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Election Day meditation

November 4, 2008

My husband and I planned to vote at the opening of the polls. Normally we vote in the evening, but we wanted to vote early this time. We wanted to vote as early as possible, but not before traditional Election Day. Reality had been banished from the forum for so long that we urgently wanted to assert it in a dispositively physical way, with pen and ballot, without further delay.

In the past, we’ve arrived between 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening and been numbered in the low 50s of voters for the entire day in our precinct. But at 7:00 this morning, the lines at our polls were out the door, and I had to be home by 7:45 to give my Cat his insulin shot. We decided to vote in the evening. My husband brought me home and went on to work. I prayed more than usual for his safe return.

The high turnout in our bluest-of-blue precinct means happiness for Kenya.

The media have been hyping that McCain voters are gloomy and Obama voters are thrilled. That’s because McCain voters have a clue of what’s at stake. We don’t dance to the enthralling prospect that some president is going to buy our gas and pay our mortgages. Our imaginations don’t work that way.

My friend and I exchange emails exhorting one another to hang in there. Between the lines are so many deliverances to remember: surely this time, too…Lord, in wrath remember mercy.

I watch the final episode of Ken Burns’s The Civil War, a DVD I borrowed from the library. Photos and journal readings are interspersed with out-takes from interviews with historians. Shelby Foote was a pro-Union Southerner with a good reality base. He basically avers in the end that if we were the righteous nation we thought we were, we wouldn’t have fought the war.

I think the North attached its identity to its cause (the integrity of the Union and the end of slavery) in order to appropriate the righteousness of its cause. But its cause was really the anti-cause of the South’s worst failure (the refusal to confront the evil of slavery). Historian Barbara Fields says we’re still fighting the Civil War. Honest to blasted gourds…

I cannot begin to justify slavery. I become irritated with Southern apologists who try to render it as Biblical. American slavery was not Biblical at all; it was manstealing and it was cruel and not everyone was as decent a master as Stonewall Jackson, and he had no right to own stolen people, either, so how he treated them is beside the point. The fact that slavery was Constitutional points to a defect in that human work product, as great as it is, and is not a competent defense of slavery.

I honestly don’t know how important it was to preserve the Union. Christ doesn’t tell us to be one nation; he tells us to be one Church. God raises up our leaders and instructs us to submit to their authority. And my pastor reminds us that this doesn’t mean we volunteer to be thrown into fiery furnaces.

At 10:30 I’m on errands and notice the parking lot at our polling place is still full but there is no line out the door. I am cheered to hear Rush call the presumptive leading contender a “little squirrel.” So I’m a little churl.

Polling place fraud and intimidation lace afternoon headlines. The most unbearable perversion of American thought is that liberty and lawlessness somehow go together. Black Panthers (they’re still around???) with truncheons provide “security” outside polls in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton campaigns inside the polls (an “interview”) in New York. And so on, and so on. God save the Republic from democracy. The Enlightenment revived the dimmest ideas.

I voted. I have a sticker that says so, and it’s good for a free cup of coffee at Starbucks, tonight only, a boon that I did not redeem. We waited in line, outside and inside, a total of 40 minutes. There were two lines, A-L and M-Z. The A-L line was much longer, of course, because most surnames are A-G, or so I’ve heard. The happy Russian people who arrived at the same time we did were in the M-Z line and left more than 20 minutes before we got our ballots. Three lines were not an option for some reason. Dear Lucy the pollworker just kept telling us to cuddle up in line so the people outside could come in from the cold. I declared the alphabetic distribution stupid, as did an election observer. Everyone was sorry sorry sorry but the County wouldn’t let them have a third line and the alphabetic distribution is engraved on some stone tablet in some government archive.

I received my ballot and voted without any problem. My husband, right behind me, had to wait for his ballot while the pollworker helped a fellow cancel his touch-screen ballot and issue him a paper one; he’d become confused. Then a policeman came in and talked to the pollworkers; we don’t know why. My husband had to wait for that to end too. I had no idea any of these things were going on until my husband told me on the way home. By the time I finished filling out my ballots, my back was so zapped from standing too long that I was staggering.

I had never seen so many people before at our polling place. There was no counter on the ballot collection bin; they weren’t using the scanning machine that is equipped with a counter, so I don’t know how many people had voted during the day.

People in line were neighborly; it was not in the least an edgy crowd. This is the best thing about physically voting in your precinct. There is a sense that everyone really is in this together, and that’s ultimately a good thing. These are our neighbors, and they are white, black, Russian-speaking, young, and old, and they are friendly, well-mannered, normal people, roused by something to vote this time, and evidently not before, and they don’t strike me as a crowd that’s going to let America as we know it become my worst nightmare on their watch. Or maybe that’s my foolish postmillennial optimism.

  1. November 5, 2008 9:29 am

    It is.

  2. heidi permalink
    November 5, 2008 3:09 pm

    A very charming set of reflections Lauren. I loved the ones on slavery. I am disappointed with the election but am not sure that a McCain victory would have been a deliverance either. I’m just grateful that God’s King is set on His holy hill, no democratic process involved :-) We don’t get the opportunity to mess up that election.

    I have been meaning to write for a little while and will soon. My computer access is restricted b/c of the cold (sitting at the desk makes me hypothermic!)

    I have been thinking of you today and hope you are well and in good spirits in hope of our absolutely certain deliverance in Christ.

    I’ve been thinking of you, too, Heidi. God’s sovereignty and his own gracious elective mercies of course prevail. He removes kings and sets up kings. He has also borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, though we do still get to live through them. Stay warm!–L.

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