05 November 2008

My Election Story

I went to my polling place at about 10am, figuring the mid-morning or mid-afternoon would be the best time to find a short and efficient line (Give me convenience or give me death!), and I was right. There actually wasn't a line at all, and I was in and out of there in less than five minutes.
In fact, there were about five times as many volunteers as there were actual voters at the time, and one of those volunteers was an older white man of about 75 years of age who was manning the machine in which voters fed their ballot after filling it out, and handing out the "I Voted" stickers...
(trust me, this is going somewhere)
So, after I had filled out my ballot, I approached this man and the ballot machine, and in front of me there was a young black woman of about 20 years old who had apparently made a mistake on her ballot because the machine rejected it. She had to tear up her ballot in the presence of a volunteer, and then fill out another ballot, and so she walked away, back to a booth to do it again.
She couldn't have been more than fifteen feet away when this old man, out of the blue, says directly to me, "Fucking jigaboos."
I stood there dumbfounded for a second or two, staring incredulously at this man, who continued talking.
"There are so many blacks voting today, and apparently alot of them never voted before because alot of them are filling out their ballots wrong. What's this world coming to?"
This apparently wasn't a rhetorical question, because he looked at me as if he expected an answer from me, or more likely, some agreement.
But I just stood there, staring at him. I truly didn't know what to say, and could finally only suggest, after a few seconds, that he "ought consider what he's saying, and who he's saying it to". I shook my head, fed my ballot into the machine, and left the polling place with a slightly sour and bittersweet feeling, which had stuck with me until earlier tonight.
This is the 7th presidential election I've voted in, and aside from my very first vote in 1984, the most exciting and satisfying presidential vote I've ever cast, and here was this old racist fuck who had tainted the experience for me, and who knows how many others...
But tonight, that sour and bittersweet feeling has given way to something approaching hope, the kind that Barack Obama has promised America with his words and his demeanor throughout the campaign.
Take a look at that picture up above, which I think encapsulates how I've come to feel about this election in general, and my unfortunate encounter with that racist old man.
Racism surely won't disappear in America with the election of our first African-American president, but I do know that the old America that the old racist fuck knows and understands is now sliding into history, and while it's still going to be awhile before we put our country's troubling history completely behind us, I think it's safe to say that we're all, right now, bearing witness to some deep and fundamental changes in our society.
America no longer "belongs" to old racist fucks like that guy. His beliefs and worldview are now truly becoming a thing of the past, an archaic reminder of untenable ideas.
America now belongs, not just to those two kids in that picture, but to all of us, moving forward towards a more perfect union, unconstrained by worn-out ideologies of blind hate and ignorance.
Like I said, we've still got a long way to go, but we're definitely moving in the right direction, and last night's election of Barack Obama is a huge step. That's the world "we're coming to", and it's a newer, better world for sure.
Now, how about we secure civil rights for homosexuals? That would be another huge step towards that more perfect union.
WTF, California?
Hotcha! Hank

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