Tuesday, November 02, 2010
stamping my ballot
It is election day in America.
For Oregon, it has been election day for several weeks. We tend to be a bit eccentric -- both in our politics and in our political institutions.
We have not had polling places for several years now. Instead of greeting our election board neighbors and the raptorian poll watchers every two years or so at the local school, we have reduced the civic exercise of voting to mail-in ballots. So, my fellow citizens have been voting and mailing for a couple of weeks.
I understand that most other states have eased up their absentee ballot procedures -- to the point that some voting districts receive a majority of their ballots before election day rolls around.
The best part of the early-voting process is that it throws off the candidates and their campaigns. Political advertisements once built to a climax on the weekend before election day.
No longer. We are now barraged for weeks on end. With candidates hoping they can manipulate us into a moment of weakness -- just as we are looking at our ballots.
Without television, I miss most of the nonsense. But I have seen a sample this year.
I was on the exercise bike at the club the other evening. I usually read my Kindle while I try to pedal away a bit of fat. For some reason, I glanced down at the built-in television on the handlebars.
The news was on. But during a break -- that I swear lasted five minutes -- the political advertisement started running. They were all attack ads. And they were often positioned with each opponent's ads being juxtaposed -- making each of them sound like five-year olds trading "did"/"did not".
Attack ads have classically been designed to suppress voter turnout -- or to enrage the true believers. And they appear to be working this year. In most states, the Democrats are dis-spirited. And the Republicans and Independents are invigorated.
I saw that recently. I was talking to a Democrat friend of mine this weekend. He was tidying up his place, and I noticed that one piece of mail he was throwing away was his ballot. When I asked him about it, he simply said he had no interest in voting this year. He was disappointed with all politicians.
The sentiment is one I can appreciate. I long ago stopped thinking that politicians could do much good. If America proposers, it will be despite its political leaders.
But, I cared enough to vote this year. Not because I am invigorated or enraged. It is simply something my generation does. Like bringing flowers on the first date.
And I want to followup later this week on that topic. Generational politics.
But for today, we will simply wait to see the mood of the American public. I suspect the outcome is going to be challenging.