I wait in line for my turn to vote.
My mind casts back to all the different ways people have voted over thousands of years. By a show of hand. By stub of pencil. By flipping a lever. By punching a hole.
Today, I vote by car.
Well, not really, but it feels like it as I slowly move forward in the line approaching the big metal ballot box outside of the Police Station and Public Library in North Plains, Oregon.
Like it sounds, North Plains is not just a one street town, it is a four block, one street town. It is also a city wanna-be. Since its very conception, a spot on the rail line that took out trees and milled lumber from the foothills of the Coastal Mountains of Oregon into the big city of Portland, it has wanted to be a city. Dreamers invested and voted to unincorporate, then incorporate the area, forcing it to become a city. It has worked long and hard for many decades to turn it into a thriving community. They even built the award-winning Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course that brings the golfing greats in annually to clog up the country roads and block traffic. Other than the famous Elephant Garlic Festival, there isn’t much of a town here, but they keep trying. This year, they held their first Fourth of July festival and parade, a parade that lasted about 15 minutes with long gaps between the vehicles carrying the people whom could have walked the two block distance of the parade route lined with cheering family, friends, and curious onlookers.
Always fighting for their presence on the map.
Today, I see the community in and around me as they line up to vote, all approaching the only ballot box in town.
I’ve participated in one way or another in votes over my life. Brent and I registered to vote and got absentee ballots for voting from Tel Aviv to help defeat the second attempt for Bush to ruin the lives of too many, and lost. We were that determined to see him ejected from office, but once again, lawyers got involved and again, through staggeringly stunning callousness, he was reelected for another four years of pain and suffering, not just for those within the country but for those serving the country and those living and working outside of the country. We paid terribly for his residency in office, trust me.
We went with friends while they took the day off to vote in the Israel National Election. It is a national day off and people gather up family and friends and picnic gear and head out to parks and playgrounds to vote and party. Israelis know how to throw a good party. They bring out the contents of their living rooms, and in some cases their bedrooms, to set them up in parks to sit and chat, sing songs, eat themselves into a stupor, sleep in the sun, and just hang out. Late in the evening, they pack it all up, having done both their civic and mental health duty, and return back to the grind of their lives.
When we returned to the states, I walked into the campground office to ask for directions and found several locales watching the last two minutes of President Bush give a speech. I waited patiently for their attention to turn from the television to me, and when it did, I politely asked if Bush said anything interesting.
One man turned on me and chewed me, literally, up one side and down the other, and added a few kicks to my backside just to make his point.
He told me that I wasn’t to speak ill of our president. That he was the most important person in the world and that what he had to say was a blessing from on high. Basically, that they didn’t appreciate someone like me (I believe the phrase was “uppity northerner and yankee”) say anything against the president as he sat next to the right hand of god.
This lasted well on ten minutes so by the time he was done, I calmly replied, “Thank you.” Then walked out of the office to find help from someone else to find the local grocery store.
My car moved forward and I decided, like many others, to just park and walk up. I got out and approached the box at the same time as two older men, and watched them dance over who would put their ballot in first. I reached the back of the box, the alternative submission point, and slid my ballot inside, my civic duty complete.
As I drove away, three more cars came in behind me, all voting by car in this small town we could walk from end to end and around again in about 15 minutes.