Voting: A Love Story:
The Rude Pundit was all primed and ready to pound out another post of existential despair masked as cynical hope. He was going to attack people who hypocritically vote for Romney despite benefiting from the policies of Barack Obama (like the friend without health insurance whose pregnant wife was treated like a queen because of the Affordable Care Act). He was going to go after writers on the left and right who said, essentially, "Don't worry. No matter who wins, nothing much will change" as a louche argument born of bourgeois privilege and a stable job.
But before writing it down and posting it here, the Rude Pundit decided to go to vote.
He had had some doubt that his polling place would even be available since there are still areas here in Sandyland that are without power. But it was up and running on a generator, with no heat. And everyone, from the black guy who told the Rude Pundit where his district's table was to the Hispanic woman who found his name in the Big Book o' Registered Voters to the elderly Indian dude who monitored the booth to make sure the vote went through, was kind and friendly; they were even patient with others who did not show up in the Big Book. It went as smoothly as it could have possibly gone, an idealized version of what participation in democracy should be, not the ludicrous, racist, oppressive, and childish version of things in states that went for Barack Obama that are run by Republicans. The Rude Pundit lives and votes in a working class neighborhood that is overwhelmingly non-white, and there are no problems at all because no officials from the state or county are causing them.
Something else happened, something unexpected but gratifying. See, the Rude Pundit has felt a profound disenchantment with the electoral process in these here United States, and it's something he has expressed regularly. And he felt it fully, a revulsion with the masochistic punishment we self-inflict for years leading to this day, until the moment he stepped through the half curtains and into the voting booth.
It was a moment of honest bliss. In there, with no one screaming in his ears or assaulting his eyes, no constant thrum of argument, no Nate Silver calculating the odds like a madman possessed by the porcine ghost of Jimmy the Greek. Just one person, alone, with his thoughts, in the cold public school auditorium lobby. Even though the Rude Pundit knew exactly how he was going to vote on every candidate and every issue, he looked over his choices. When he pushed the button next to Obama/Biden, he was taken by surprise when he smiled, a small smile, but a smile nonetheless, and a feeling, once again, like four years ago, that he was doing the right thing, not grudgingly, not out of anger or revenge or hatred of any kind, but just...the right thing.
What was weird, and maybe this is what happens when you're exhausted and passing through streets filled with torn out walls and floors and bags of ruined property, was that everyone seemed to have a similar look, as if thinking, "Oh, right, it really does come down to us."
(Note of existential despair: If Barack Obama wins the electoral college but loses the popular vote, Republicans will bring down hell and lawsuits and mob action and gridlock that will make 2000 look like a game of Candyland.)