It was a walk up a long, steep hill, but it was worth it. Last Saturday my wife and I voted. It had the feeling of accomplishment. The long, steep hill was also a symbol. Wearing masks, sucking breath in through fabric in the single nation hardest hit—this great rudderless ship—we went to say “enough.” The clearest indication of evil in the present administration (and here we’re starved for choices) is the open attempt to sabotage voting. Some GOPers are placing fake ballot boxes in public locations while the pretender-in-chief has encouraged his followers to vote twice and has tried to prevent his “fellow Americans” from having their legitimate say. Sometimes you have to climb a high hill, but the view from the top may just be worth all that effort.
We are a suffering nation. Not only have we become divided, that division has been stirred, and prodded, and poked by a man who knows the only way to win is to divide and conquer. Untie what used to be the United States for personal aggrandizement. Voting is more than a right, it’s an absolute duty. All who do it are patriots. In this we can be united. Perhaps a bit winded, stop to take a look at the trees on the hills showing their true colors. We woke up stuck in a nightmare four years ago. We’ve lost four years of our lives. We’ve climbed so many hills and sunk into dark, deep valleys. Does that flag look a little tattered to you?
Back in high school we all wondered how autocrats like Hitler and Mussolini came to power. We’ve watched it happen in a nation that was the avowed enemy of fascism within living memory. And for what? The right to wear red baseball caps that claim our nation wasn’t great to begin with? Great is not the same as perfect, to be sure. We were producing the technology (that is by definition “progressive”) that the world craved. We were ensuring the rights of all people. We were cleaning the environment. What within all of this isn’t great? How has it become better in these four misspent years of worry and weariness, bringing us to the brink of nuclear war without a thought of the incredible effort it took to build all of this. Or the effort it took to walk up this long, steep hill.
As the Republican war on democracy continues, I’m wondering about mail-in ballots. The good news is that I live in a state where such a thing is possible—there are just enough Democrats left to ensure that people can vote—but when you read of close races, particularly in Republican districts, disregarding mailed in ballots you have to wonder. A few weeks ago on national television Trump said that if everyone was allowed to vote Republicans would never be elected. It seems the alternative—cheating, that is—should be the game plan for retaining power. We tend to think of such things being employed by the many pseudo-democracies of the world. And I wonder who steps in to intervene when officials cheat.
Many world governments are dictatorships. The GOP would like that to be the case in the United States. Perpetual power where you don’t have to worry about women or African-Americans getting elected. It’s the rule not of law, but of complete and utter corruption. It’s rule that permits 100,000 people to die rather than being bothered to try to put safeguards into place. It’s rule that places the economy over the lives of those it’s supposed to benefit. No wonder it can’t be legitimately elected! Those of us who’ve been trained in morality, and who’ve even been schooled in it at work are told we should obey our leaders. Even if they wish to kill us, I suppose.
So I’m sitting here wondering if I’m throwing away our one chance to ousting such dangerous ideas from Washington if I send in my ballot by mail. The party in power has openly admitted that it cheats to win. On the other hand, there are plenty of sick people out there, particularly in these parts. Do I want to stand in line with them, hoping they’ll keep six feet away? Are you allowed to vote wearing a mask and gloves? Where is the Lone Ranger when you need him most? My grandmother had a saying, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?” I often wondered what it meant. Said when someone walked into a room just too late to help, it seems to imply that even a miracle worker does no good if s/he arrives too late. Even Moses wore a mask when he came down the mountain with his face all shiny. But then, he didn’t have to worry about those in power cheating, and the orders came, so they believed, directly from above.
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” begins the parable V for Vendetta before opening on a government not unlike our own. Fascist, built on hatred, an angry white man speaks for the few who worship nothing but power and call it God. Tomorrow is election day, and V can also stand for Vote. Two years ago our nation awoke in shock. Since that day we’ve seen hate crimes transform from illegal to commendable as Neo-Nazis are described as very fine people and those who actually do the labor for the nation have been disenfranchised so the uber-wealthy can have tax cuts. Violence isn’t the answer, but voting can be. As soon as the GOP sensed it might lose, it began voter suppression measures. They have never watched V.
The hope for any democracy rests in the volition to vote. We have to be willing to inconvenience ourselves to get to the polling station tomorrow for an outcome that will decide the fate of this nation. We’ve had “fake news” spewn out at every fact that is distasteful. Open, bald-faced lies backed up by sycophantic adoration of a non-charismatic hater—well, have you watched V for Vendetta? Graphic novels, it turns out, can indeed be prophetic. And since there are other nations out there that look to emulate the land of Amerigo Vespucci’s legacy. We have forgotten what it was like to be a colony. Instead we prefer following blind leaders—those who can’t understand that hateful words lead to hateful deeds. Those who can’t understand that a terrorist can be an elected official.
I’m describing V for Vendetta, of course. The coincidence of the Roman numeral five and the word “Vote,” however, hasn’t been lost on me. I’ve talked to those displeased with the results of election day two years ago who hadn’t gone to vote. What we see as V designs his intricate plan is that the will of the people still matters. But for your will to be known, you must use your voice; you must vote. Or be victims of our own system. We’ve had two years to see what damage can be done—a constitution treated as a napkin and due process subverted in order to ensure ill-gotten gain. Vivid colors have been used to stain this canvas. We don’t often receive a chance to correct imbalances but there’s a lot at stake this time. If you doubt me, at least watch V for Vendetta and remember that parables are, by definition, true.