Saturday, September 25, 2004

A Political Patchwork

It's been an interesting exercise in the last 24 hours to publish one by one the names of every state in the entire United States with their voter registration deadlines.

I did it for the obvious reason -- to remind everyone in every state that the deadline is approaching, with some as soon as next weekend, but I did it for other reasons too, I'm finding.

I did it to "walk" very slowly through each state in my mind, in my memory, in my heart, as I remember friends and family in each place. I did it to remind myself of all the beauty and goodness of these places -- North Carolina and New York and Nevada -- just to name a few. And just listen to them. Chapel Hill, Niagra Falls, Las Vegas, all amazing places. I love this country and this slow laborious publishing is reminding me why.

It's also reminding me how we have gotten so heated in our debates and we need to remember that these states are all just places full of mostly good people. It's making me pause to remember the "united" part of the words "United States" and notice how "un-united" we are lately.

It's time we all noticed this and realize that exercising our right to vote and be partisan is all well and good, but remember too that the day after the election ... well, as I say that, I cringe to recall the day after the last presidential election, where no decision had been reached and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that, it made the fall of 2000 perfectly weird. And if we'd only known how surreal the fall of 2001 would feel.

Enough of that. As I publish each state name, I feel like I'm sewing together a patchwork of oddly shaped calico counties and tattered towns into something better. Give me Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten but don't forget I left my heart in San Francisco, and oh, yeah, Ooooooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain but did I mention, nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning?

I hope as I finish publishing the rest of the states this weekend, you'll get a chance to remember what you love about these 50 states and take the time to exercise your vote in November for one candidate, but also a vote for healing and unity for the next four years. We need it.