A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Vote for Elmo

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had trouble understanding politics. The two-party system befuddled me in junior high and high school; I took honors history and did well, but I was just parroting what I'd memorized. A week after the test I couldn't remember what the Democrats were supposed to stand for, as opposed to the Republicans.

When I lived in Europe, things got worse. From the perspective of a European country with Marxists, Social Democrats, Greens, Centrists, Radicals, Trotskyites, Christian Democrats, Liberal Reformers, Labourites, Progressive Unionists, Daisies, and so on and on, it's even harder to differentiate elephants from donkeys. Back in the States and old enough to vote, I was confused. Each candidate had one or two proposals that resonated with me, but I could never subscribe to a whole platform.

Fast forward many years. I've finally stopped beating myself up for not understanding politics. I do understand it, and I don't like it. As far as I can tell, the only thing we need a federal government for is waging war, and I'm against that, all the time, no matter what (yes, even if the Nazis are holding guns to my children's heads). Everything else would be better accomplished by private citizens. Schools. Street sweeping. Mail delivery. Just sit back and let the free enterprise system do its thing.

City elections were tonight--mayor, city council, school committee, a couple of ballot questions--and given my stance, I was not intending to vote. Then friend Maggie called and asked if I would consider taking my evening stroll with Taz in the direction of the fire station (our neighborhood polling place). She had volunteered to hold signs for a couple of candidates right outside, and could use a bit of company.

Taz and I walked down and visited for a while. I think three people went inside all the time we were there. Since I was there, and since I'm nosy and a bit contrary, I decided to exercise my right as a citizen and take a ballot. I left Taz with Maggie and went into a booth to see what was what.

For Mayor, Charles V. Ryan (again!) or Domenic Sarno. I don't like Ryan, but the best I could say about Sarno, a barber's son, was that he was extremely well-groomed, and that he was not Ryan. I want to like him, but I've been underwhelmed by some of his pronouncements. And underwhelmed by his performance on the City Council the last few years.

School committee--no opinion. City councilors--no opinion. Ballot question on ward representation--sure. Anything that makes government smaller and more local is OK by me. (Let's get it so tiny we can't even find it any more.) Mayor? Ryan--absolutely not. Sarno? I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I had two other options. Don't vote for anyone, or write in a candidate. Not voting is to me an action, a negative gesture against politics. Refusenik actions are protests, not laziness or apathy. But my other option was to write in a candidate. Since I had gotten all the way over to the voting booth, it seemed too bad to waste the opportunity to make an even clearer statement of my position. I voted for Elmo.

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