November 6 provides yet again an opportunity for folks to exercise their right, and their obligation to vote, to participate in the democratic process that we have been following for over 200 years, with some minor changes – like allowing women and African Americans to participate in the circus. Now is the time to see the reality that each vote does count, and it is not always easy to see that in a sea of 130,000,000 votes. But it does. So, first off, make sure you vote. Even in a state that is a given…vote.
Lawyers, Funds and Money
Elections used to be somewhat simple…You went to a polling precinct, marked your ballots with an X and stuffed it in a box. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “stuffed”. It was also simple to cheat the system…just stuff a few, or few hundred extra ballots into the boxes and an election might change. So, states began looking to alternatives. Big lever action machines, punch cards [remember Hanging Chad], computers and the old ballot boxes. So now, some states can tell you the results within moments of the end of voting, others…just a touch longer. And they all have flaws. And that brings up lawyers…
This election, like 2008 and 2000 will have a cadre of lawyers standing by “just in case”…just in case their side is behind would be more accurate. So we have a system that is already fraught with politics, already fraught with potential for nuanced rulings and we add a court system that is another layer of politics. Go Democracy!!! It’s enough to make one start quoting the Bard….or Poe.
$6,000,000,000. SIX BILLION DOLLARS. That is how much money is being spent on this election cycle at the local, state and federal level. And some people are wont to say the economy is poor. Certainly not if you are one of the media companies raking in advertising money – and generating controversy at every turn which generates more advertising dollars. [This part reads better if you are singing Spinning Wheel in your head while reading it]. PACs, special interest, hate groups — all exercising their free speech to promote their candidate or, more likely to trash the opposition candidate. And much of it started November 5, 2008.
So now, in the last month of the election cycle we have entire advertising campaigns, entire media programs focused on rumors, focused on “it will be historical if this is true but If those things are not true, then it’s a different story”. The philosophy…let’s spread the rumors and know that some folks won’t understand the difference and we can say “glad it wasn’t true” later, when it doesn’t matter. And yes, it happens on both sides of the aisle.
To Election Night
Now this is the fun part and the hard part. The internet has made it possible for everyone to have instant conversation, a barroom chat on any subject. Election Night won’t be different. With ONE EXCEPTION. People have much invested in this election. Both their personal political philosophy and their hopes for the future. Those are important. So to that, everyone should have a sense of perspective. Those of us who have voted for long numbers of years can say we have lived through losing years to Nixon, Reagan, Bush or to Carter, Clinton, Obama – depending on your politics. This will be no different.
Now, to the important stuff…Facebook, Twitter and FARK posts and a snapshot in history. The last one first. Take a picture, or make a list of your friends on Facebook before Election night. It will be interesting to see just how many folks you lose by the next day depending on if you annoy or are annoyed by the end of the night. It will happen. You can “hold your tongue” but where is the fun in that?
Now, to Facebook and Twitter…my guess [my official election night call] is that Facebook and Twitter will face meltdown between the hours of 6:30 and 9:00PM EST. That is when Virginia [7:00], North Carolina, Ohio [7:30], Florida, Pennsylvania [8:00], Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin [9:00] close and media predicts a winner based on six exit voters and the color of a woolly worm in Kettering, Ohio. After 11:00 it should be over one way or the other* [*see Lawyers above]. After 9:00 EST Facebook and Twitter will calm down. The winning side will still be on commenting and asking where the folks on the other side are and posting up various photoshop posters of the win and the folks on the other side will say “I think I’ll take a timeout from Facebook for a while”. A few outliers will try to explain why their candidate lost [Sandy, media, voters, Mayans, “it was the plan for 2016 all the time”].
So, here is the deal, VOTE…that is the most important part. Don’t freak out election night. One side will win, one won’t. Have some fun and enjoy the fact that we get to have this democracy [OK, technically a Democratic or Constitutional Republic] and are able to have a free exchange of ideas in person or on the World Wide Waste of Time without fear of being taken away for saying something that offends some political leader.
See you on the other side.