Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The only place that matters


Life don’t wait. It pushes us to deadlines and meetings, appointments and consults all day long. And then there’s the personal life. And then back the other way. And back again. All of it pressing, some of it urgent. There’s probably something important you’re responsible for doing five minutes from right now.

That’s an everyday thing, a consequence of the relentless times we live in. But you know what? That’s really true today. That nagging sense you have of something big happening today is real. Because some time today, there’s a polling place with your name on it. And of all the meetings to be attended and appointments to keep, of all the places that are necessary in your life today, that polling place is the only place that matters.

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The most bitterly contested, potentially transformative presidential campaign of our lifetime ends today. By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock formation on the floor of the Grand Canyon, you’ve heard from everyone: the ‘Vox, the punditburo, the robocallers, your neighbors, your friends, their neighbors and friends, your conscience, your heart, and the internal voice that shouts or whispers the decision you know you’ve already made (no matter what you told the pollsters).

So … unless you’re having a baby or attending to matters that are literally life and death, there’s nothing left to do but show up, to follow through on what you’ve begun, to finish what you started. No excuses.

Get your nails done tomorrow; they'll look just as bad then as they do now. Hair issues? Put a cap on your head and get down there. Don't have a ride to the polls? Call the headquarters of the candidate — either candidate. They'll get you there. Waitin’ for your buddy to swing by with some herb? Tell him to swing by tonight. Put that gotdamn Nintendo down and Wii your ass in real-time out to where you vote. Football game to watch? Nice try: Monday Night Football was last night. So it’s raining? We’re in Seattle so you get no sympathy from here. Snowdrifts a foot high? Hitch a ride on somebody’s snow machine. Got a cold? Wear a mask. Got the flu? Wear two.

◊ ◊ ◊


It should go without saying: This time, apathy is not an option. It’s never an option, really, if you live and work in and gain the fruits of the world’s leading participatory democracy. But the choices of this election couldn’t be a clearer, less ambiguous demarcation between one iteration of America and another. Between one future for America and another.

To tweak a phrase used during the campaign, this is the election we’ve been waiting for.


Our democracy is a messy thing; sausage-making looks like clean-room duty at NASA by comparison. But the thing about our democracy is the way that, ultimately, all the noise and soundbites, all the Drudges and Rushes, all the Countdowns and Hannitys, all the yea or nay in the 24/7 public square distill to one hundred forty million random, anonymous someones like us individually and collectively making the choice to stand and be counted as one, and over time as one squared by a hundred — to break out of our everyday comfort zones and responsibilities, to check the boxes and pull the levers that define this nation as, even now, the envy of the billions who inhabit the rest of this planet.

And now’s that time. Today. Make your mark. “Stand for the things you know are real. You have you to complete, and there is no deal.” Stand up. Show up. It’s your nation. It’s your life. It’s your time.

Just do it.

VOTE. Be there. Ahora.
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Image credits: Top: AP. Middle: © 2008 Bill Larson, Clarkesville Online (Tenn.) Bottom: Republished under GNU Free Documentation License. Map: Swingstateproject.com. “Stand” lyrics: © 1969 Sylvester Stewart.

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