I got depressed today.
Actually, I got depressed two weeks ago when we filled out our early ballots. I just got re-depressed when I realized they’re going to count them today.
I know it’s not polite to discuss religion or politics here, not unless it’s a Sunday, I suppose (which it isn’t) or unless it’s an election day (which it is.) So here’s the honest truth. I am the furthest thing from being a Democrat and will never vote that way on any issue. I probably might possibly be a Libertarian except I don’t know what they stand for, and maybe that’s the point. They’re not as offensive as donkeys and elephants. I think Libertarians might actually be from Canada—they’re just polite and friendly all the time.
But I come from a long line of Republican voters and, since I’m pretty usually very normally conservative in almost all of my opinions, that’s the way I vote. And that’s the way I voted two weeks ago. Because, while I know a Democratic president is only one cog in the wheel of politics, even if she did have integrity I don’t want her selecting our next Supreme Court judges or wreaking havoc on our constitutional rights.
I also don’t want a Republican president who’s so out of the box that he can’t be trusted to speak responsibly and respectfully when a tv camera is aimed in his direction. And I want him to get a haircut.
So I got depressed today.
Then I decided I’m not going to watch any election returns today or tonight. But I forgot that Facebook is ever the people’s voice of politics, and I opened up my palm sized computer and accidently read everyone else’s opinion.
Here's what I read. And here's what I learned.
I learned that if I don’t believe in either of the top two candidates, that it isn’t a waste of my vote to write in Mickey Mouse instead. Because if enough of us gather behind Mickey Mouse—on election day, all of a sudden—we can change the face of politics. Don’t you think, though, that America’s politics are already kind of Mickey Mouse?
I learned that I should vote my conscience and throw my single serving support behind my candidate, even if my candidate (who withdrew from the race six months ago) told me not to waste my vote on him. I learned that the most important thing is to exercise my privilege of voting even though we all know that it’s the Electoral College that puts a president in office and that person will be announced as the winner before the polls in Alaska and Hawaii even close.
How does that make everybody feel in our 49th and 50th states? Like they’re always last?
I learned that people are toasting the end of this year’s election and calling today “the eve of the end of political ads.” And that when all the finger pointing, mudslinging and lying are finished, we should let bygones be bygones and stop digging up the past. Finally, I read that none of us should let presidential elections get us down because in the end God is our King (which He is) and none of this matters at all. Which only sounded to me like the Republicans are pretty sure they’ve lost so we’d better throw a religious cast on our sorrows.
I actually started to cry just thinking how confused I was by all the advice on Facebook.
So I did the logical thing. I went to Walmart. Land of the ordinary and home of middle America. I knew I’d be welcome there, tear stained face and all.
Rob and I pulled up in our Tahoe to get the oil changed, and a friendly older man (even older than us, if that’s possible) greeted us like we were old chums.
“Hey, you picked the right place for an oil change,” he said with a smile. “Did you get out and vote today?”
No, I thought. We voted two weeks ago and thanks for rubbing salt in that wound. That, of course, is not what Roby Poppins said. (My husband is “practically perfect in every way;” thus, my favorite nickname for him.)
“Yes, we did vote,” he replied.
“Well, good for you!” said the man wearing an “I Voted Today” pin on his Walmart shirt. “Have a nice day!”
Inside I was surrounded by a bubble of soothing friendliness. Another shopper stood aside, smiling, to let me pass when he actually had the right-of-way.
“Thanks so much!” I told him, surprised by his kindness.
“How are you today?” an employee asked, while I leaned against a shelf full of printer paper, trying to locate my lost husband, our shopping buggy and especially the peppermint mocha riding in the front seat of the Walmart cart. The guy wasn’t even trying to sell me anything.
I found Rob, we paid for our oil change and a few Christmas purchases because Christmas shopping always cheer me up and Walmart prices make me happy, too. But another shopper had also picked up her vehicle from the lube bays, and as she unloaded her weeks’ worth of groceries into the back seat of her vehicle, her door blocked mine.
“I am so sorry,” she said sincerely, as Rob and I discussed Plan B and our exit route. She quickly closed the doors and moved to the other side of her vehicle.
I thanked her genuinely, we quickly backed out so she could finish with her groceries, and we merged into the mass of traffic which certainly was full of plenty of people like me who wished voting for a president wasn’t so traumatic.
And that’s when I really learned something.
All the hype is politics. All the accusations and condemnation are the stuff of which ratings are made. All the people, “we the people”, are kind, generous, decent Americans doing our best to be good citizens. We treat each other kindly in grocery stores, we care about one another in lube bays, we share the space in grocery store aisles. And we’ll still be friends, still be on the same side of survival when this election is over, and tomorrow we’ll still be the great country we were when the Greatest Generation turned the reins over to us.
I might still need another Starbucks in the morning when I finally have the courage to find out who won today. But I won’t blame the barista for the results, no matter how he or she voted.
I’ll just whisper a quiet thanks to all the nice, Libertarian Canadians on Facebook who commented over and over again,
“We’re praying for America here in Canada.”
I want to be like them when I grow up.