Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Doing My Bit For a Well-Constructed Republic

I have cast my ballot.

I always cast my ballot. Voting is one of the things that citizens of a well-constructed republic do, at least if they want it to remain a well-constructed republic and not degenerate into the kind of tyranny that so many of the people pulling the strings in this country seem to want it to become. The Constitution starts out, “We the people,” and the Gettysburg Address frames its call in terms of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and those are not mere rhetorical flourishes but stringent political demands – government of the people requires said people to get off their collective hind end and vote.

There is a reason why the potential tyrants fear the voters of a well-constructed republic – they’re unpredictable. They can be led like sheep for only so long and then they turn on those in power and vote them out. They have a distinct tendency to gum up the most elegant plans for maintaining illegitimate power that way, at least in the long run.

In the short run?  Well, people are people.

You will note carefully, by the way, which end of the American political spectrum is trying to limit the number of voters these days through false claims of “voter fraud” and draconian laws rushed into place in its name, laws which only serve to disenfranchise potential problems to tyranny, and which end of the American political spectrum is trying to prevent this. This is not a coincidence.

For such a dramatic thing, it is surprising how prosaic voting can be in these United States.

And that’s as it should be.

I live about as far from my polling place as I can get and still be in the ward. Like most of the polling places in Our Little Town it’s in an elementary school – a different one than the one the girls attend. Tabitha had play practice after school so I picked up Lauren and took her over with me, because I like to make a point of bringing the girls to vote. Voting is something they should see as normal.

We pulled into the parking lot and walked up to the big old brick building just as the last rush of students there were leaving. The actual polls are in the gym, a well-windowed room on the south side of the school.

You go up to one set of tables on the left of the room and try to figure out which ward you’re in – I can never remember this and have just learned to go to the left-hand table, which usually works – and they look you up and present you with a white piece of paper about two inches square, on which is printed a number. You take it over to a different set of tables in the middle of the room and present the people there with the paper and they hand you a ballot, which in Wisconsin is a piece of cardstock about a foot long and nine inches across.

This you take to one of the blue plastic desks with the spindly legs and the privacy shields set up over by the windows. There is a black marker on each desk, and by each candidate’s name on the ballot is the tail and head of an arrow. To vote you have to use the marker to connect the two halves of the arrow for the candidate of your choice.

No chads. No digital innards to hack. Simplicity itself.

I let Lauren put the ballot into the scanner when I finished. She always enjoys that.

These spring elections are usually quiet affairs – the ballot this time contained a School Board race, a City Council race, a county judge running unopposed, and a State Supreme Court race, and none of these usually spark any interest.  I'm usually voter number 23 or some such by the time I get there, halfway through the day.

But say one thing for Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) and his cronies, minions and lackeys, say that they have made people much more interested in protecting the democratic process from threats. I was voter number 166 this time around.

Say also that they have made people more aware of the stakes even in these races – particularly the State Supreme Court race, which pits someone whom the Lead Minion explicitly told a rally would uphold the radical agenda put forth by Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) against someone else whom the same Lead Minion portrayed as an opponent of said agenda.


Nice to have it put so clearly and openly. “Vote for my sock puppet!” has never really struck me as an appealing campaign slogan for a judge, even in the best of times, and these are not the best of times to begin with.

So I cast my ballot.

What did you do today to further the ends of a well-constructed republic?


Janiece said...

What did you do today to further the ends of a well-constructed republic?

Um, not much, actually. I vote by mail (so I can take my liberal self and act as an election judge on the actual election day), and we don't have any elections going on, anyway.

So I worked. And walked the dog. And exercised. And went to the bank. I guess I kind of suck today in terms of being a contributing member of society...

David said...

Well, most places don't have elections today I guess. So I'll let you pass. This time!


I've never tried being an election judge, though. Perhaps I should.

Janiece said...

David, most places pay at least a small stipend, and for me, it's a chance to get more involved in the democratic process. When my kids were younger, it had the added benefit of demonstrating my desire to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak - performing that duty requires that I give up a vacation day, and my day job pays far more than my County offers for a 15 hour day.

Most judges tend to be retirees, as well, with no technology skills. Once my County started offering electronic voting machines, they needed folks who weren't intimidated by it and could help voters. I always enjoy it when they need me, and since my County also deploys judges to the same polling place where they live, it was fun to help my neighbors, as well.

tom said...

WEll, I prayed (in a secular humanist manner) for a huge turnout in WI....
I'm a former precinct Capt (6 yrs) for the Dems where I live, always vote always work the local elections...

here's hoping for better political times

David said...

Hat tip to both of you for making the republic work.

That means a lot to me.

Unknown said...

I've missed only one election in my 27 years of voting. That year, the car broke down and I couldn't get to my home town, fifty miles away.