November 04, 2008


"I voted today!" reads the sticker on my thigh. Why my thigh? Well, it's a wonderful, sunny, breezy fall day. If I put the sticker on my jacket, people wouldn't see it if I took my jacket off. If I put the sticker on my shirt, people wouldn't see it if I wore my jacket or my scarf. I briefly contemplated putting it on my face, but decided the stick and stiff circle would probably be uncomfortable.

I am proud that I voted. I am proud of my country, where I have the opportunity to vote. I am proud of all the people who are coming out to vote today. I am proud of the little old ladies who site patiently in the polling places and check out names and addresses, hand out our ballots, and give us our stickers when we're done.

A lot of people have spent a lot of time lately telling us what is wrong with our country, not least of all the candidates themselves. A lot of historians have gotten a lot of face time lately telling us about the history of politics in our country, how it has changed, and very few think it has changed for the better. There was a book review in the Prairie Fire this month (a local newspaper) about The Political Mind by George Lakoff who thinks "...the capacity of government to carry out critical moral missions is systematically [being] destroyed from within the government itself, while public funds are used to provide capital for private corporations to take over those critical function of government and charge the public a great deal for doing so, while avoiding all accountability." He calls this "privateering." It is all of a piece.

Yet today, this day, I am optimistic; I am hopeful; and I am proud of my country - my flawed, imperfect, crazy, stupid, bigoted, violent, angry, wonderful country. Despite how screwed up we all are, somehow we all manage to agree on this one thing: democracy. Maybe we haven't gotten it right, gotten it perfect just yet, but we've come a hell of a long way. Over the last 232 years, we've expanded the franchise here in the United States. We've encourage democracy throughout the world and provided a constant example that it does in fact work.

Of course, there is still more work to do. The turnout today encourages me by showing me that we are willing to do that work. The talking head on CNN just read a poem (go figure): "Some people live for history. We live for the moment just before," she read. That moment just before, this moment, that's where change happens, where we can make it and shape it. By voting, amongst other things.

Sounds like Dharma to me!

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