America, I’m sorry.
The following items are incontrovertible facts. No debate, no interpretation, just bare-bone line items of truth.
- March 8th: I filled out a form to register as a Virginia voter.
- April: I received a letter in the mail from the City of Alexandria that included the word “voter” or “voting” prominently on the first page. I assumed (expecting a repeat of ’04) that it was my voter registration card.
- November 8th: I was told I was still registered in Ohio, and as such I was unable to vote in Virginia.
Accordingly, I did not vote. The election I attempted to vote in ended up being the most hotly contested and tight elections of the year (VA Senate), and unfortunately, my shame does not end there.
- I received 47 separate e-mails from the MoveOn.org requesting my help. They repeatedly asked for help in telephoning voters to remind them to vote. I made a total of 10 calls and reached a total of 0 working numbers before I gave up.
- MoveOn.org telephoned me five times asking for my services in calling people so that they themselves could call voters. I participated in 0 meta-voter recruitment calls.
- MoveOn.org telephoned me three times asking for help on Election Day. I even signed up for a tentative shift at their DC office. I did not go, because it was raining.
By the end of the day, I was feeling fairly pathetic as a participant in democracy, so when my officemate asked me to drive him to pick up his pre-ordered copy of Guitar Hero 2, I lept at the chance. “Only if you vote first!” I told him. We rushed to my car in a fit of patriotic fervor only to be stopped cold by traffic. When the clock ticked 7pm (close of polling), we reluctantly abandoned democracy and instead went to grab Indian food.
CNN tells me that America did pretty well today, with Rumsfeld resigning and the Democrats picking up seats everywhere. However, I take none of the credit. I’ve failed in every aspect of democracy, from organizing to participating to voting, and I can take no credit for the success of the people I did not physically support.
Regardless, because of all those other participants and voters, today was the first day in a while that I felt optimistic about where America was going.
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?
Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Stevens Smith (November 13, 1787)