The Majesty of One
February 6, 2008
Walking to my polling place on Super Tuesday, I noticed more
people than usual out and about. When I realized they all were
going in the same general direction as I was, it occurred to me
that these people had put their lives on hold for a while as they
walked out of their house to go wait in a line - to vote. It was
a warm, sunny day yet I experienced an unexpected case of goosebumps
as I absorbed the enormity of what we were all doing, each of
us alone, yet collective in its outcome.
Further, there was no security at the polling booths, no protests
and no violence. In fact, the very ordinariness and civility of
it all simply overwhelmed me.
What a stark contrast from those horrific images of the deadly
election disputes in Kenya. And we have seen other vehement fighting
elsewhere with cries of foul play at many polling booths around
the globe. Yet as other countries struggle to get this election
thing right, we here at home make it look so easy.
There was something else that was even more astonishing. We all
must have believed that our one vote mattered. One vote out of
millions, yet we were undeterred by the minuscule odds that our
one vote could ever make a difference. Record turnouts were occurring
across the country because of a newfound recognition that it really
is up to each of us to make a determined effort to shape our own
Seeing all of my neighbors caring enough to participate in this
singular act that best defines a free society softened the cynicism
I had kept pent up for so long. The combination of witnessing
what can happen to our country if the wrong person is given the
reins to power, coupled with electrifying candidates, created
the perfect storm for getting involved.
I never thought I would see this level of civic involvement again.
I guess we are not too jaded after all if millions of us together
can dare to hope that we can steer this country back on a course
away from the brink of disaster.
Long ago in junior high, my friend ran for student council president.
The votes came back a tie, but she would have won if she had voted
for herself. She lost the run-off.
Our one vote does count when we go to the polls. This election
year, it seems that we also understand more than ever that it
also counts when we dont.