Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Takes Dedication

To my son Tommy,

It took about an hour and a half to vote this morning.  I went right after mass so got there roughly at 7:30 and didn't get out till 9:00.  In a world where they can process millions of vote every second for a reality TV music singing contest show, you would think they could find a way to process the one hundred people in line this morning a bit faster.  Of course the presidency should be no American Idol but year after year I am seeing less distinction in the two campaigns.

As I pulled up to Green Street Academy (the middle school in our neighborhood that used to be West Baltimore Middle or some name like that) the parking lot was fairly full but there was no line outside.  I did see a tented plastic greenhouse like structure and thought that might be to keep people lined up warm, but thankfully I was mistaken with that and it probably is actually some type of greenhouse school project.  I walked in and the amount of people between me and the voting booths were minimal.  I thought to myself this is my luck day.  Then the people in charge directed me to a line around the corner.  As I peered around this corner I saw a line stretching the length of the hall. 

I resisted the urge to flee and procrastinate and possibly miss voting altogether and trudged down the hall.  I had a good group of people around me in line, who were in good spirits, and we had a couple jokes about how you really have to want to vote.  About half way up the hall I noticed that another line was forming.  The line I was in was just to get the little card to stick in the voting machine and the second line was for people who had waited in my line and had their cards and were waiting for a voting booth.  It dawned on me that this could take a while but once again I resisted the urge to flee.  Rumor came through the line that one of the hold ups were they didn't have enough of the little electronic voting cards.  Some guy in line quipped "What? Did they expect only ten of us to show up?" and everyone chuckled.

 I sat there in line thinking of my other years voting.  Was it that I now am voting in the city that things seem to be slower and there seems to be a problem?  Don't remember this happening when I lived at your grandparents whose voting place is prominently white.  In fact, I don't remember ever sitting in line for more than five people to vote but I guess I was experiencing some of the institutionalized racism because of where I live.  Let me tell you that sucks.  At the very moment that thought crossed my mind, I looked up at some of the school decorations and saw a sign that said "Perseverance".  I joked with the people behind me and asked if that was meant to inspire the students that usually roam these halls or to inspire the voters today.

When I was in the second line and nearing my chance to vote, your mother walked in.  She looked surprised to see me and asked what I was still doing here.  I laughed and told her she will find out why I was still here in about an hour and a half. A couple more jokes with the guys around me and I finally got ushered to my voting booth.  I cast my ballot and got my "I Voted" sticker and headed off to work. 

On my way up to work NPR was talking about people voting in the dark and running generators and all the problems with those hit hardest by the storm.  It made my little hour and half jaunt in a heated hallway seem trivial.  It takes dedication to vote and those people out there voting in New Jersey and New York in all that storm aftermath sure are showing dedication.  Many people see it as a nuisance but let me tell you, it is a right, an honor and a privilege.  I doubt it will ever get to a single vote deciding the election but every vote does count.  That last comment might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it can make a difference if someone or something wins by a large margin or a small margin, and every vote effects that.  So when you get your first chance to vote somewhere around 2027 or 2028, I expect you to show the dedication and the commitment and cast a vote.  Many people have shown their dedication before you by fighting and sometimes even dieing for their right and your right to vote.  Whatever the obstacle, be it something as stupid as a long line or something as major as a storm and power outage, don't throw your hands up and say "Oh well".  Just get out there and vote.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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