Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Feeling Patriotic


(My standard Election Day post, edited to bring it up to date...)

I do love Election Day.

And it's a good one, lots of great stories. The Senate elections alone: Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren: both of their stories are fascinating, no? So are those of Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson. Plus I'll finally have to, or won't have to, learn to spell Heidi Heitkamp -- and I've been a fan of hers for a long, long, time. There's also that neither ticket has an white Protestant, which is probably an unappreciated story right there in plain sight. I'm sure there are tons of great stories in House races, and then in downballot ones, too.

You know, it tend to mostly be interested in how small a portion of democracy is occupied by today. I think democracy is found in the complex workings of elites and activists within party networks, and in Congressional committee rooms, and in interactions within issue networks, and in White House showdowns between the president and a reluctant Senator...all those things, to me, at an intellectual level, are democracy just as much as today's events. But nothing beats the rituals of Election Day. Hey, I even like the annoying and useless "What Does It All Mean" stories, as long as I can restrict my intake enough. I love watching the spin. I love the weather stories, and the cheesy shots of the candidates voting, and the oh-so-careful anchors not revealing what they all know from the exit polls (As much as I think we should ignore them, I miss the leaked early exit polls from the pre-internet era, which made you feel like an insider if you heard them and a goof when they turned out to be phony. Now we mostly get the goof part). I'm one of those people who could easily do without the National Anthem, and the Pledge doesn't do much for me -- and I really dislike the Selig-imposed 7th inning GBA. But then today comes around, and I know that I'm a very patriotic citizen of the USA.

So, Happy Election Day, everyone! Vote early, vote often!

17 comments:

  1. There's also that neither ticket has an white Protestant, which is probably an unappreciated story right there in plain sight.

    I take the point here; it's an unusual configuration of religions and ethnicities, no question. But FWIW, I do believe that Mitt Romney is a Protestant. I don't believe he's a Christian, mind you, but Mormons manage the trick of being the one without the other. Still, that makes the story all the more remarkable: we've got two Catholics, one Mormon, and one Black Muslim... I mean, Congregationalist. A great country indeed! To paraphrase the Rev. Wright: God damn, America!

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    1. I think it's up for grabs whether to classify LDS as Protestant or not. I'd probably go with the etiquette rule here: I'll call 'em whatever they want to be called, but I'm not sure what that is.

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    2. Yes, there's no final authority on such questions ("final authority" being more or less what Protestants were revolting against). But I'm prepared to give them Protestant, if they want it, on the grounds that Mormonism arose out of Protestant revivalism and, if anything, was theologically more Protestant than the Protestants -- taking reliance on the Bible all the way to writing a new Bible, and extending the Protestant "priesthood of all believers" to the godhood of all believers. But these doctrines and others, I think, are so out there that they're no longer Christian.

      Again, though, as a Protestant myself, I grant that there's no final authority on that point. And I do feel a bit sorry for LDS -- probably the only time I'll ever say that -- over the fact that their public face in recent months has been Mitt Romney, a man congenitally incapable of making a forthright case for anything.

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  2. I woke up my wife this morning at six by loudly humming the Washington Post march while getting ready to go vote. I'm a little embarassed I didn't volunteer this year (as I was embarassed I didn't in 2010, 2008, and 2004), but it's still an exciting day.

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  3. I was standing in line next to an older gentleman, and he asked me, "So, what kind of ballot do we have this year? There aren't any computers over there" as he waved over at the place where people were filling out their ballots.

    I looked at him in confusion and said, "I have no idea. I'm only voting once."

    He did *not* find that funny.

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  4. "Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren: both of their stories are fascinating, no?"

    It's like John Smith and Pocahontas.

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    1. ...or General Custer.

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    2. Don't demean Elizabeth Warren's proud Cherokee heritage, you white devil.

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  5. Today is the day we Americans wait in line for hours to vote. We vote on touch screens, with no verifiable paper trail. We vote for candidates we've never heard of, for offices we didn't know existed. In some cases, we aren't able to vote because the State or local government decided it was in their partisan interest to make voting more difficult.

    Call me crazy, but Election Day is probably the time of year that I feel the least patriotic.

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    1. Not all Americans.

      I fill out a paper ballot, with a permanent felt marker. Then I myself get to feed it into an optical scanner, and see the counter on that scanner add one to it's counter. If there's a re-count, those ballots are there to be counted again.

      At the end of the day; our election clerk has to count absentee ballots. And then the results are reviewed by poll watchers and announced; takes about 1/2 hour after the polls close.

      A few years ago, one local office had a 2-vote difference, triggering a re-count. The re-count found a 3-vote difference, one voter had filled out the ballot with a pencil instead of the marker provided, and so that ballot was scanned, but no votes registered, by the optical scanner.

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    2. I've come to a new appreciation of the integrity of our state elections are after my own experience in a party caucus, which resulted in my ballot being discarded (all provisional ballots were summarily discarded without review). Legally, there was nothing that could be done -- the party makes and interprets its own rules. Not only would this have been illegal in a state election, but the guilty party would face the prospect of jail time. When it comes to our elections, it's easy to forget how good we have it.

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    3. @zic

      You are one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, you are in the minority.

      @Couves

      We have it good because election officials aren't legally permitted to summarily discard ballots? That's a pretty low bar to pass, isn't it?

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    4. To Andrew's orginal comment: patriotism, to me, is different altogether from deserving or not deserving of criticism. So I'd say that Election Day is especially patriotic for me because it puts democracy front-and-center, and democracy is very close to the core, IMO, of what makes the US the US. Even when we fall short.

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    5. Andrew, I've learned to set a low bar when evaluating most of what our government does ;-).

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  6. Happy election day!

    I actually had a Christmas Eve-type dilemma falling asleep last night because of the anticipation. Which is really not quite right since at least you get to open your presents right away Christmas morning but when you wake up on Election Day it's just 12 more hours of anticipation.

    Thank you to JB and the Plain Blog commenters for all the great discussions. I've learned an incredible amount about elections and politics from reading PB this cycle.

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  7. My mom just made a good point: She said the ultimate horror-movie nightmare would be a remake of Groundhog Day, but with the constantly repeating day being the day before a big election. Which was a colorful way of saying she's really glad this is almost over.

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  8. I actually kinda hate election day. Mostly because I can't focus, but neither can I get any real information of use all day long.

    Election NIGHT, on the other hand, is exciting and awesome. But, like Drew, the anticipation kills me all day.

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