Friday, October 07, 2016

i'm gonna sit right down and cast myself a ballot

When two of my favorite things in life -- politics and receiving mail -- combine together in one event, you would think I would be a happy Mexpatriate.

I am a legal resident of Nevada. Earlier in the summer, I filled out a paper absentee ballot request form, signed it, put it in an envelope affixed with a colorful Mexican stamp, and mailed it to the Washoe County clerk.

Yes, it was old school (if anyone still says that). Nevada likes to have some idea that the person to whom they are mailing a ballot is actually a state citizen and not some college kid in Chicago just waiting to stuff a ballot box.

Even though I have supported strengthened ballot identification since 1968, the process was a bit cumbersome to me. But it is exactly the same one I used to receive an overseas absentee ballot from Oregon back in the 1970s.

A couple of bloggers have written about casting their ballots from darkest parts of Mexico. I was a bit envious. I had not yet received my ballot. So, I sent an email to the clerk asking about my ballot. She responded the next day: the ballots had been mailed earlier in the week.

Yesterday a letter from the Washoe County Registrar of Voters (a title that bids the appearance of Gilbert and Sullivan allusions) showed up in my postal box. It reminded me of those rather tense days of law school applications to Yale and Harvard. A thick letter was an acceptance. A thin letter was a rejection. This was a thin letter.

I thought my Cinderella nightmare had landed on stage with the grace of a sack of cobblestones. Sure, my mother's family crossed the border from Canada to Minnesota in the 1920s, and no one has ever provided any documentation that the move was legal. (Maybe they were refugees escaping the terrors of the English Empire. After all, we are Scots.)

But the letter was not a "now-we've-got-you,-Jock" accusation. Instead, it was a very personal and professional letter from the sainted Sara Warr of Washoe County informing me my application had been accepted and had been mailed. She then helpfully informed me five referenda would be on the ballot, and I could read all about them on the county's website.

That was nice of her. But I did wonder why the letter? After all, the arrival of my ballot would have contained the same information.

Or perhaps this was another security test. Between the lines, Sara may have been saying: "Dear Voter -- if that is your real name." Had the letter been returned to the county, the posse would be out looking for my nefarious hide. After all, it is Nevada.

I should be excited about the arrival of my ballot. But, I am not -- entirely. There is a very interesting Senate race where I have a favored candidate to replace Harry Reid. But that is about it.

As far as the presidential election goes, I am still undecided. During the past week, I have changed my plans three times. I will not bore you with my reasoning. I would say I have bought into the notion that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

But that is exactly what has bothered me about this election. That word. Evil.

Both candidates have equally dipped into the insult well to call the other evil. One is just better than the other at using the art form. The other, though, has gone so far as to call the supporters of the opponent evil. The voters.

Bismarck was absolutely correct when he called politics "the art of the possible." Hubert Humphrey loved quoting him. And he knew how to put the aphorism to good use.

There is very little of that in American politics these days. Anyone who has ever been involved in labor-management negotiations can immediately see what is wrong with our current political impasse. (By the way, we libertarians do not consider political impasses to be a bad thing. Anything that stays the hand of government has virtues that may not be immediately apparent.)

Both sides are wedded to their positions. And none of them take time to look where their interests intersect.

They simply are not about to do that -- because it is the voters who are far more divided than the political leaders. There are people who claim the country is as divided as it has been since the civil war.

I am not one of them. After all, I am having trouble parking my "art of the possible" bus with one of the presidential candidates. The division cannot be that clear.

According to Ms. Warr, my ballot should soon be here. If it isn't, I am not going to need to worry about which candidate I am going to vote against.

I wonder if that makes me "irredeemable?"

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