Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Completing the arrow

Mr. Maharry, my twelfth-grade American Political Process teacher, would be so proud of me today. He may have looked like an insect and voted Libertarian, but something he said must have stuck: I considered the issues, did my research, made an informed decision, and marked my choices down in black ball-point pen. I voted.

See, though, I love voting. I love elections. I get that they're absurdly long, that they tend to bring out the worst in people, that they're riddled with injustices large and small even after centuries of practice. But I don't think I'll ever get tired of going to a place in my community, standing in line with the neighbors, and making my voice heard. It's the same feeling I get from going to the public library--I am community-minded! Hear me roar!--only about ten billion times stronger. I am nation-minded! Listen to what I say!

That said, my voting record is terrible. In nine years of voting, I don't recall voting for a single winning candidate in a major election. It all comes down to the wave of idealism that washes over me when I find myself at the voting booth: I'm there, and I'm excited, and once I start thinking about my duty as a citizen of the United States, it's all over. I've voted with my conscience, and I wouldn't have it any other way, unless my conscience saw fit to endorse a winning candidate every now and again. Like...today, maybe. I wouldn't mind. I'm just always surprised to find that, as far as I can tell, I can't have it both ways: a conscientious victory. And yet: every time.

I did see something great this morning, though. The intersection at the Grand Lake Theater (natch) was packed with campaign volunteers of various left-leaning stripes, mostly divided by corners: Clinton folks in one place, Obama folks in another (Oakland is a Republican-free zone, apparently, which is a post for another day). But as I looked, I saw a few people who'd snuck from one camp to another: a few Clinton signs waving among the sea of Obama, a couple of Obama supporters sprinkled into the Clinton crowd. They were all getting along, smiling and chatting as they incited much honking and hollering and waving, possibly disagreeing on the details, but having a good time nonetheless. It was a cheerful way to start Super Tuesday.

So, happy voting day, Mr. Maharry. As someone I know used to say, "I hope your candidate wins!"


HeHa said...

I feel the same way :) I always find myself feeling optimistic and sentimental during election time. There's so much hope for positive change and togetherness.
My high school had a Mr. Robert Maharry. Small world!

HeHa said...

There's no way there is more than one Mr. Maharry teaching gov. We must have gone to the same school. VERY small world! Awesome :)

Liz said...

Wow, that's weird. Benicia High?

I think it's funny that elections make us feel all fuzzy inside, since there's so much craziness and carnage that goes on. But I love it. Such potential!

HeHa said...

That's right! I graduated in 2001

Heather said...

I came across your comments on Google. Robert Maharry was my dad, and a great teacher. You're wrong about the Libertarian - he was hard-core Democrat, although he would sometimes order info from other parties for use in class. I graduated from BHS in 1985. Dad died unexpectedly of a rare cancer in 2007. We put his obituary in the Benicia paper and the Vallejo Times-Herald.