election angst

I was insanely busy Monday and Tuesday, to the point that I was rendered nearly wordless, so I didn't blog. And then this morning, when I had some time to catch up on the blogosphere, Blogger's servers were down and I couldn't post. Couldn't even read other blogspot folks.

Well, it's all speeding along just fine now, thankfully. But I feel dreadfully out of touch with everyone.

But I realized this morning that I've also been reading less and saying less the past few days partly out of my anxiety/exhaustion/cynicism about Tuesday's election. The world I live in is populated with people who are all going to vote against Bush on Tues--there's no convincing necessary. And my tolerance for wading through political faction-speak has really really worn thin. So that's part of it. But another part is my anxiety and pessimism. I actually think it's entirely possible that Kerry will get the votes next week -- but that doesn't mean they'll let him "win." Each time I check my inbox, I read more dreadful news about voter intimidation, registration tampering, etc. And that's just the stuff we already know about.

Unfortunately, I can't even say that I once had a belief in representational government that has now been tarnished (as I've heard many people claiming lately). I've never lived in a state where the Electoral College rep voted the way I did (or would have, in my pre-voting age years). I've never lived in a state where my politics, my beliefs, were given voice at all. I've also lived in more than a few places where the state government was so obviously corrupt as to be practically a joke. (For instance: I grew up in a state where all jobs in the parks, the DMV, the road crews, and many other things were controlled by whichever party was in power in the State House. And this was written into the state constitution.)

Yet I do still vote. I believe in voting. That was one of the few things that was really impressed upon me as a child. Voting was a solemn, somewhat mysterious activity, not just a civic duty but a moral responsibility. My mother is a 1st-generation American, and her parents had left an essentially feudalist society in coming here. They took the democratic process very, very seriously.

Once when I was young, my parents brought me along to the polling place with them. I had to wait in the hallway while they went into the curtained booths, making the whole thing seem very mysterious and powerful indeed. Afterwards, I asked my mother if she and my dad voted together. She said no, that whatever you voted was secret and you didn't have to tell anybody. She said they might talk about it beforehand, but in the little booth you were by yourself and it was only up to you. (Yup, the existential overtones were pretty common in my family. That was the closest thing we had to a religious creed. By the time I actually read Sartre, I already knew that existence involved suffering and responsibility.)

So I believe in voting. Especially in the local elections held in off years -- who sits on city council often has much more direct impact on my life than my ineffectual votes for Senate or President. It's odd to believe in the act but to know that in an election like this year's, it's purely symbolic. My little ritual of participating in a system, in a society, that doesn't really want me to participate.