Even though early voting started last week, it took until today for it to reach Bumfuck USA, where I live. I got there about 9 AM, thinking "Hot damn! There's hardly anybody here!" Then I realized they weren't open yet, not until 10 AM, Figuring it would only get more crowded, I lined up with the other two people already waiting.
We were an interesting trio: Me, your middle class bohemian white girl, another woman, roughly in her late 40s, wearing a man's quilted flannel coat, cigarettes in hand, and an older sweater-clad black man, who was fairly quiet at first.
We started chatting, to kill time, and at first, we didn't talk election at all. Then some campaigner came up to us and started handing out pamphlets, which I pointed out to him, was forbidden in that area. He mumbled something to the effect, "Oh I didn't know..." and wandered off to easier targets. My line buddies were visibly relieved as he left, and confided in me that they were both first-time voters this election and didn't know the protocol of where and when campaigners may accost you. As I was pointing out the sign that told campaigners where to stop, one of our local hopefuls for the House came up, all hand shaking jocularity. I shook his hand, as did my buddies, and the woman asked him what he would do for us if he was elected. He began his list of well seeming, albeit vague intentions, and when he paused, I jumped in.
I pointed out that our town is one of only a few towns that surround Raleigh that don't have impact taxes levied against developers, that our growth is unchecked, unsupported, and irresponsible. After his eyebrows came back down to earth, he agreed, and told us he wanted to see impact taxes that would include more money for building schools and hospital/rescue services, as well as just for roads. And then he drifted away.
The cat out of the bag, so to speak, we began talking amongst ourselves about the candidates, although studiously not using names. The woman in the flannel coat muttered, "I don't want to see no hockey mom end up as president", acknowledging a fear many have, concerning McCain's advanced age, and his four-time fight with cancer already. I laughed and agreed, and turning to Sweatered Black man (and btw, I don't consider it denigrating to acknowledge someone's skin color, only to treat them differently for it) said to him, "I am very hopeful for this election, and it's potential to be of major historical significance." He nodded and told me that his sons had pushed him to go and register to vote, because they thought so too. "If my candidate becomes president it will go a long way to right a number of wrongs in this country", I said then, and he tilted his head and looked at me, as if just seeing me for the first time. "That's a really good way to put it", he said, and I went on to explain. "The divisions among us in this country have to end. So you're black, and I'm white, but we're both Americans, and we both want the same things out of life. Only by working together are we going to achieve that. A lot of Americans don't go and vote, thinking they have no representation or voice, but it's crucial that we all step up and cast our vote, and not leave it to a quarter of the population to decide everyone's futures."
I think I might have blown his mind, but in a good way, I hope. It's too easy to let our differences qualify us, to divide us, but what is this nation but a melting pot of ethnicities, of cultures, and should we let old rich white men call the shots for a culture of that kind of diversity?