Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day! Yes! Or, Why I Geek Out Over Seemingly Insignificant Elections

Okay, I admit it. I can't wait for tomorrow. I know it's not a national election. I know it's not even a midterm. I can't help it - I lovelovelove Election Day!

What's better than walking to the polling place on a crisp, fall evening with your kids in tow, signing your name, and voting for the candidate of your choice? What's better than declaring your party affiliation proudly, receiving that Democratic ballot, and letting Tweenie and Little Man punch the ballot? What's better than getting the great little sticker that proudly states, in patriotic red, white and blue, "I have voted - have you?" And what's better than talking to your Little Politicos on the walk home about why you voted for Measure A, or why it's important to make sure Dems get elected to the City Council and the School Board? You know, most other countries make Election Day a national holiday, and some actually fine those who are eligible to vote and don't exercise that right. I don't think the right is taken as much for granted in other places as it is here, but I am hopeful that the surge of new voters we welcomed to the polls last November will feel the responsibility to act locally as well as globally. I hope for a better turnout than these poor state and local elections usually get, as they affect our lives tremendously.

I mean, think about it...what's more American than casting your vote for the offices that most directly affect your life, your family's lives? They say that running for national office, you don't have to know about the micro, just the macro, whereas at the local level, you really need to know your stuff. You have to know why saving Two Trees is important, you need to know how people feel about the natural gas plant being built off our coast, and how we can keep Wal-Mart from going megastore on our town's sorry little economy. You need to know budgets well enough to be able to explain to me how to actually get my folks street paved when it hasn't happened since I was in high school. Ya gotta know your stuff. There's no smoke and mirrors here. You have to actually campaign: shaking hands, kissing babies and canvassing door-to-door. People need to know you and trust you. You really do have to know your community and its constituents. It's a tough gig, with small budgets and few advisers - not like the national scene. And the best part? Any one of us can do it. You can run for office. That's the beauty of our democracy.

So, I will do my best to get home in time to pick up the kids, vote, then watch the returns on MSNBC, the station that I love because they seem almost as excited about it all as I am! I'll work with the Little Politicos on homework while I point out what the local measures are doing so far, and why the New York race, on the other side of the continent, is so significant. The Hubby will bring home pizza and maybe we'll stay up a little past bedtime (Momma will, anyhow, while The Hubby downloads songs and the kids rest their sweet little heads) and I'll see what happens in Washington and Maine with the gay marriage initiatives, and whether the local library will get the necessary funding to remain open. And when I finally get to bed myself, I will be grateful to live in a country that prides itself on every citizen having a voice, whether they choose to exercise that right or not. I'll revel in the fact that we are a self-governing people, from the local Dogcatcher to The Office of The President of The United States. And I will sleep well knowing that, once again, a peaceful transfer of power, albeit on some of the tiniest levels of government, has once again transpired.

No matter what time you vote, or what your party affiliation, or your choice for school board, don't forget to get out there and make your voice heard. Call a friend to remind them it's time to vote, and offer a ride to the polls to the elderly folks across the street. Wear your civic duty with the pride that comes with knowing that once again, We The People will decide the course of action for our cities, counties and states. Oh, and don't forget your sticker. You earned it - wear it with pride. Happy Election Day, my fellow Politicos!