Whether you are Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal, Independent or Undecided, today you have a chance to stand up and be counted. This is a right and a privilege we often take for granted, and there are many countries around the world where this freedom is not possible.
Whether you believe your voice matters or not – and there are countless forces who want you to believe it does not – today is the day that you have an obligation to cast your ballot. Yes, I said obligation – for if you do not back up your opinions with action, you had better keep your mouth shut and accept the consequences.
Frankly, I’m underwhelmed at many of the choices; I cannot remember a time when so many people running for office seemed to be so functionally illiterate and thoroughly uneducated on the issues. In some of the national races there are certifiable nutjobs a breath away from winning state office. It’s frightening to think that some of these people could soon be in positions of power and influence. Politics is a dirty business; by preying on the sheep-like mentality of so many angry and disillusioned people, carnival barkers shouting shallow talking points have replaced true leaders with a viable design for change and improvement.
I used to wonder why we couldn’t even find two credible candidates to run for our nation’s highest office, but after watching people’s lives, families and reputations get disemboweled by the media and other invisible forces, I suspect many worthy potential candidates just figure it’s not worth the trade-off. So yeah, I’m cynical about what I have to choose from. And in some cases, it might be the lesser of two evils – the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t.
Ultimately the true call to action is to enter the fray yourself – throw your name in the hat, if not research and find someone you believe in and volunteer to help their efforts. It’s too late for today – aside from calling people to encourage them to get out and vote – but it might help the next time around.
There are some serious issues on the table like health care and gay rights and Social Security that will seriously regress if some of these puppets for shadow organizations take office. You don’t have to vote for somebody…you can vote against somebody.
I promised not to discuss politics on this site, and I won’t.
But I will say that the current climate of divisiveness in our system, the concept of holding votes hostage to blackmail for pork barrel items and the unabashed manic hyperbole being spewed out of people’s pieholes (as if it were fact) is all bordering on the absurd. It’s as if people don’t know what the words catastrophe, communism, socialism and freedom really mean. And certainly not the word privilege.
The subjects of the film Election Day do understand what privilege means. And it’s reaffirming to strip away the bullshit and the talking heads and the negative smear campaigns and the memorized talking points and take a good hard look at real people who understand how powerful four simple words can be: the right to vote.
I’m not tea-partying here. I’m just saying that sometimes you have to duck under all the flying crap and remind yourself what’s really important in life is not taking anything for granted. This documentary eschews party lines to focus upon eleven stories that fall far below the exploding tote boards and (yes) hologram correspondents that the competing networks try to dazzle us with on the big day. Dazzle. As if the speeches didn’t have that angle covered…
If there is a single thread that knits the 11 stories in Election Day together, it is that despite the cloud of uncertainty that challenges American electoral process, there is no shortage of people who truly understand the value of their right to vote. Documentary filmmaker Katy Chevigny skillfully juggles eleven storylines during Election Day 2004, following subjects from pre-dawn until after midnight. The result is a sobering look at how many individuals interpret the privilege of their right to vote. In fact, the subtle conclusion one can draw is that the more oppressed the individual is – or the greater the struggle – the more determined and inspired they are to make their voice heard in the process.
Without much fanfare we meet several people starting their day; a poll watcher assembling his staff at a coffee shop, remote farm workers getting an early start to the day so their 18-year-old can vote for the first time; parents of a sick child working opposites shifts at the same factory in an effort to stay afloat above unending medical bills. No one has to say ‘real America’ for you to understand that these are hard working people – Democrats, Republicans and independents – who might be skeptical about the system but understand that not participating is a far worse option.
Read my full review at PopMatters.