Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I never win lotteries or prizes; but today I won a minor one in the great lottery of life. When I got to the polling place there was a long line of H to R people and a moderate line of S to Z people; but there was only a short line of A to G people; so I got in and out within a half hour or so.

Best of all, I was just behind Bob Brant in line, so I got to chat with him a bit. Bob was there as a civilian, simply voting today; but I've seen him at the polling place every couple of years for twenty or more years because he's been the Republican Committeeman for our district all that time.

And then, after I had my little voting chit, I ran into Bud Templeton on my way to the voting machines. Bud was there as the Republican poll observer. I've seen Bud less frequently because he has moved from polling place to polling place over the years. Bud graciously welcomed me to Upper Providence when we moved here thirty years ago. He made sure we got registered, and then he made sure for the first few elections that we knew where our polling place was if it moved in those days before we had a good sense of the township.

Few of us adequately appreciate the part-time work done by guys like Bob and Bud, and their counterparts on the Demoncrat party side. Behind the scenes at every election, and between elections, there are patient party people on both sides getting people registered, explaining the voting process, calling to remind "their" voters of important local issues, organizing the polling places, watching over one another like hawks to keep the process honest, and generally making the whole system work. Without literally hundreds of thousands of people like Bob and Bud in tens of thousands of local voting precincts across the country our elections wouldn't work, or worse they wouldn't be sufficiently trustworthy to keep us all content with the outcomes.

And we do have a magnificent system bequeathed to us by those bewigged characters who designed it and got it started against all odd a couple of hundred years ago. It's the best such system in the world by far, even if it's unappreciated by most of us who have lived within it all our lives.

Back in 1992, a local legend named Clay Hess put it in perspective for me. He was old school, really old school, perhaps eighty years old in 1992. He was a farmer and an auctioneer, born in the township. Clay told stories of the time when local farmers graded the gravel roads adjoining their farms, before the roads were paved. He told of grading those roads with a horse team. By the time I knew him he was the local Republican Party chairman, and as partisan as anyone, but he also retained a healthy perspective.

You may have noticed that I'm not a big fan of Barack Obama. If so, you've had only the merest glimpse of how much I was not a fan of Bill Clinton back in 1992 when I was only 18 years out of the Navy and he was infamous for his Vietnam era statement that he "loathed the military." I was writing an opinion column for a local paper leading up to the 1992 election, and I was hot. So hot that I can't begin to count the number of columns I started and then tore up before the election because they went over the line.

Well, on election day in 1992 I made the rounds of the local polling places to write up a news story for the paper; and in the process I ran into Clay Hess up at the old Township Building. Despite his age Clay was aware of just about everything that went on locally; and he was certainly aware that I was hot about Clinton, although as a political tactic he always professed obliviousness to what appeared in the local papers. Anyway, Clay caught me aside and reminded me that no matter how the election turned out I needed to keep it in perspective relative to a very important fact.

"Sully," he said (I'm paraphrasing), "the important thing is that people are peacefully going to the polls and selecting the next president. I don't have much respect for Clinton either; but if he wins he will be our president. Having everybody respect a system that peacefully turns over power is precious. A whole lot of countries in the world wish they had such a system."

A very wise man, Clay Hess. That was one election; and this is one election. Win or lose, we all need to remember that in our constitutional system we have a priceless gift.

Update: 80 81 87 78 79 ;<)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, sir.