Long Lines on Day One
Considering where I live, some may regard it as foolhardy but I took advantage of the first day of early voting in Texas to ensure at least one blue ballot in this state gets counted on Nov. 8. I certainly wasn’t alone. By 3:30 pm, 1,530 people already had voted and the lines out the door snaked down the sidewalk for a 20-30 minute wait, despite having at least 30 of those famously rigged voting machines inside the polling station.
The young African-American man behind me confirmed to me that mine would not be the only blue ballot, but most of the folks in line looked like they had just emerged from a Trump rally. Scary!
Hillary Peaking Too Soon?
My fear in recent days as polls show Hillary ahead by only 5 points against a candidate that could not have had a worse past two weeks is that she may have peaked too soon. This election very well could be decided by ambivalence and apathy, or by the lingering anger of Bernie supporters who simply don’t bother to vote, or by those Fox News watchers who somehow think that all the investigations that have cleared Hillary of her so-called scandals were “rigged” — precisely Trump’s strategy in harping so endlessly on “rigged elections.”
This is not an election to stay home and ignore unless you are eager to see our country destroyed by an orange psychopath.
So, Why Bother Even Voting in Texas?
When the talking-heads on news shows speak of “battleground states,” Texas rarely gets mentioned. Fair enough. The last battle most people remember in Texas was at the Alamo.
I grew up in a Texas that was so solidly Democratic that Republicans rarely bothered running a candidate. It’s true that some of these Democrats leaned as conservative as the John Birch Society, but they were Democrats nevertheless. They weren’t the FDR and Truman Democrats of my Missouri roots, and certainly not the left-leaners found in California and in the Northeast — but they nevertheless delivered Texas’ 25 electoral votes in 1968 to Hubert H. Humphrey.
Those were the days when nobody paid much attention to elections in Texas after the Democratic primary. But, as one scandal after another eroded the establishment Democratic party in Texas — and when defections like John Connally’s raised eyebrows — the Republican party that previously could hold its state conventions in the party room of a Holiday Inn became a force to contend with.
When I returned to Texas 25 years later, it was hard to find a Democrat on the ballot. Had it not been for the colorful and die-hard Democratic Governor Ann Richards, I would have lost all hope. Her reelection defeat by W was the political low-tide in Texas, especially since he later went on to help destroy the U.S. economy — but no weapons of mass destruction — with his pointless $10 billion a month, decade-long war in Iraq. This Bush/Cheney blunder got rid of Saddam, but ushered in ISIS, thanks very much.
W squandered the budget surplus left by Bill Clinton and created a huge hole that Barack Obama thankfully filled with a superb economic recovery.
So, why bother to vote at all in Texas? For me, it’s a matter of principle. I surprised myself by spending longer than the nanosecond it normally takes me to vote a straight Democratic ticket. It made me proud to put an individual check mark next to the Democrat in nearly every race, with one exception. Unable to stomach the lack of a Democrat running to represent me in Congress, I proudly checked the box for Gary Stuard, the Green Party candidate.
Gary stands as much chance of winning as writing-in my own name, but it’s all about principle. And I hope people with principles remember that when they cast their ballots in this most unusual election I’ve ever experienced.