Posted by: Dave | November 7, 2008

Voting Day

I started my walk this morning the same as usual, at approximately 5:15. The weather was brisk, about 40 degrees. The sun wasn’t up yet, and the air was permeated by the hickory-laced fragrance of someone’s fireplace that didn’t quite die out before they retired for the evening.

As I rounded the turn toward the long straight away that fronts our elementary school, I noticed two gentlemen in the predawn light. They were both carrying signs, sticking the wire frames into the soft dirt, one on one side of the school driveway, one on the other. As I proceeded closer, the blue-gray light revealed colors and letters, I was able to read the names. One man carried signs reading “Webb,” another reading “Allen.”

Both men continued their task, jockeying for the most viewable terrain from the street, quickly putting each of their signs where they would offer the most benefit for their respective candidates. It is voting day. Our local elementary school serves as our voting precinct. In less than an hour, the parking lot would be full, a line will form outside of the gymnasium, and my neighbors will exercise their right to cast their vote. Months of television and radio ads, mud slinging and obfuscation will soon come to a climax and a winner will be declared.

This is what it comes down to. Two men, motivated for their candidates enough to get up in the cold predawn light, doing what they can do to support a candidate they have likely never met, never been in the same room with, and will probably never know. The candidates, probably still snug in their beds, are unaware of the actions of these two anonymous supporters, but totally dependent upon their actions and tens of thousands more just like them.

This is what the pundits call “grass roots” efforts. Volunteers, motivated by a passion for issues of the day, willing to toil anonymously on behalf of their cause and their candidates, hoping they can make a difference. Maybe one person, still sitting on the fence, will see the name on one of these signs as he approaches the gym, and decide to cast a vote for their candidate.

I stopped my walk and watched, far from their view, obscured in the darkness. Each, without speaking, returned to their cars, opened their trunks, and retrieved another armful of signs, and proceeded to the other entrance to the school. Again, they placed their signs, a quiet competitiveness about them, as they sought out the best locations.

Neither one of them spoke to each other, but they weren’t rude either. There was no confrontation, no argument, no aggressiveness toward either party.

This has to be what the founders imagined when they crafted our constitution and imagined this magnificent experiment. Not the attack adds, or the million dollar fund raising events, or the October surprises, but anonymous believers, loyal to their cause and candidate, trusting in a system to work it all out.

I continued on my walk, and as I passed them, I bid them each good morning, and wished them the best of luck.


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