Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hooray for Democracy!

I was a little apprehensive taking Mui-mui to the polls yesterday. She had been running a little fever and was even clingier than usual. And, of course, the only time I could go was right at her usual naptime. All of that, combined with the news footage of people across the country waiting in lines for hours and hours, made me a little bit worried. But, a citizen must soldier on; so I dilligently drove to the fire station, parked in the lot, got Mui-mui and her paraphanalia out, and was kindly chastisied by a burly fireman for parking in the firefighters-only lot. He finally told me to just go on in because the lot didn't have any signs saying it was for firemen only and because my baby was too cute to make me strap her back in her carseat just to drive 100 feet to the official voter parking (so true).

My fears were confirmed when I walked into the building and saw the hall packed with people in a long snaking line. I was trying to look nonchalant and competent as I furtively scanned the room for the end of the line, but I could tell I had failed when one of the fabulous tiny-grandma-poll-workers asked me if I needed help. Busted! Yep, I had no idea which district I lived in or where I was supposed to go. She looked up my address and pointed me to a table in the corner. Hooray! There were only 3 people in front of me at the district 103 table! Another tiny-grandma-poll-worker (I think there must be a maximum height requirement to be a poll worker in this district) insisted on holding Mui-mui while I went in to the little booth, despite my warnings about her state of mind. A few minutes of screaming later, and we were all done. I collected Mui-mui and we waved goodbye to all of the poor people in line for district 51 (as happy as I am to see that their whole neighborhood turned out to vote, I am so glad I don't live there - wherever there is).

It just felt so good to participate in the process. As much as I get frustrated by politics, it's how we get things done. I can't figure out a better way to pool our collective voices and make things happen. Of course, it doesn't hurt that my choice for president was the winner. I am truly excited about Obama and about a new direction. I see a real possibility for a change in the tone of the country - more hopeful, humble, compassionate, and united. I just love a person that really, really knows the constitution and can discuss it in a thoughtful, nuanced way. But, it wasn't just being on the winning side this time that made voting so much fun. Only one of the other candidates I voted for won, and that didn't diminish my glee (too much). I think it helped that I wasn't afraid of a McCain presidency (OK, I was a little bit afraid of a Palin presidency, but I would have been OK if McCain had won). Voting yesterday felt like being part of a real, engaged community. People at the polls were talking about the turnout, the candidates, the initiatives, their lives. Everyone I heard was respectful of other views and excited to be there, regardless of how they were about to vote. Plus, noone looked at my screaming baby with anything other than complete adoration - God Bless America!