Well, I voted, but I can’t save the country by myself, so get out there! (I’d briefly considered moving to Ohio so that my vote might actually count, but I was too busy and forgot.)
This morning I’m reminded of another election years ago, a far less important one – except, that was, for at least one person. It was the race for student government at my high school, and one of the candidates was this kid Robbie Lewis (not his real name, which was actually Jeffrey DePina, so I wonder why I just did that). Robbie was what used to be referred to as a Special Ed student, though by now the terminology has undoubtedly been changed to Differently Needed or Talented-in-Reverse or some such nonsense. Anyway, I remember his campaign’s being unprecedented at this rather large school, and that there was much nervousness among faculty and staff: kids, as you may have heard, can be cruel.
The Morning of the Speeches came, and we were packed into the auditorium to endure them. One by one, the popular kids approached the podium and said various, senseless things; their friends duly and enthusiastically applauded. Then Robbie was escorted to the stage, and gave his address (not literally, but come on: that would’ve been funny). I can’t recall a word of it, though it’s safe to say it probably included a joke about abolishing math and perhaps something about unicorns. But when Robbie concluded his remarks, he was greeted with a deafening standing ovation the likes of which I’ve witnessed only at…well, every Broadway show I’ve ever been to, though this one was actually deserved. I’ve forgotten whether or not he was elected; I do remember the day we all made a huge impact on that kid’s life, and that for once I wasn’t ashamed to attend my school, or to be from that town, or y’know, walk the earth (hey, it’s a difficult age).
Today I showed up early to vote, and the volunteers were already worn out. (As one staffer of Middle Eastern descent remarked to me, “The people in this country they don’t like to stand in line not to vote not for coffee not nothing.” Still, he was smiling when he said it, because he knows as well as I do that it’s a privilege. So knock it off.) I like living in a place where I can be deluded into thinking my voice can make a difference – though after all, I work in the theatre, so I know better. Except that every once in a while, against all odds and in unexpected ways, it actually does.