E Pluribus Unum
After 18 months of sound and fury, Election Day is here. I've made my feelings on voting (in short: do it), clear in ways both vicious and kind before, and I don't see a need to repeat them at too much length.
This is a country founded by people who wrote eloquent, high-minded denunciations of the very concept of political parties, while forming political parties as fast as they could go.
That kind of set the tone, with noble (and not-so-noble) ideas rubbing shoulders with the political knife-fighting required to accomplish anything when a species of evolved apes fight over power.
Susan B. Anthony was arrested in 1872 after voting for that paragon of virtue Ulysses S. Grant. She did this at a time when the women's rights movement was locked in internecine warfare over whether it should engage in mainstream politics or not, a fight every activist movement to this day feels the need to repeat. Poll taxes — keeping blacks, Native Americans and poor whites disenfranchised — remained legal until the mid-1960s, after people shed blood to get the simple right to fill in boxes on a piece of paper that someone would actually listen to.
Like William Faulkner said, the past isn't even past. In 2012, we still see new versions of the same old fears and hopes.
For me, election day is something akin to feeling a high and a hangover at the same time. This is Black Friday for journalists, so there's a relentless and addictive work pace alongside a lot of camaraderie. As a citizen, it brings me face to face with the best and worst behavior my country can muster. For a second, I think it takes us out of our bubbles with a glimpse at the sheer staggering size and diversity of the electorate. Then the aftermath reinforces those barriers, often in the worst possible ways; I have seen people do and say some of the stupidest things of their lives just after an election.
That's my off-the-cuff rant. This is an open discussion of voting, elections, civic duties, and this campaign in particular.
Keep it smart and keep it civil.