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The painless way to vote

Casting your vote early can relieve any guilt you might have.

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There’s this, about voting absentee: If you do it early enough, you can put you mind in neutral, at least the political part of it. You’ve already done what you could do, so there’s nothing that can hurt you.

Do it on Oct. 5, as I did, and you have a whole month off.

The headlines: “Will Prop. 72 hurt employees or help them?� and “Kerry, Bush jostle for final debate,� and “Candidates differ on housing� — all sound foggy, like when people talk to you when you’re on NyQuil.

The words are there, but they just don’t matter. A state of bliss.

The hate-and-lies letters to the newspapers fade into the background, as if the very ink they’re printed with is disappearing in a haze. At most, they engender a soft smile.

It just doesn’t matter, because you’ve already done it.

Of course, you still have feelings and reactions to what’s going on. You can see Cheney The Growl vs. Edwards The Grin, and you can hear Sen. Barbara Boxer’s hand patting her back for getting fed-bucks to pay for part of the repairs at Mission San Miguel, and you can do the arithmetic of which Fat Cat Got The Most in the corporate-tax gift, and on and on.

But having voted already, it’s simply a story, not a saga. Your life does not depend on it now, you won’t make the country and city and library crumble based on how you vote Nov. 2, because — hey, guess what! You already voted.

Okay, I admit I voted absentee because I’m going to be out of town Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. Out of the state, away from the thundering presses and the thumping pundits telling me what happened, how and where, what blue and red mean, which went up, which down, and by the time I get back here, it will have been pushed back to Page B-7 and the Sunday morning talking-head snoozeathon.

Likely, if I were going to be here, I’d be down at the precinct booth clutching my sample ballot and gulping rapidly in anxiety, knowing that my vote could — maybe even would — make it happen or stop it from happening.

There is an admitted adrenaline rush in that “being there� feeling. It’s what makes thousands of people jam stadiums to watch grown men beat each other senseless, when they could get a closeup view of the carnage on the Barcalounger and pay less for the beer.

Or, even better, tape it, and, knowing the result, watch it the next day seeing how it happened, like some omniscient oracle.

Some people vote absentee in other ways. They do their Christmas-Chanukah-Kwanzaa-whatever shopping in August. Come October, they’re spared the outrage at how the trees and tinsel have taken over the ads (“What happened to Halloween? Don’t these people have respect for anything?�).

What they’re doing is taking charge of their calendar, telling Pope Gregory XIII where to stick his system of days and weeks. It’s been in place for 422 years (his years, of course), except in the parts of Europe that didn’t adopt it for more than a century (his century).

Who says this is the month it is? When the U.S. Supreme Court can tell us who the president is, what’s real?

There was a really scary movie that played at The Palm recently, not “Fahrenheit 9/11.� It was “What The Bleep ... ,� and it is about something
I didn’t understand going in and didn’t understand much more after I saw it, but I did get
one part of it.

You can control your time, if you control your time.

Not double-talk; it means you really can take charge of what you do, and you do that by taking charge of what you do.

That’s enough to scare the bejeezus out of the manipulators and button-pushers who use our time to their advantage, and train us to respond to their signals, and make us beg for more. ³

Marvin Sosna is the true definition of absentee. When he can be found, he can be reached at Mars2@charter.net.

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