Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Off-Year Election Day
A sticker? What are the activities where they give you a sticker upon completion? Cleaning your room? If you're under the age of 8, that is, or other chores? Doing the dishes. Picking up your room. The sticker affixed to the charts that organized parents create to try to instill some kind of personal responsibility in their children.
We didn't do those for those boys. It seemed beneath the dignity of a child.
What else? A well-done paper, again in elementary school. The proverbial gold star. Or a smiley face. I haven't done a survey, but my guess is that by middle school stickers are gone or ironic, the flourish of those teachers who instruct with a smirk of self-knowledge.
And voting. I already felt silly, heading over to early voting at the Northbrook Village Hall Monday. I had tried to read up on what was involved—be an informed voter! The Northbrook Tower, a surprisingly readable little weekly, took the effort to talk to the school board candidates. But there were three running for three openings. It seemed pointless to care.
"It's my right and I want to do it," I explained, slightly abashed, to the poll volunteer, who asked if I was the Neil Steinberg.
"Well, I'm a Neil Steinberg," I said. "There's another in Skokie. Sometimes he gets my mail."
For some reason that got me a provisional ballot. Something about my signature. Either way, I got to vote.
Turns out there were more candidate than positions for Oakton Community College Trustee. I voted for the Jewish names ("I ain't no freakin' monument to justice," as Nicholas Cage says in "Moonstruck").
The sticker was the icing on the cake. It couldn't have seemed more ridiculous had they given me a lollipop. Maybe the radicals are right. It's all a scam. The illusion of control, of democracy. Not meaningless, for sure—Donald Trump being elected over Hillary Clinton certainly had meaning. But some kind of joke nevertheless, one we participate in, yet aren't really in on. The joke is on us.
I wasn't too upset about the Mueller squib over the weekend because, frankly, the damage is done, and whether Mueller offered a laundry list of dead-to-rights criminal behaviors of Donald Trump, or the document as it stands—and we don't know what's in it, just the attorney generals' big thumbs up—hardly matters. The system groans under the offense being committed hourly against it. Will it hold? Is this the bottom or is there worse to come? Maybe this whole voting thing will be done away with, eventually, along with the free press, and we'll miss the ritual, symbolic though it might have been. The next meaningful election is a year from November. At least I hope it's meaningful. Either way, we get a sticker.