Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Voting: Sort of Like Shabbat

One of the lovely aspects of the way Jewish time works is that after six days of being painfully aware of inequity in the world and trying to change it comes the shabbat, a seventh day dedicated to reveling in the grandeur, beauty and awe of the world as it is rather than worrying about how it ought to be. There are many rules, approaches, and teaching that help us into this view, but it is a great contrast.

This morning I went to the Mount Pleasant Library and voted at about 9AM. I was the 206th voter at that fairly early hour. The polls were supposed to open at seven, so the place was processing over 100 voters an hour (1.67/minute), wow! As I said yesterday i wasn't thrilled with all the candidates i voted for but on balance i am hopeful that they will do a lot to help DC towards its potential.

As I walked to work from 16th Street I was awed by the opportunity I had just used to vote. It was amazing. I walked a few extra blocks to a polling place, stood in line for 23 seconds or so, told them my name, signed a voter roll, chose from a paper ballot rather than electronic, penciled in the middle of a few arrows (next to the folks i endorsed yesterday, of course), took a receipt off the top of the ballot, fed it into a machine, put on an i voted sticker and caught the bus to work. Only in the last few hundred years has voting taken place on this scale. For most of that time it was rife with polling taxes, intimidation, discrimination, and other abuses. Many of those problems continue in milder forms. After I voted I reflected on what a beautiful opportunity it was. It was the shabbat of politics. For months we work for campaigns, voter equality, political justice, and then it is the seventh day. We have done what we can and we vote. After that, it is no longer the political shabbat and we jump to insure that every vote is counted and every voice is heard. An endless cycle of six days and a seventh.

I still don't have a good blessing for voting. any thoughts? I am hoping to have a good one by november 2nd. For those of you who vote absentee, nov. 7 is huge, request ballots as soon as you can. Find out when your state will accept applications and put it in your datebook right now.

update--this report from a friend, evin i, who voted at the other MtP polling place (i think there are only 2):

I too voted this morning and felt wonderful about it -- I went to Bancroft Elementary and couldn't help but grin as I heard kids playing outside in the playground, peripherally aware that their gym/auditorium was the site of serious civic engagement. On the bus to work, I'd say I saw a good solid 1/4 wearing "I voted" stickers. And there was one girl, who barely looked 18, on the phone saying "Man, get yo' lazy ass outta bed - you know you got to vote today." It made my day.


At 9/15/2006 , Blogger Ruby K said...

I liveblogged the other side of election day at the riot act. If voting is shabbas, does that make campaign staff and vols equivalent to clergy who have to work on shabbas?

At 9/18/2006 , Blogger ZT said...

astute observation ruby-k. i think if we work at it we can extend the metaphor even further into the absurd.


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