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Posted by on Oct 23, 2008 in At TMV | 14 comments

Barr, McCain, Obama, I Voted Today. In The Fedora Tradition…


I voted today. Like my dad, Fedora-man, my ballot choices are secret. I’m an Independent, though I’ve belonged to each party in the past wanting to find out more.

That voting is private runs in my bones. In the old country people of my family, immigrants and refugees, this secrecy of vote was cherished in America… for back in the villages everyone knew everyone’s business
and those who had more, or less, often punished, exiled or denounced others for their opinions or principles… whether neighbors or armed invaders, of which there were far too many in Fedora-man’s lifetime.

Maybe you have a father, parents, grandparents like this too: Dad didn’t belong to any revolution; I cant point to his bona fides being any more than standing in his hot pepper garden, spading and hoeing and making sure the next season of cemetery flowers and tomatoes and corn and peaches for canning would nourish us through one more winter, supplemented by ice fishing and his brother’s hunting.

But there is a voting prayer he taught me, and I said it today before I voted:

Here in the Rockies, there are at least 12 proposals for amendments to the State Constitution, many of them veiled attempts at various, several straight forward, and then there are choices for reappointments of more than a dozen judges, and though there are at least nine persons offered for the Presidency, for me, three candidates are to choose from: Barr, McCain, Obama…

the voting pages are legal size paper, heavy stock, about 40# grade, printed on both sides, two pages… a long long ballot: it’s seems a little like a Village Inn food menu… and Fedora-man’s prayer today was carried into a time when he no longer lives on earth but some of what he lived is still in his daughter fully alive…

Just this: Help me vote for the souls who can do the most to help those who suffer most.

I used a black ball point pen. It was raining as I sat in the truck marking my choices; this but not that, this one, but not that one, so 50-50 on these two, and others, but the Fedora-man prayer helped decide.

It was dark when I was done, and cold, below freezing. The white frost was coming onto all the towering blue spruces and dark Douglas firs and scraggly junipers all around. I put the pages in the big envelope, signed my name exactly as it is on my voting card to make extra sure my vote will be counted… and overall, I thought only this then in the dark with the truck running and the headlights streaming yellow in the rain…

I trust my vote to count. I trust it will be counted. I trust I will be somewhere in the enormous final tally; that the woman in the truck in the rain has a voice, a small one, but a voice ‘in matters that Matter.’ That I take it on faith. Just like my dad, maybe just like your dad, your parents, your grandparents too… just like Fedora-man.

10/22/08 Midnight

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • Thank you for sharing this, dr. e.

  • I think in the future, I won’t tell folks who I voted for. But maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Thanks for sharing this also, Dr. E.

  • archangel

    dear T_Steel
    I very much liked your article about voting, the lines running back to your parents and grandparents and how they made their courage bones. We each have our own way T, and I think the cohesive thing is to express it; that’s where the generational bones often show, just like an xray into the stories that support a person’s life.

    hang in there,

  • archangel

    Dear Jillmz:Thanks Jillzie: I’ think/hope most of the TMV writers will likely write about how the voting went for them, in whatever way. Lead us to yours.
    I’m patient to a point. I’ll wait…you know, fingers tapping… come on… lol


  • river

    Nice to have you back Dr. E. . . .

    a while back heard a program on NPR about cultural differences for immigrants from Northern Europe. . .the man interviewed said, exactly the same thing as you about not speaking about political affiliations or how one votes. . . he said it was one of the more difficult things to adjust to here in the States. . .then went on to add in Northern Europe people would meet one another for the first time and ask about family and children. . .but when he did ask about family and children in America. . .he soon found people would react with suspicion and fear. . . i like it when people don’t share who they voted for. . .sign of substance. . .i think. . .

    May God and Mother Mary continue to enfold you during this time of sorrow. . .sending you and your family prayers. . . comfort. . .peace. . .and heartfullness. . .

  • spirasol

    I filled out my heavy stock absentee ballot………marveling at first at the many choices. Yes all along it has been about who can do the most for the ones who need it most. AND of coarse who is in a position to be elected to do so. Seems in big town USA there is really only one horse to bet on, though s(he) cometh in two colors. I would love to vote for Cynthia or Barr; they are so much more comfortable with the truth. In the end though there is only the white horse and the black horse (NO racial overtones intended). For me there is still a choice, though a reluctant one. I did my duty, mailed it off same day I got it, and then………back to the chores. No cause for celebration if my choice wins, thoughI think many will suffer if the other choice wins.

  • archangel

    dear river, Your comment about asking about chldren and family and old people is very funny and accurate. In the family it was bewildering, still is, that sometimes others dont realize that’s considered highest courtliness to ask extensively after each family member of the other person… and to not rush or ‘get down to business’ until that was all covered.

    thank you for remembering my family by calling by names for us to ever remember . Will put it to good use. Promise.


  • archangel

    dear spirasol; i’d not expect anything less of your broad sight… I’d join you in hoping … that whomever is elected for President will be guided well, and decently helped as much as possible to effectively manage all that is before us. Let it be a prayer.

    hang in there,

  • Ghostdreams

    Good to see you back doc!
    I wish I could say the same.
    Technically I can, but in truth, I’ve had such a big mouth about who I prefer and who I detest that no one would even have to ask who I voted for.
    IF they did ask, it just means, they haven’t listened to a word I’ve said for almost a year (which is very possible considering how much I beat on poor dead horses).
    Perhaps they tuned me out? 😛
    If we weren’t in Iraq I would have been more reticent but in light of current events I felt this time around I should beat my drum a bit. I may have overdone it though. 🙁

    An aside on asking about family when meeting folks..
    Trivia: Did you know in Ancient Egypt when a major death occurred in a family and friends came around to express their concern…the first question they asked was:
    “How is the CAT DOING?” (like ..Is she eating ok?? Is she depressed?” hmmm)
    Cats were considered representatives of the Goddess Bast (and I think to an extent Sekhmet) and their welfare was taken very seriously.

    Just my two cents worth,

    PS It is a bit audacious of me to think that ANYTHING I have to say could sway a voter one way or the other, eh? I felt I had to try. blush heeh blush

  • archangel

    dear Ghostdreams: Thank you for your re-welcome GD. Appreciate it.

    I think political and other kinds of passion can be quiet or bold and all in between. I’d mostly be worried about people who have none whatsoever. That would Not be you, dear Ghostdreams.

    Thank you for the Egyptian glyph too. I was thinking as I was reading it that for the two souls in our family who have just passed, their cats had immediate reactions throughout and after, harbingers perhaps of what the rest of us thought and felt too.


  • Leebot

    I missed reading you Dr. P, but I hope you could sense my presence in your pocket during your absence. (Sorry about the melted chocolate.) Welcome back.

    You’ve always held your cards close to the vest about your preferences throughout this seemingly interminable election cycle. I use a similar prayer (and I’d like to fancy that I discerned from your prayer who you DID vote for — big grins). But you’ve given me much to think about. Your post during the primaries last spring about the need to unplug from the Perpetual Angst-Mongering was helpful for me, and now I am tempted to go buy myself a fedora to symbolize your words here. There is a sense of quiet and determined power in your decision to keep your vote private. (As an aside, there’s a fascinating New Yorker article about the history of the secret ballot:

    I realized too late that I should have been more protective of my own views, which I too freely entrusted to others. And here I add a second prayer adapted from a line in Pete Abel’s essay: before I voice an opinion, I will ask myself “what am I trying to accomplish?” I’m actually quite okay with the notion that my need to enlighten others with my opinion is vastly over-rated. 🙂

    What I do enjoy is respectful exchange of ideas, even debate, but there’s something about this campaign cycle that has become personal for so many, and sometimes one realize a bit too late that one’s debate partner (to borrow one of your metaphors, Dr. P) may be dancing with red shoes of rage. Most likely, the antidote is the same practice of disengagement that you advocated last spring.

    Deep breaths . . .

  • deb

    Hi Dr. E.,

    It’s good to see you posting again. 🙂

    When I was younger, I felt that who one voted for should be kept secret, just as I believed many other things should be secret. But, this time, I think my sentiments are clear.

    I have not yet voted, even thought I was willing to be a part of the wave of early voters. It seems to me that so many people have voted early that there may not be long lines on election day after all.

    I wish you comfort in your recent loss of loved ones.

  • archangel

    dear Leebot, thank you, and yes. Melted chocolate… you are funny; you made me smile out loud. And yes, let’s all wear fedoras. My dad has passed but I still have all his hats from the decades he lived, I think I have a short brim that guys wore in the 60s, his tweed porkpie he wore in old age, some slouch hats from his ‘stylin’ years, and definitely his fedora. And a straw hat too. God bless the grandfathers, fathers, uncles and brothers.

    I like your thoughtfulness of conduct for yourself in the world.


  • archangel

    Dear deb, nice to see you commenting again too! I think we all find our own way to hold our political semiphors,,, if I could use that as apt metaphor. I think most ways are alright. It’s just the constant ramming of vessels both large and small during this election cycle that I think has been hard on a good many relationships…. amongst people who know one another, but also amongst strangers… say, online for instance.

    But, I think, regardless of which persons are elected, many of us will go back and start mending any nets within our reach. I think it will be useful and perhaps also much needed.

    your observation about all the early voters is poignant to me too, deb. I am a little amazed that what used to be a collective day of priviledge and duty at the polling place in our neighborhoods, one of the few times a year where we’d see a lot of our neighbors all in one place and chit chat and tell stories of the kids and old folks and current health challenges and prides and honors and such…. has sort of morphed into voting without contact with other human beings.

    I think we might be the poorer for it, even though this year, I also filled out a paper ballot and mailed it in. I thought about that beforehand, and had my family situation not been so harried, I definitely would have gone to the polling place (church/school) to vote so I could just ‘communitize’ with others.

    Thank you very much for your wish of comfort; I will put your blessing to good use. Promise.


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