Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Civic-Minded Cynic

There might be no greater topical illustration of the relative nature of time than this very day. It is Election Day 2010. It was but two years ago on this day (or close enough for government work anyway on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November) that this nation elected Barack Obama as our President. Much was written in the days leading up to - and leading out of - that historic election about the incredible spike in voter turnout and the enfranchisement of countless thousands who had never felt so enfranchised previously. The question posed by the pundits was whether that feeling would last.

If those pundits are to be believed, the results of this year's elections will answer that question with a resounding "No". Much has been written leading up to this year's Election Day of the feeling of "business as usual" on countless college campuses around America - kids who may have been moved by the spirit of Obama-mania in 2008 but who now report themselves as being unmoved by this election cycle. Whether the Emperor has clothes is for those much savvier than I to debate and to determine. A better question may be whether he has any legs. I suppose by day's end today or at the latest dawn's breaking tomorrow we shall have a better handle on what its answer is.

Perhaps a test of interest is to be found in events such as the Stewart/Colbert Rally on the National Mall on Saturday afternoon? We were in D.C. this past weekend - having made our arrangements secondary to the Marine Corps 10K well in advance of the Rally being announced - and for a brief while on Saturday afternoon found ourselves among the countless thousands of folks on the Mall. I must confess that I am not much of a political rally kind of fellow so I know not how this one compared to others. I was impressed by the diversity of the crowd in terms of of age, sex, race, geography and (if the countless signs were to be believed) sexual orientation. I was also impressed - blown away actually - by how pleasant and well-behaved the folks we ran into there (literally) were. It was almost as if they assembled for a free concert/comedy show with a bit of politics mixed in. We met people in our hotel who had come from as far away as the Midwest (Iowa I think) and the deep South (Orlando Florida) to attend.

As someone who has never fancied himself an activist (or a reactivist for that matter) the notion of driving several hundred miles at least for a bit of politicizing is anathematic to me. While it is not my cup of tea, I respect the fact that it is precisely that for other folks. I presume that time will tell how the crowd that was on the Mall on Saturday afternoon breaks down along the "political activist vs. here because it sounded cool" continuum.

Today is Election Day. At some point today, regardless of who you intend to vote for, you should take the time necessary to cast your ballot. Griping about what goes on in the world around us costs nothing. Choosing to make your voice a voice that is heard and not simply one emanating noise will cost you. It will cost you a bit of your time. It is worth the price. Pay it and be glad you did.

A wise man from the greatest of our fifty states once observed that, "Nobody wins unless everybody wins." He could have added that, "Everybody wins when everybody participates." Not as catchy for certain but just as substantive. Just do it.


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