I voted on Tuesday in the Illinois primary. I picked up my car from the shop, stopped by the pet supply store for cat litter, drove to the polling place, picked up Kiddo from gymnastics, then went home and made dinner.
Voting was on my Tuesday to-do list.
I only knew a few of the names on the ballot, and I don’t have strong feelings about the water board or the county commissioner. Still, I went to the polling place and turned in a ballot.
I don’t think I voted for a midterm or any other non-Presidential election the whole time I lived in California, from 2007-2016. The outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections gave me a false sense of achievement that bred complacency. Of course, what I now see–what everyone can see–is that the active participation of men and women in those elections for state legislatures and city councils and water boards during that period gave a definitive shape to a politics and a culture that was not irrelevant to the result of the 2016 Presidential election. My shock at the outcome was hollow, because I’d been sitting on the sidelines for a decade.
The truth is that two, or perhaps even one, more pressing errand on Tuesday would have kept me from voting again. The whole experience felt perfunctory and annoying, like mailing a package at the post office, with a much shorter wait. But where did I get the idea that participating in democracy was dramatic? From CNN, probably.
Maybe if we don’t spend time on the boring bits of democracy, we shouldn’t complain when the dramatic parts don’t go our way.