I almost convinced myself that I was seeing things as I parked the car outside my polling place at 7:02 yesterday morning. It was hard to say from my parking spot a block away, but I thought I saw crowds of people on the lawn of the senior citizens center. But it was no mirage–by the time I walked past the building, up the block and around the corner, nearly 10 minutes had passed.
And many more would tick by before I was handed my ballot, at approximately 9:10 a.m. The lines at my polling place averaged two hours all day, but the truth is that we were having fun. Although I had a book in my purse, I spent the time chatting with the older gentleman next to me about the difference in political climate between his generation and mine. People all around us were calling and texting friends and family in different parts of the city (one friend voted in five minutes flat!) and the nation (one sister voted in five minutes flat! The other stood in a line almost as long as mine.). A man in front of me told us about the memoir he is writing, and I played the inevitable six degrees of Birmingham game with the woman beside him. We also joked that the free coffee lines at Starbucks might be as long as the line we were already in–and besides, we weren’t that crazy about the ‘bucks, anyway.
The camraderie continued as I slid my ballot into the machine (voter 290 on that machine for the morning) and proudly adhered my “I voted” sticker to my jacket. I listened to reports on the voting experience from around the country as I drove to work, and when I stopped at my favorite coffee shop I cast a glance around for other “I voted” stickers.
And then my coffee buddy from my polling place walked in. We laughed at the coincidence–we live and vote 15 minutes from the shop where we stood–and laughed even harder as we stepped up to the register and our barista said, “Regular, meet regular.” As it happens, my new coffee friend works at one of my favorite places in town, and I interviewed one of her close friends for a story I wrote last year. Yes, politics can pull people apart, but sometimes election day brings us together in unexpected ways.
I love election day. It’s almost like a holiday to me (and I should have made good on my threat to take today off! It was hard to pull myself away from coverage last night.). After surveying friends for their picks, I compiled a playlist to accompany me through the day. Here’s the Derek Webb-heavy result, in no particular order–and I intend none of these songs as a partisan statement (I didn’t select all of them, and I don’t even know who many of the people who made these suggestions did vote for. Plus I’m not one to announce on a blog who I voted for.).
Election Day 2008
- Revolution 1–The Beatles
- Beautiful Day–U2
- Magnolia Mountain–Ryan Adams
- If A Song Could Be President–Over the Rhine
- King and a Kingdom–Derek Webb
- American Hearts–AA Bondy
- It’s the End of the World as We Know It–REM
- Political Scientist–Ryan Adams
- New Law–Derek Webb
- Election Day–Arcadia
- You Can’t Always Get What You Want–The Rolling Stones
- In God We Trust–Derek Webb
- Gone TIll November–Wyclef Jean
- I Shall Be Released–Wilco with Fleet Foxes
- I Hope–Dixie Chicks
- Love Is Not Against the Law–Derek Webb
- Either Way–Wilco
- A Love that’s Stronger than Our Fear–Derek Webb
Any other suggestions?