For reasons to long and twisted to enumerate here, after almost forty years in the USA I’m not an American citizen. It’s tough living in a country you love, being a political junkie, and not being able to vote. On Saturday a spritely voice on the telephone asked me to be a part of a Bring out the Vote drive for our local Congressman. He’s a Fermilab scientist, a small businessman, and has been endorsed by every newspaper in Illinois, both liberal and conservative. His opponent is against a woman’s right to choose, whether it be rape, incest or losing her life. He has one high-profile endorsement: Sarah Palin. You wouldn’t think our guy’s seat would be in danger, but this year, it is.
I told the sprite, “Sure. Sign me up.” And so it was today that I was handed a map, and a list of voters registered to the party but hadn’t voted recently. That’s the Bring Out the Vote thing.
We met at a sympathizer’s house, who’d donated her garage to the Get Out the Vote people. We got a spirited role play from the dude in charge, instruction on the best way to roll and insert a flyer into a front door so it doesn’t fly away, and were handed a map, some literature , and a list of registered voters who haven’t dropped into a polling station for a couple of election cycles
Our largest paper demographic lived in the Woods of Wayne. The WoW is a square mile of the most outta control upscale new housing development I’ve ever seen. Now, it avoids the McMansion slur — the mansions are set on large, gorgeously landscaped lots, every house is different, and I can’t believe that there are still enough people in this economy with the moolah to set up Hallowe’en trees, to sport lions on their brick gateposts, and to avoid the vulgarity of streetlights. (Wayne is horsey, by the way. A horse trailer snuggles up to the Porsche in the circular driveways.)
Then we crossed Smith Road, and not two hundred yards away were sixties split levels, rusty pickup trucks and guys in Goth teeshirts opening the doors — I think they borrowed them from their grandsons.
Here are a few observations:
1) Tha larger the house, the smaller the dog.
2)The pricier the neighborhood, the less likely the existence of streetlights.
3)Even the wrong side of Smith Street was poorly lit.
4) If a voter’s age is listed as fewer than twenty-five years, they’ve moved out of the house.
5)You can understand, talking to the parents, why their kid’s decision might have been a protest vote. Trust me.
6) It gets dark early in Illinois in November. What with the zero streetlights,half of your shift consists of backing up and trying to make out an address on a mailbox with your brights on.
7) New evidence to reinforce a cliche: Midwesterners, if you can find their houses, are polite.
The details were annoying. (“Is this 336 or 384? Where are the damn streetlights?) I’m shameless in asking strangers to do something that’s important to me — I’m never shy about this. I loved seeing a part of my county, close up, that I never knew existed. But you know, here’s the thing: even though I can’t vote, I could be part of the process. It makes me cheerful.