It is the day after the big election. In theory, the lawn signs
are expected to come down, the rhetoric is supposed to cool, and
this is when America takes a deep breath and tries to play nice
with each other once again.
But on the flip side, I am actually the Ghost of Election Day
Past. This essay was written the day before voting got
Media outlets and pundits have delighted in comparing the
results of this election to "The Day After." You remember
that movie, right? It was the really upsetting 1980s made-for-TV
special about nuclear holocaust and the end of civilization as we
But if you're reading this, apparently we made it through.
Nobody has radiation sickness. There was no mushroom cloud. We all
Elections definitely matter.
But so does civility.
I'm not talking schmaltzy, let's-all-sing-Kumbaya kind of
civility. I'm talking general civility. One must consider that
about half the nation is really pissed off right about now. And the
other half must resist the urge to gloat. It's time to remember
what we share as a people and as a community.
When I first moved to the southside of Chicago, I was not an
overtly political person. I had voted here and there, but remained
somewhat disinterested and skeptical. The old adage of Chicago
politics, "vote early and often," left me fearing the game was
fixed, and that my vote didn't really matter.
As my husband headed to the ballot box one fine November day, he
suggested that he'd watch the kids so I could walk to the polls
upon his return.
"I wasn't planning on voting," I advised. "Plus, I don't even
know who is running."
At that moment, my husband looked like he had been hit with a
nuclear warhead. He started mumbling some curse words. He shook his
head. He even took the Lord's name in vain.
And once he calmed down, he mustered up: "We live in the
19th Ward of Chicago, Marianne. WE VOTE."
Over the years, I have learned to take great pride in the fact
that the 19th Ward has some of the highest voter turnout
in the entire city, if not the nation. In 2011, almost 75 percent
of residents cast their ballots. And based on my conversations with
poll-watchers, there was hardly a dead person to be found.
Well maybe two.
The 19th Ward is one of those communities where the
subject of politics is discussed loudly, angrily, and with great
passion. You hear the battles at the school playground. Neighbors
dispute facts and figures at local pubs. Even as mass lets out,
fervid parishioners make their case to pew-mates after a quick
genuflection and dip in the Holy Water.
But the 19th Ward also pulls together like nothing
I've ever seen. Sickness, tragedy, and loss are rarely suffered
alone. It is the very reason my husband insisted we live in this
wonderful, though imperfect, neighborhood. You are never abandoned
should calamity strike. Nobody cares about your voting record when
the chips are down. Your tears are wiped, your soul is nourished,
and you are set back on your feet with great love and care.
That is the spirit of post-election life I am wishing for now.
We all want the best for our community and our families, and
putting aside the divisive nature of politics and elections is one
step in that direction. I want the best for our president, but I
can't wait to bid farewell to the Ghost of Election Day
Here's hoping the door doesn't hit him on the way out.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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