It's people meeting at one house in the neighborhood at 9:00AM on a Saturday morning to pass out literature. The smell of coffee from one of those 30 cup stainless towers. A plate of coffee cake cut in 2 inch squares. It's pulling your scarf up over your mouth and snugging on a hat and gloves because the morning frost has finally caught up with the calendar. It's talking to your neighbors about the polls, the rumors, the fact that the republican party has paid for a first class mailing, a glossy, four color smear campaign (all untrue) and robo calls, over $20,000 for a measly, supposedly non-partisan city council seat in a mid-sized suburb. Why? Whose corporate interests are they protecting this time? Is it the SOB (son of a big shot) who is trying to overdevelop the neighborhood? Are they planning to develop the wild lagoon wetlands again? This council seat only pays a few thousand a year; who in their right minds would spend that kind of money on such a campaign?
It's shaking your head and reaching for a stack of literature and a list of addresses to hit the streets. It's mentioning that you will be out of town for the election and having your neighbors take the literature out of your hand and telling you to get your number 2 pencil to the board of elections and vote early because (new policy) they are open on Saturday for early voters and this election is SO small that every vote, every single pencil mark, counts. There will always be more little guys than big guys in this country, but we have to make our marks.
And the best part about voting early, we actually were able to make a mark on a paper rather than a touch screen that swallows votes and doesn't spit them out again, which is an whole other issue.
Too many of us are inclined to complain about a loss of democratic rights and not actively involved in the democratic rites -- like standing on street corners and passing out literature, trying to engage neighbors in real conversation. I'm just as bad. I'm spotty in my involvement in this mud-wrestling match called democracy. But every time I put myself up out of my chair and away from my computer and TV where pundits shout their opinions, every time I get around to expressing mine by jumping into the process, this time only by showing up at my neighbor's house to be sent away to vote early, I am grateful for the experience. It all seems so reasonable. It makes me hopeful.
Neighbors actually talking to one another. It's a great concept.