Note: This is a continuation from the previous post, found here. It’s not necessary that you read such, but it does flesh things out a bit.
Before we did the delicate dance of the damned with the denizens of the departed doctor’s den, we did something else. We voted for the next president of the United States. Now, this might sound like a very simple and straightforward thing to do, and it would be, if the world was not in the place that it currently is.
2020 has been a hard kick in the ass, and that’s putting it mildly. Nothing has been straightforward or simple. We started off the year, at least in America, with the impeachment of the sitting president. This was all spectacle with no lasting impact, as the Democrats needed at least a handful of votes from Republican Senators to make this happen, and said Republican senators have lap-danced on Trump’s ass so gleefully that they might as well have “Property of Trump International” stamped on their foreheads. They voted based on dark allegiance and not patriotism or Constitutional duty to serve all Americans, not just one. (We miss you, John McCain.)
Then we had that string of shameful incidents where it became very clear that racism was not only alive and thriving in America, it was being encouraged by “should have been impeached” Trump. He was practically handing out white sheets at the White House, spooning with white supremacist groups and white-power senior citizens riding golf carts in Florida. Trump was emboldened by his non-impeachment, convinced more than ever that he was above the law. (His sociopathic ego has never allowed him to doubt that delusion, but nothing confirms “do whatever you want, master” like a cavalcade of lap-dancing Republican Senators.)
Oh, and let’s not forget that tiny little incident wherein some idiot ate an animal that they shouldn’t have, or something along those lines, and before you can say “what fresh hell is this”, a nasty virus is spreading and killing and locking down and upending the life of every single human on the planet. I won’t even begin to list the stunning examples of how the Trump Administration mishandled the pandemic from Day One, other than to say that Trump, and the lap-dancing Republican governors who re-opened their states too early, are, at the very least, guilty of negligent manslaughter.
Too much? Just think how many American lives could have been saved if Trump and the dancing governors, from that infamous Day One until now and beyond (because we’re not done, by far) had simply made mask-wearing a patriotic and compassionate thing to do instead of turning non-mask-wearing into a political statement in support of the “should have been banished” president. So many lives, lost. It’s just… unconscionable. I will not go quietly into the night.
Okay, one last thing, so I can finally get back to where this post once belonged, which is the previously-simple and straightforward act of voting for president. As it became clear over this miserable year that Trump was sliding in the polls and he was not going to get re-elected, he and his minions launched a campaign to discredit the entire election process in this country, setting up the possibility that he would refuse to leave office, should he lose. His talking points were ridiculous.
Massive voting fraud! (Though there has never been any measurable instance of such in this country, ever.) Billions of illegal aliens turning in ballots! (They can’t even vote, nimrod. And I’m pretty sure they just want a warm bed and a decent meal; political anarchy is not in their day planner.) We have to protect the polling stations from those evil Democrats who dare to vote! (A dog whistle to fringe groups like the “Proud Boys”, finally giving them a chance to wave about and possibly use those AK-47s that they shouldn’t have in the first place.)
And now we’re back to the voting.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, early voting began in Texas. The in-person, physical kind, not the mail-in ballot kind. (Don’t trust the postal service! Democrats work there!) Partner and I knew better than to attempt such an effort on said first day. As mentioned, it’s Texas, where so many Republicans have done everything they can to thwart the election process. (Have you heard about gerrymandering? We’ll talk later.) We wanted to see how things were playing out.
The evening news on Tuesday reported massive turnout and long lines. (Six-hour wait in Houston!) This intel was somewhat sad, because part of the reason for the long lines is that Republicans had shut down some polling stations and ballot drop-boxes “due to security concerns”. But isn’t it interesting that these shutdowns had happened in areas with large minority populations? Hmm. Do you suppose there was a plan behind this? Surely not. Still, the long lines meant that some people were willing to do what it took to get their voices heard. Good on that.
The evening news on Wednesday was essentially a repeat report. After the newscast, Partner and I agreed that we might as well try to vote the next day, since the lines and waiting times might not lessen. We carefully considered all preparatory points. Should we go early, or would there be a mad rush of people doing the same thing? Should we go later, hoping the crowds had thinned? Should we pack a lunch? Maybe a change of underwear?
Thursday dawned and, since I’m retired and Partner had the day off, we didn’t immediately leap out of bed and race to the polls. (Besides, leaping out of bed at our age is a perilous decision. Things can snap that will never be right again.) Eventually (we may have relaxed with a book or watched something on the TV, as focus is also an issue at our age) we gathered our things, piled in the car and motored our way into civic duty.
Our favorite “early voting” location, which is basically our “regular” voting location, since we almost always vote early, is a recreation center plunked in the middle of a modest park. We like using this one because the neighborhood is peaceful, it’s a bit off the beaten path, and the lines are generally very short. However, based on the media drama that has been playing out lately concerning the upcoming election, we fully expected to turn the corner and see a massive queue of people spilling out of the building, meandering about the green grass of the park and ending at the duck pond two blocks away that could probably use a good algae wash. (Budget cuts, you know.) We also expected to see Confederate-flag-emblazoned pickup trucks thundering about the landscaping, with howling rednecks standing in the beds of said pickups and waving misspelled signs proclaiming that they were taking back the America that only existed in their incest-addled minds.
We didn’t see any of this.
In fact, we didn’t see a line at all. Hmm. Wait, was this polling location even open? (Covid wreaks havoc, have I mentioned that?) Then we noticed the hundreds of campaign placards shoved into the ground running alongst the street. (Side note to campaign workers who think it’s a swell idea to place the same placard every couple of feet into infinity: I don’t care what party you represent, that’s just a wasteful use of resources and the planet is hotter because of that mess. Pick two or three prime spots and call it good. And get your ass back here to retrieve all of those signs when the day is done.)
I parked on the street instead of pulling into the actual, somewhat-crowded parking lot, a decision based on past experiences. (I got trapped in said parking lot once, when two very excited people on opposite sides of the political spectrum were blocking the exit as they stood in the crosswalk and “discussed” varying visions of “equality”. I’m sure they had valid opinions which they wished to share. I was equally sure that I needed to get to Whataburger before the lunch crowd hit and they’d best move out of my way, pronto.) Partner and I grabbed a mask (I just keep a pile of them in the car now, you?), secured the vehicle and we trotted toward the building, keeping an eye out for Hank and Bubba Joe in Dixie-themed dump trucks.)
As we stepped on the long sidewalk leading to the building, we spied those now-familiar Xs placed six-feet apart on said walkway (in this instance, they were created with blue tape, if you require intricate detail in the stories you read), indicating that there had been long lines at some point. Just as we neared the doors, we realized there was one lone man standing on the primo first X. Partner and I dutifully assumed positions on the next two Xs (ah, the routines we learn in this crazed world). We were soon joined by a rather large contingent of folks who began covering a significant number of the Xs that eventually led, in a roundabout (and partially imagined) way to that distant duck pond.
Dedicated warriors voting for a return to decency? We can only hope so. Despite so many shocking examples lately of men and women bellowing hatred, I still believe that most folks will do the right thing, given the chance.
The door of the rec center suddenly popped open, courtesy of a beaming and welcoming poll worker. “Hey, y’all. Let’s get three more people in here. Come on, we don’t bite.”
Lone Man, Partner and I were the next three. We ambled through the door and found three more Xs leading to a temporarily-converted gym where the actual voting was happening. The magic and the hope, as it were. Then three more things happened which stirred that hope, and the delicate promise of a better future, even more.
First, the poll worker, she of the beaming, personally thanked each of us for taking the time to do what we should. She didn’t have to do this, as her job is essentially to keep the river flowing. But she did, and it was a reminder that so many people have lost the concept of common courtesy. We may not agree, but we can play nice as we go about doing what each of us thinks is right.
Second, the woman who joined the line behind me had brought what I’m assuming was her young daughter. (I didn’t ask, she didn’t offer. I just observed, as is my usual modus operandi.) The daughter seemed a bit young, six years old, possibly seven, somewhere in there, so it’s very possible that none of this would register. But kudos to Momma for trying to instill in her child the opportunity and responsibility of an American citizen.
The young girl never said a word the entire time, not that I noticed, but her eyes were wide and she took in everything. She reminded me of me, at that age. Despite the adventures I often share wherein it seems that I was a precocious child, I was mostly silent, eyes wide. But I took notes, and I remember, and those notes became the stories that became Bonnywood. Perhaps, one day, Young Girl will launch her own blog, and one of the posts will be “The Day Mommy Taught Me About Freedom”. I hope so. I’ll certainly click “like” on that, should I still be around to vote.
Third, we have the intriguing interplay of the converted gym. There were four “check-in” stations along the right side. Stretching out from said stations, heading left, were four long rows of Xs. One would think that the new folks granted access to the gym by Beaming Poll Worker would join the shortest line and then move forward to the right. Instead, due to happenstance or intention, not sure, the newest entrant would proceed to the lower-left X, and then folks would snake up and down along the Xs, instead of straight across. Due to the layout, everyone eventually ended up in the lower-right X, where they would await the next available check-in station.
I apologize if I have not adequately described the machinations of our movements because, in an odd sort of way, it was rather lovely. There we are, all of us masked, all of us a bit out of sorts with what the world has become, but every few minutes or so we all knew where to step and when. It was a surreal dance of dedication and duty. All we needed was a melancholy minuet playing on the soundtrack and we could have been in a scene from a Fellini movie.
That minuet will stick with me as another lasting image in The Year of Our Covid, 2020.
Perhaps, in the future, I can meet up with Young Girl and we can collaborate on a post that mingles the wide-eyed notes we once took concerning a dance that we danced with people who stood on Xs.