Tuesday, November 07, 2006
At the Polls
I'm not in Australia, I'm in the USA, but I thought this was funny!
This morning we drove to our polling place bright and early, hoping to be among the first in line. Voter turnout seemed larger than usual, and we had a bit of a wait. Outside, people exiting the building (in our case it is city hall) smiled and greeted us.
As we entered the building we heard a buzz of friendly conversation. Everyone was smiling. It was noticable. Pulling out our identification, we chatted a bit with the poll workers. Ken tried out the fancy new electronic voting machine that has made its debut appearance in our precinct. I voted the old-fashioned way, entering the tiny booth, stepping behind the short curtain and filling in the ovals with a black marker. Ken took longer than I did. Apparently the new method is not particularly fast.
As I said last post, I do not fit very neatly in either party. I had a bit of angst as I looked at the lists of names, wondering if I was doing the right thing. (I blush to recall that the first person I campaigned for was Richard Nixon.)
In Wisconsin we are voting on whether or not to reinstitute the death penalty for capital offenses. I voted no, but I know most of the people I know will vote yes. I never quite understand how those who are strongly pro-life when it comes to those yet unborn can be in favor of the death penalty. Of course, I know that we are speaking of an innocent life and a convicted murderer. But I find no basis for execution in the New Testament. All the "Christian" arguments I hear in favor of the death penalty are from the Old Testament. I don't want to live in the Old Testament, thank you!
I know each side can make a fairly good case for their point of view, and only God truly knows the answers to these kinds of issues. But if I err, I choose to err on the side of grace and mercy. And as for the argument about how much it costs to house an inmate versus the cost of execution--people need to do a bit more homework! Enough about that.
As we left the polling place, I pondered the blessing of voting in the United States of America. It was quite clear that being able to cast a vote had actually lightened people's spirits. We are not required to vote, and we are also not afraid to vote. There were no soldiers with rifles guarding the polls. There were no tanks passing in the streets, no threats of retalliation, no anger or frustration in people's voice or on their faces. On the contrary, the atmosphere inside city hall was almost jovial, rather like a friendly neighborhood party. Perhaps people were thinking, just a little, of the blessings of freedom.
Or perhaps they were just incredibly relieved that, at last, the weeks of mud-slinging and outrageous personal attacks were finally over. Thanks be to God! Sad to say, I think the campaigns in Wisconsin reached a new low in sleaze. I was reduced to yelling at the television screen last night, even though I voted for the guy who brought me to the edge!
I do not trust in politics to make this world or this country the place I wish it could be. However, I always vote, even when I struggle with the choices. I vote because I can. And for that I really do give thanks.