VOTE!

Today November 8, 2005 is Election Day in Chapel Hill and many parts of North Carolina. We’re having odd year municipal elections for Mayor, Town Council, and School Board. It’s a non-partisan election with candidates and incumbent politicians who are mostly democrats.

So this morning I voted. Before I met Ruby and moved to Chapel Hill I voted, but I didn’t really believe in it. I didn’t think it made any difference. I just did it because I was taught that’s what you do. Then in the year two thousand I signed a petition to get Ralph Nader on the ballet in Virginia. Amazingly he made it on the ballot and that year I voted for him for president. It was a first big step towards multiparty election system (more than two serious political parties). More than anything it gave me a sense of hope that our electoral system can actually work sometimes.

In a so called Red State like North Carolina having two towns like Chapel Hill and Carrboro that are so politically liberal is an anomaly. [ We’ll except for Asheville 🙂 ] It’s amazing to me because I never imagined living so long in such a conservative state. After the hell that is conservative Virginia I vowed never to go back. No where else I’ve lived has fit me so well. Sure we have the Peoples Republic of Berkley, CA and big cities like NYC where just about anything is tolerated but these small southern towns represent me. Chapel Hill is very southern, intellectual, creative, liberal, radical, peaceful, and warm.

North Carolina is called RED because its people historically vote for Republicans to national offices like Senator and President. Aesthically speaking the fact that conservatives and their arch enemies – Socialist, Communist, and Anarchists – claim the color red is weird. It’s is especially odd to me, a graduate of a fine arts program and a very visually oriented person. What does this mean from a social physiological perspective? I’m getting side tracked…

Sadly elections in Chapel Hill and Carrboro are decided by a very small percentage of the people who live here. Elections are won and lost on tens to hundreds of votes. For a politician it is literally possible to shake the hand of every person who votes for you. This makes the races very much a personality contest. Surprised? The polls are open to everyone and people work hard to get everyone to vote, but still many people stay away. Unfortunately, I can understand this. If you don’t feel like voting helps or means anything you just don’t care to.

Now that I’ve been more exposed to local politics I vote with conviction. Local politicians in Chapel Hill and Carrboro actually represent a large part of my values and work very hard to create positive change. Some how these towns have cultivated an environment where we elect wonderful people. It’s certainly not “balanced” politically. It’s decidedly unbalanced. But that’s ok with me. It’s progressive, liberal, moderate, closet conservative, and left wing radical. It’s our oasis in a sea of neo-conservative politics. It’s a semi-autonomous zone of political freedom. I love living here and will vote to keep it progressive and free.