Yesterday, in Milwaukee, people wearing homemade masks stood with their hands in their pockets, lined up six feet apart in the sun and then later in the rain, waited in lines that curved around city blocks, many of them for hours, so they could vote in a spring election. Due to the inability to get the usual enthusiastic cadre of volunteers to work the election, only five election sites were opened for the entire city instead of the usual 180 neighborhood locations.
The day before, our governor, a Democrat in a perpetual struggle with the Republican leadership of the legislature, issued an executive order to postpone the election, a move a dozen other governors have made. But the fix was in as the opposition ran first to the wildly partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, both of which agreed to meet virtually (so as to keep safe distance) to issue opinions that, no, the governor of Wisconsin could not delay the election due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And so, yes, if people hadn’t thought to get an absentee ballot, they’d have to go to the polls in person, pandemic or not.
And so, people went to vote. Young, old, disabled, black, white, they got up early, put on their plaid or polka-dot or Superman mask or wound a winter scarf around their face, and headed out to vote. It was, I tell you, the kind of scene that makes you want to sing “God Bless America,” all the verses, conjure up Rocky running up and down the polling place steps, set off fireworks. Cry.
I didn’t vote yesterday. I didn’t have to because I’d already voted by absentee ballot a few weeks ago. So I didn’t have to face the choice – go to vote, wearing my cheesy little white mask from Etsy with the excruciatingly tight elastic ear bands and pray no one coughs on me, or stay a non-voter, cozy at home next to my bottle of hand sanitizer and my beloved Clorox wipes?
The times call us to be brave. I’m stoic. I’m resourceful. I’m cheerful. But I’m not sure I’m brave. I haven’t had to be brave yet. But I look at those folks in line yesterday and think, yes, I want to be with those people. I want to be in that number. I want to be a brave person. But there is wanting and being – two different things.
More about Wisconsin’s election yesterday here.
WordPress Discover Prompt #8: Curve