Monday, November 06, 2006

One day to go…and no voters came...

I really didn’t plan on following the What if they gave an election and no party came with this post. Then, at 3 a.m., after wrestling all day with putting auctions on eBay, I was sitting in bed, eating on a pint of Cherry Garcia, watching CNN and saw her.

There a blond suburban Virginia woman attempted to cut her lawn while a George Allen supporter bobbled around trying to get a pledge, in blood no doubt, for a vote..

“There’s one way you could convince me [to vote for Allen],” she said. “Start my mower.” He did; pulled the vexing little rope and shazam, mower putting noise.

Clearly the woman had intended a light jab, but it, as they say about some smiles, never reached her eyes. She was weary.

The polls show the gap between Dems and Reps narrowing.

I feel like that woman looked. Or I perceived she looked. It was 3 a.m.

That same weariness has dominated the last few days. I’m tired. We’re all tired. The Reps (except for GW and Cheney, et al) are going left. Dems are going right. And they’re all a world away from us. Yeppo, there is more clearly than ever an us-and-them.

For nearly 30 years, my husband anchored our family with a white collar, large corporation salary that tipped us into upper middle class territory. His running joke, albeit tongue in cheek, went along the lines of hoping my salary covered my American Express bill.

Gradually, insidiously, that state of life has eroded into where did all the money go?

I’ve stopped thinking an election will change that. For the first time, I may not stay up until the wee hours watching tote boards tomorrow. And know I’m one step beyond the average voter when it comes to election watching. I spent a lot of years in courthouses and campaign headquarters, watching tallies come in, jazzed, then later, bone tired and sometimes alcohol soothed, leaned over front page paste-ups on an extended deadline for the morning paper. Most times, I even stuck around in the pressroom watching that miraculous sight of news spinning off rolls and landing in a heap of warm newspapers. Yeah, I worked in one of those great anachronisms for a while. For me, that was almost as good as sex. As were the memories.

But even for me, that election night energy has waned. For a good number of us, I can understand where the goal changed from looking for a better life to just keeping this one from getting worse.

I’m in Jim Talent country. Now in a dead heat with Claire McCaskill for US Senator from Missouri. I fielded my 13th come-to-Jesus (both literally and figuratively) call at 9 p.m. last night. All recordings, no live people. Oh, that’s a voter connector for sure.

I’ve watched Talent and his no gay marriage, no abortion message ad infinitum. No matter what your leanings or religion, those messages won't wind many people up when their own committed relationships and those of their friends, gay or straight, stress under increasing financial woes. As for abortion, even for zealots, that has to come second to the basic needs of their already living children, like education, health care, jobs.

Don’t give me the economy is good. The pols need to step outside the beltway and their multimillion-dollar war chests. There are not many people out here who aren’t seeing differently, drowning in debt, arguing with contrary health insurance providers, just plain working poor or lacking jobs altogether. Or at least don’t have someone within two degrees of separation who is.

All the while, that big, showy balloon with the two billion a week war tally on the side hovers. The comparisons scream. Here in St. Louis, with a World Series win in a brand new stadium, pols tout the projected tax revenues for the soon to be built Ball Park Village. Over a 40-year span, BPV proponents project $291 million in tax revenues to the city, $142 million for our city’s near third world school district. We can’t help but look at the balloon and think of the schools one week of war revenue could build. Yeah, yeah, no one would ever spend on schools what we spend on war. Given.

For my money, McCaskill’s counter just doesn’t give me what I need. Or maybe there just isn’t a counter for that.

With all the attack campaignings -- Super Bowl parties with Playmates (ever heard of internet porn, candidates?), secret actual sexist agendas supported by an author/candidate's fictional characters (novels without evil for good to overcome, or fall prey to, really sell well, right?), well, you know the rest of the steps in that dance.

The races read more like science fiction than a plan for a better future on this planet. That does not entice people to wrestle with voter lines, ID checks and touch screens.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope there is a lot more, well, hope, out there than I’m seeing.

Getting me there would be simple. Just one candidate looking at me, even through a television screen or over a phone, saying I know it’s tough. I want to help. I can start my own lawnmower, thank you.

God, I miss Dick Gephardt.


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