"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

3.04.2008

the view from Texas

Well, I finally made a decision. But much like the enthusiastic young Obama supporter who accosted me as soon as I left my polling place, if you ask how I voted on here, I'm just going to smile and reply, "That's private."

My polling place was busy, but not overcrowded. When I arrived, the booths were full, but by the time I checked in and all that, I didn't have to wait to vote. The most striking thing about the precincts (I vote at a two-in-one) is how many young people were working the polls. Normally the people manning the voting location are retirees, but today there were young women and men along with the stalwarts of party politics in our precincts.

I was voter 79 at 10am, which is higher than normal turnout for our precinct. The clerk estimated that 90% of those voters were voting in the Democratic primary.

I've had this button up in my home for the last four years. It says, "My vote doesn't count, but I'm still voting." And normally, that's true. Here in Texas, it's pretty much a given that the Republicans will win all of our statewide offices and take all of our electoral votes in presidential races. If you don't vote for the Republican candidate, your vote doesn't count.

But today my vote mattered. It's a pretty cool feeling. I don't know if everything will be decided by tonight, or if this campaign will stretch on and on and on. And I'm glad that the endless stream of mailers, commercials, and rallies will end tonight. But it has been really neat to get a good look at the candidates, to watch them try to sell us on their platforms and personalities, and to get a better sense of what they stand for.

As I stood at the eSlate machine to register my preference this morning, I teared up a little. You can call me a nerd; I don't really care. I have too many friends who live in places where they haven't always enjoyed this privilege. I think about those Congoleses mamas who walked for three days and stood in line for six hours to cast their first votes ever on that amazing day in July 2006. And I remember what it was like to live in Kenya when you couldn't talk about politics, didn't know who you could trust not to turn you in. I think about Rwanda's sham democracy, and the risks that Zimbabwe's opposition takes to keep challenging Mugabe's illegitimate rule. Most of all, I think about those lines to vote in South Africa, where black South Africans stood for two days to finally throw off the shackles of the regime that had denied their humanity for so long.

Voting is a precious, precious right. I want to encourage all Texas in Africa readers in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont to go vote today. Our democracy doesn't work if we don't participate.

2 Comments:

Blogger UPennBen said...

For the 5th consecutive year, I was the only person voting in my precinct when I showed up. I bet if I show up at the caucus I'll be made a delegate by default. National Convention here I come!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 5:22:00 PM

 
Blogger David McCullars said...

Mother of twins and I voted this morning. She opted for the "I voted" sticker -- I didn't.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 5:35:00 PM

 

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