Thursday, February 7, 2008

Voting under the Redwoods

A young man in cowboy hat and plaid jacket, limping dog beside him, opens the door of the Grange Hall kitchen for his pretty little girlfriend and me. The Grange, alongside the Big Sur River and built in the 50's, has an institutional smell: fresh paint plus decades-of-dampness saturating its bones. It's seen years and years of elementary school sing-a-longs, community plays, political pow-wows, AA meetings, yoga, theater, and martial arts classes.

I greet the same smiling ladies in bifocals that process us through the voting paperwork line every election day. Wait, this big ballot won't fit in the one electronic machine (smell the coffee, Linda) so we do it the old fashioned way, the test-taking style of filling in the arrow.

As is often the case, I feel like an idiot looking at the ballot initiatives. What a sorry example of democracy I am, despite the bucolic setting. My own recent personal life too chaotic and chock-full of commitments for me to have taken the time to read the sample ballot, or even to apply my frequent method of referencing the local liberal-ish free paper, voting the "Monterey County Weekly ticket."

So, on what I hope is principled gut-feeling: Indian tribes should have what they want from the capitalistic system, it's the least we can do, why impose value judgments on gambling if presumably it can improve life for the tribes. Term limits are good, yes, yes, so are more government funds for roads and schools. I vote yes on them all.

Then the vote I've been waiting to cast all my life. Growing up female and being told there are no limits, that a woman can be President, I'm damned if I'm not going to vote for one. Especially a viable candidate like Hilary, a tough bird with lots of experience and, it's said, a great laugh. I pensively fill in the arrow. Like acting out many fantasies, afterwards I feel empty and slightly dis-satisfied, not so thrilled. She's a hawk, for heaven's sake, which turns my stomach. But at least she's talking about troop withdrawals.

The next morning though, I have to admit it felt GREAT when I walked into my workplace and my nosy Obama-loving boss guessed out loud how I'd voted, AND Hilary won in California. I punched the air and did a little dance. At last I got to act on my girlhood dream, and see someone of my gender move a little closer to being Leader of the Free World. Hooray Hilary. That's my girl!

World Peace, please.

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