It started just after midnight, this morning, in the chilly New England village of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire and it will end just after midnight, tomorrow morning, in a fishing hamlet called Atka, Alaska. With paper ballots and electronic devices, either the incumbent, Barack Obama, or his challenger, the former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, will become the 45th President of the United States of America. Two years of rhetoric and record levels of campaign spending now lay in judgement of millions of people who are hurt and angry and will deal with that over a twenty-four hour period. It’s the one day when Americans really matter.
Rain beat down on my suburb, so I pulled on an thicker sweater than usual for early November in Georgia, gave up the pathetic search for an umbrella, and made my way to the car as the morning broke during the six-o’clock hour. My youngest daughter’s elementary school served as my polling place. The kids were out of school, but the parking lot was full, and the line already reached fifteen people out the front door. A nice woman with salt and pepper hair, holding a purple umbrella took pity on me and I tried to smile through her right wing political conversation with her friend in front of us, in line. I entertained myself by reading news on my phone. I ran across a Hollywood story about Nicolas Cage still owing over $7 million dollars in taxes so he’s taking every role he’s offered and thus will be in fourteen films over the next two years. It occurred to me that Nic Cage’s lot in life, debt, struggle, and the lack of good choices on top of bad ones already made, pedestaled him as the symbol of the 2012 Election.
My election odyssey lasted only thirty-three minutes. By a quarter after seven, I’d pushed my key card through the voting machine, made my selections, bemoaned the lack of a Millard Fillmore/Franklin Pierce Dream Team and a queasy feeling came over me. When you give blood, cookies and orange juice are offered to help with the weakness and lightheadness. Shouldn’t snacks and refreshments be a part of the process with the candidates I was stuck with this year?
I exchanged smiles with the election officials, waved at the woman with the purple umbrella and ran to my car, because it was time to tweet and Facebook. Those are the rights I was voting for, correct? I felt the green and white decal in my pocket that showed “I Voted”, and laughed. My daughters will tweet and blog that their dad voted and all they got was this dumb sticker.
The issues are plenty and the arguments are vast. I don’t pretend to have the answers. I pressed names and picked from the menu of mostly rich white dudes and ill-executed ideas. I knew I was just like crazy-ass Nicolas Cage. I’ve made mistakes, granted not to the extent of 15 homes and 35 cars like Nic, but I was struggling like him and many other Americans. But, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the other not good enough politicians I voted for would have to be okay for now. At least today, I, and so many of you, matter.
Who wants to go with me to see Nic Cage in The Expendables 3 and National Treasure 3?