democracy. I hope you appreciate my contribution. Because I’m sure that an aspirational fascist nutjob is precisely the kind of person you want contributing to your governance (much the way I’m sure that I want the crazy ignorant bigots contributing to mine). For you, I burned through a quarter of a tank of gas (probably contributing to the death of polar bears and entire ecoystems of phytoplankton and half an acre of rain forest and sixty thousand people in Peru who depend on glaciars for water). For you, democracy, I sacrificed orgasms and cuddles.
But I did it. I cast my vote. I cast my vote because I want to believe in democracy. I cast my vote because a hundred years ago I would have been denied the opportunity because of my gender. I cast my vote because hundreds of people all over the globe who have far fewer freedoms than I do not get a similar symbolic gesture of steering their own governance. I cast my vote for hope, for symbolism, for civic duty.
I still didn’t get laid.
I hope you’re happy, Democracy.
See you around,