Why Kathleen Harris Belongs in Hell
As if I didn't already have enough proof of my geekiness, here's another little tidbit: I like to vote. No, scratch that. I love to vote. Oddly enough, I didn't vote until 2000, because that was the first election in which I felt that one of the candidates stood miles above the other. I felt like this election was a battle between good and evil (with a jester thrown in, if you count Ralph Nader). I wanted to be on the side of the angels.
By the time I got to the polling station, it was dark, and I wandered around, trying to find the entrance. I finally found an unlocked door around back. Lit by a single, unshaded lightbulb, it was completely deserted. As I slipped in, I imagined that I had joined the French underground. Voting felt dangerous, serious, meaningful. I was hooked.
The next year, I moved out to a more rural region. The polling station was in a church, and I was able to walk there. As I strolled down my street, past the brick houses and manicured lawns of my neighborhood, I felt like a productive member of my society. I felt moral, and useful, and decent. In short, I felt the exact same way that I used to feel when I was a little kid and I went to church.
When I discussed this feeling with my wife, she listed all the traditional criticisms of voting: my vote doesn't count, the candidates are all the same, nothing ever changes, and so forth. Still, when I talked her into voting with me, I think that she felt the same excitement that I did. Something important connected us to our country, our history, and our government. It was awe-inspiring and, in a way, religious.
I know that this all sounds excessive, and perhaps somewhat treacly, but before you reach for your insulin, let me finish. Given my deep appreciation for voting, I have a serious problem with anyone who interferes with the democratic process. For this reason, I hereby nominate Kathleen Harris for a hot seat in the eight circle of Hell, the spot reserved for false counselors. Her maneuvering against the hand-counting of ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential election was, frankly, criminal. More to the point, it was a betrayal of her position as the Florida Secretary of State, the people of Florida, and the Democratic process.
Lest it seem like I'm only targeting Republicans on this, it's worth noting that Democrat lawyers in the same election attempted to discount absentee ballots, which would probably have benefitted Bush. It's also worth noting that gerrymandering (or "creative redistricting," if you prefer) knows no political boundaries. The same goes for the Electoral College, which might have been useful in the 1800's, but now is about as outdated as bundling, tallow-rendering, and blacksmithery. Frankly, with crap like this going on, it's no wonder that my wife questioned the value of her vote.
Ultimately, electoral reform is not a party issue or a candidate issue. It is a democracy issue. If we want to convince people of the value of their votes, then we need to make those votes valuable.