I just got home from voting. For the first time in my adult memory, I’m not wearing my sticker. I have mixed feelings about today.
I’m not political. I work hard at that, sometimes. It’s so tempting.. but then I look up, from the local folks who are trying to keep the town we live in running and on the right track. Up there, where the power is heady, there are no innocents. Look, I’m the nice one. The person who trusts other people without really thinking about it. Pollyanna, with rose colored glasses perched on my nose.
I had two thoughts as I watched the magic box suck up my ballot. One, I was the 183rd person to vote in my precinct today. Out of how many, I don’t know. I know this town has about 19K people in it, and more than one precinct. This was the first presidential election I have gone through in Ohio, and the only time I’ve had to stand in line at the polls. Perhaps this is good. I don’t know. I didn’t have to stand in line long to hand over my ID, and there was a small hold up while they helped the folks ahead of me find their proper polling place.
My second thought was that there’s a lot of trust involved in this process. There were pens provided in the booths this year (and may I say that I miss the full booth with a curtain to pull shut behind me, from small-town NH polls? I don’t like this plastic folding barrier on the table where someone could watch over your shoulder.) I don’t know what you’d do if you made a mistaken mark. But on the other hand, no one could erase your marks. And the magic box… I don’t know who opens that. Or if they do. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. To be honest, a mass effort to negate votes strains my credulity. People are fallible. Someone would talk. Or someone would do something stupid, believing firmly that it was the right thing to do, and a boxful of votes would go missing. That, I can believe. I’m flinchy, this election season.
Our system is based on trust. We Americans, we trust a lot. There’s a book I highly recommend, if you haven’t already read it: John Ringo’s The Last Centurion. In it, he describes the trust levels found in different nations/cultures. And us? We’re an innocent bunch, handing our ballots in, and waltzing out the door without a backward glance. Until recently. Now? Well, I’m looking over my shoulder and wondering. Which isn’t a good thing. It’s a symptom that I’m losing trust, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
I’ve been in this situation before. Losing trust in someone, and trying hard to keep it. Or regain it. And let me tell you, it’s a thousand times harder to regain trust than it is to lose it. In fact, I’m not really sure it can be done. I’ve never managed to fully trust again, once I had misgivings.
I did have a happy moment, to offset the doubts. I actually knew two of the people I was filling in circles for. One is a man who I’ve merely spent a few hours with, the other is one of my professors. That was a good thing. I’ll never get involved in politics, but if there is hope for us, it’s there. In the local offices, where we can get to know the people, not just the names and campaign slogans. At the national level, there’s too much corruption, and I have no hope for it. The reforms necessary to regain any shred of accountability and trust… well, it’s not going to happen because it would upset the applecart.
I have no happy thoughts for what will become of us. We’re all Americans, and that still means something. But…
It’s all buts.