Imagine this. During the Battle of Bunker Hill, a volunteer patriot (whom I’ll call “Nathaniel” because it has an old-timey ring to it) takes a British musket ball through his left ventricle. He drops to his knees, screams out “For Liberty!” and then falls over dead. Or maybe he screams, “Ow fuck, that hurts!” That fact remains that he makes the ultimate sacrifice to make our great democracy possible.
So this morning it was my time to do my bit by voting, admittedly pretty small potatoes compared to poor long-dead Nathaniel. I almost forgot to do even that. I was sitting in a cafe this morning with my coffee, bagel, and laptop. I was checking email, Facebook, Twitter, anything to avoid finishing my latest fiction endeavor that’s taking way too long already.
One of my Facebook friends updated his status as having just finished voting. I had completely forgotten that it was election day. OK, I thought, I’ll read up a bit on the candidates and initiatives during lunch so I won’t be a complete idiot when I go vote after work.
Then I started to reconsider the whole vote-after-work thing. I was pretty sure I was going to need a cocktail and the folks at the polling place are likely to give me serious stink eye if I show up there with a drink in my hand. I therefore had no choice but to give myself a five-minute crash course on the issues and take care of my civic duty in the AM.
As for initiatives, there was some shit about term limits and a proposed new cigarette tax. Yeah whatever. I then moved onto the primary candidates. I knew I couldn’t bring myself myself to vote for Dianne Feinstein. Hell, I’d vote for Charles Ng if he were running against her. I took a look at who else was on the ballot and decided to go with David Levitt. I didn’t know much about him (still don’t) but he’s apparently a pro-weed computer geek and that’s good enough for me.
Boom! I was an informed voter and off to the polls I went.
Everything was going as planned as I was marking my selections on the ballot until I got to the section for the US House of Representatives. I supposed I could have voted for Nancy Pelosi and probably would have if there were no one more amusing to choose from, but there was one opponent named “Summer Shields” and I just couldn’t help myself.
I left the polls thinking, “Sorry Ms. Pelosi, but I had to go with the candidate most firmly committed to feminine hygiene.” What a clever boy I was and I couldn’t wait to brag about it online.
On the BART ride to work, I googled “Summer Shields” on my phone. I was surprised to learn that he is male, which is no big deal, and also found out that he is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche.
Oh dear fucking God! I actually voted for a LaRouche crazy.
I’m OK with other kinds of crazy. One of my greatest joys came in 2003 when I got to cast my vote for Larry Flynt to be governor of Calfornia. I also made it a habit to vote for Ellis Leonard Keyes, a perennial mayoral candidate who was also the founder and (I believe) sole member of the Party of Life. “Life’s a party. Spread the word,” he would often say regardless of context. But Larouche crazy is just plain ugly. It’s paranoid, psychotic, anti-Semitic, and oh yeah, they say the Brits are out to get us as well. If I had just put a moment’s forethought into what I was doing, I could have avoided emboldening one of these assholes.
So Nathaniel, there in your resting place for these 237 years, I really must apologize. You and others like you gave your lives so people could live in a country where we can freely choose our representatives and leaders. Of course, you don’t get to chose whose freedoms you die defending, and as luck would have it, you died defending mine.
Sucks, doesn’t it.