GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!
I am not a fan of winter, nor am I overly fond of November, when the glory of changing seasons has faded and the trees begin to look like forlorn sticks etched against the gray backdrop of the sky. I have always wondered why we hold Elections in November. Wouldn't Elections have a greater turnout in May? Perhaps in May, a person could wear jeans and a t-shirt to the polls, rather than bundle up like Santa Claus and shiver in some long line.
Now, instead of putting an X on a dotted line, we have to vote with machines. After struggling with typewriters for years, then graduating to a computer, this process does not make me happy. Although typing was vastly improved by the advent of the personal computer, simply because one can back up, erase, change things, use a Spell Chek, etc., as well as print with little effort...there is no doubt that computers can do some completely illogical things, like welcome a virus, send you innumerable Spam messages, or be invaded by some invisible eye that gleans your personal information from its files.
In the last election, thousands of Ohioans testified about the unreliability of the voting machines, or the lack of them. They also testified to being sent to the wrong precincts, time and time again, until they gave up and went home. They testified to being bullied by precinct workers, questioned as to their veracity as residents and citizens. Votes were tossed away. Votes were denied. And, in some cases, the voting machines recorded one candidate's name, no matter which button you pushed. I'll let you guess which candidate's name that was.
The strange thing is, the testimony of all of these Ohio voters was virtually ignored by the Press. The mysterious circumstances of that election....when the Exit polls, always reliable in previous years, were declared to be wrong and, just as the whole affair was being concluded, a new winner was announced.
For this election, 7,000 lawyers are being hired to watch the polls at various locations and try to assure accuracy in voting. And, in Maryland, an election using these machines turned out to be such a mess that the Governor has gone back to paper ballots. He is alone in his sensible solution to the problem, and other states will chug along with the voting machines, despite protests, lawsuits and the breakdown of the machines.
In the first place, few of the precinct workers know how to program, repair or understand a voting machine. This involves the expertise of certain technicians who are hopefully non-partisan. The machines themselves have either been manufactured by Diebold, a company whose leader promised to deliver the last election to George Bush....or they are manufactured by a company based in the U.S., but actually made in Venezuela. We all know the leader of Venezuela is an enemy of George Bush and is not above hacking a few machines to prove his point, despite all denials.
Is there anything the United States can do these days that isn't a jumbled mess? It seems that everything we have touched lately turns to dust at our feet. Our Immigration Department seems to have been sitting on their behinds, as hordes of Visa holders outstay their welcome and live here for years, and hordes of Mexicans cross the border to work and take advantage of Social Programs.
And, in the case of a National Emergency like Hurricane Katrina, a million or more people waded through murky water to safety, or climbed to their rooftops in desperation, going for five days without food or water, while our President flew overhead in a sort of daze, and the head of FEMA made television appearances about his readiness to help, while doing nothing.
Not until the entire nation rose up in protest and hundreds of people died did anyone act, then the scene was followed by botched reconstruction, waste of money, and a million or so people splattered across the country in homeless confusion.
Then, too, and most importantly, there is that dratted War in Iraq. It's a total disaster, yet the President clings to it as though we cannot survive as a nation unless we completely destroy that Middle Eastern country, which seems to be swiftly turning to sectarian civil war and the ascendancy of Islamic fundamentalists closely connected to Iran, rejecting any effort toward Democracy. Although it has been equated with the War on Terror, it seems to me that the War there is one of civil disruption and that the true home of terror is Afghanistan, which is another problem that will eventually have to be faced.
Really, folks, it would seem that the richest nation in the world...or, at least, the formerly richest nation in the world...could handle things a little more efficiently. It boils down to the fact that it is not the American public that makes up that group who "won't do certain jobs." It's the American leaders who are falling down on the job. It's the Do Nothing Congress, the Presidential Administration with its own Agenda, and the Cronies inbetween that are ignoring the needs of the American people and allowing us to turn into a nation dependent upon foreign goods for survival, with little manufacturing of our own.
I have listened to campaign speeches and watched campaign Ads and heard that more than a billion bucks will be spent on them in this upcoming election. Yet, if you are an American Middle Class worker and your former job has faded away, you will be lucky to bring back two hundred bucks in your paycheck and expected to feed your family on it, as well as pay your bills. I won't even mention Health Care, which is a disaster in the wings, waiting to explode. Something is off-kilter in a country filled with poor and desperate people, with politicians who think nothing of blowing a million bucks on their nasty Campaign tripe!
One station that I watched, with the help of Closed Captioning, bunched all of those Ads together in a ten-minute harangue that enabled every viewer to go to the bathroom or to the kitchen for a snack. Bless those station managers! Better than "Jennifer Granholm is a Failure" in the middle of Jack's captivity by the Others on that forsaken island, don't you think?
I suspect the Democrats will win in this upcoming contest, because our Republican friends have led a disastrous course. I have trouble equating Christianity with War, and I question the faith of those who favor torture and bloodshed while spouting Scripture. But, even in questioning this, I am violating our country's values. These folks are free to believe what they wish, but that doesn't give them the right to govern, infiltrate our schools, and put out a mountain of rightwing Spin that dwindles into a load of crap, if you apply a little common sense to its ingredients. And, if they win, I hope they win honestly. I can live with an honest win.
You see, folks, I am fond of our Constitution, and tacking bigoted phrases in Amendments that change it do not please me. I believe Gays have the same rights I do, and I believe laws are made to be followed, not to be ignored by a privileged, elite bunch! When our Constitution says all men are created equal...I see no "except for" at the end of that sentence.
But, whatever your beliefs, whatever your party, the main thing is to get out there and vote. Tackle those machines with gusto, and we'll hope they behave long enough to come up with an honest count. If you do not vote, you have no right to gripe about the results, whatever they may be. So, get to those polls, stand in those lines, face down the grumpy, authorative poll workers, and do your honest, American duty!! Our future depends on it!