by Aneena Patel (SAR '17) and President of Kappa Delta Sorority Last winter,
This Year I’m Down With Voter Expression
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara–nor you, ye limitless prairies–nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite–nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones–nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes–nor Mississippi’s stream:
–This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name–the still small voice vibrating–America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen–the act itself the main, the quadrennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d-sea-board and inland-Texas to Maine–the Prairie States–Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West–the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling–(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity–welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
–Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify–while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.
Walt Whitman’s Election Day, November 1884
Okay, I’ll lay it out: I don’t believe that my vote for President of the States matters. No way there’s a lottery – that I might win – where my colored in circle makes me the king-maker for a day. I don’t think that scenario every existed – especially for people like me.
My annual read of W.E.B. Dubois and a recent column by Gail Collins has got me fired up. I’m not going for the bait this year – that my vote matters. Instead of a vote, I’m going for modish civic expression. I’m getting dressed nice; walking in up to the table with style; splurging on the coffee I drink while waiting on line; going to bring some good chit-chat to the people on line with me; and, filling in the circles without going outside the lines. If that’s not voter expression, then I don’t know what is.
I just hope they notice.