Archive for November, 2006

A Bird And A Democracy

November 7, 2006

Well, the political porn is rampant. I am sitting here watching the pundits foaming at the mouth over the election results. And all I can think about is something that happened today, something that had nothing to do with democracy. I experienced something probably trivial, and yet somehow profound.

But let us start with the events of today. My dear wife was an election judge. She is committed to the process, committed to working for change, committed to making sure the process works like it is supposed to, and committed to getting her party in power. I support her because, well, I love her. But I am also supportive because I see how important what she does is to her and how strongly she believes in doing what she believes is right not just for the country, but also for the human race.

I sometimes wish I had her commitment to some process, to a group or cause. Maybe then I could be celebrating with her tonight, all giddy over who wins a seat in a race somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I voted for some good people, and I hope those people win their races if for no other reason then because it feels good to be on a winning team.

I even participated today. I served as an election judge bitch, also called a clerk. I helped other people exercise their right to vote. I was both eerily cheerful and polite. And I must say I found myself committed to ensuring every person there got the chance to vote. I made many a phone call to find out what precinct folks needed to go vote in.

And I also experienced the horrible pain of having to tell someone the system had failed them, that they couldn’t vote today. That sucked, seeing the look of, hell, what do I know about what they felt. I am pretty sure it wasn’t good, having some guy they didn’t know telling them they couldn’t vote because of some glitch in the system. I can relate in someway, because I got my absentee ballet when I was stationed in South Korea two weeks after the election.

And yet I am more concerned about a bird. Or more to the point, a little bird of prey. You know, hooked beak, big talons. I’m not sure if it was a hawk or a falcon, because from what I can gather from the internet they can look a lot alike. But I think you get the point.

How does this bird fit into the day? Well, when I arrived at the polling place there was this bird there, sitting on the curb with an obviously fucked up wing. Right there at the edge of this parking lot being filled and emptied by people voting. The bird, as we shall call it from this point, was just sitting there, looking as pathetically pissed off as a bird can. There was a couple of guys standing nearby calling, I discovered later, the humane society. I went into the polling place to tell Anna I was there and then proceeded outside to, well, stand guard over the bird.

I don’t know why I suddenly felt some need to guard this particular bird on this particular day. But there was something about seeing this majestic creature stranded on that curb in a church parking lot in the suburbs, something that hurt deep inside.

After a little while the guys that were watching the bird with me left. So I found myself alone with the bird, trying to act as a buffer to the folks coming and going. I stayed a good distance back trying not to spook it, but I think I failed at this because at one point the bird dashed for a very busy road along side the parking lot. A feeling of dread filled me watching this wounded creature heading towards danger. The bird stopped three or four feet from traffic.

Talk about imagery. This wounded wild animal sitting on the mowed curb grass right next to cars whizzing by, people going about their busy lives. The wild untamed spirit and the mundane. Finally, an animal services person showed up, and we spent some time corralling the bird before the it was apprehended. The last time I saw the bird it was in a stainless steel cage.

I spent the rest of the day writing down names and telling people how to go through th voting process. What an experience in itself. My back hurts, I have a slight head ache, and I truly believe anna is crazy for wanting to work elections on purpose. But I am drawn back to the bird.

I guess I am seeing some strange parallel between two unrelated events. Trying to save this stupid bird, which for all I know had it coming, and the endless stream of people filing in to cast their votes, who I sometimes feel also have it coming.

Its not so much the people or the bird, but how I felt interacting with both. Or more to the point, how responsible I felt to them. What the fuck do I care if a bird dies or if some stranger doesn’t get to vote. And yet I did feel responsible, like it was important to care, like I was supposed to care. And beyond that I had to act in some way.

Hell, I wish there was something more profound to this story. Maybe if the bird had spoke to me, shared some wisdom or secret, or if I would have felt some deep patriotic stirring during the voting, this would be one hell of a good story. But neither happened.

No. I think what happened is that despite my best efforts, I realized I actually care. Who knew? A damn bird and a bunch of idiots, that’s what it took to remind me that I give a shit. I want to give them both a fighting chance. What a weird feeling.

I hope they both make it. What ever happens tonight, I wish them both the best. I played my part for a second in their lives, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad I did. Will the bird live? Will the people’s will prevail? Your guess is as good as mine. But what I can tell you is this: it feels good to care. This world is what we make it, and if we don’t give a shit it will turn into a living hell.

Go Vote

November 7, 2006

Get off your ass and vote today. Don’t come up with excuses, and don’t dare say your vote doesn’t matter. Because it does. It matters more then who will win the Super Bowl or what you will have for lunch today. Nothing will ever change unless we the people exercise our right to decide the direction of this country.

I am not the biggest political party loyalist around. I have often railed against the two party system, calling for a multi party system or better yet no parties at all. But none of that is relevant today. What matters right now is getting some balance back into our government. What matters is stopping the Republican machine.

The Democrats are more then just the party of “anybody but Bush.” There is some really good folks running this year, people just like you and me who have taken it upon themselves to try and change things for the better. The least the rest of us can do is get out there and vote for them.

If you still feel that your vote doesn’t matter, or that all politicians are the same so why bother voting then I have nothing more to say to you. Go back to being complacent. The rest of us have a country to save.

Today’s elections are important for several reasons. America is what it is because of the middle class. We are the American Dream. And the Republicans have waged war on us. We are the majority in America, and we need to start acting like one. We need to stand up to the Big Corporations, the Religious Right and the Neo-Cons and demand that this government serve all the people, not just the fringes. We have to demand that this nation be a protector of freedom, not an aggressor seeking an empire. We need to make a statement not just to ourselves but to the world community that this Republican President and his cronies do not represent the heart of America, that the American people are not hell bent on world domination (or its destruction).

The Democrats are the people’s party. Or at least they are if we the people are active in the party, shaping its ideals and values. We have a chance to form the Democrats into a truer representation of the diverse society in which we live. But that can only happen if we the people do our part and vote.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and vote.