Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bake sale offers sneak peak into voter attitudes.

As I joined the ranks of countless PTA moms across this fine land of ours who were likewise employed in today's bake sales, I had plenty of time to ponder the election from an unusual vantage point. As I worried about coffee availability and if I'd put out the right items first, I saw people do things I would have never guessed they'd do if you had paid me to make such a guess. For example: as reported earlier, when I arrived at 5am to set up, there was already someone waiting in the parking lot to vote, even though the polls didn't open until 6am. By 5:30, the lines were longer than I could see the end of (and 2 districts vote at Moody). Since sleep is a precious commodity in my house (my 6-month-old hasn't caught a clue yet), I was amazed at the someones who were willing to be up extra early to get in line before work.

It quickly became obvious how unfamiliar some people were with the voting process: many didn't know which district they were in, or even who their state representatives was. More than one person asked me where to go, and when I tried to identify who the state representative was (to distinguish between District 4 or 5), several people rewarded me with blank stares or horrified gasps that I would think they knew enough about the political process to admit to knowing that information. I almost got the feeling that it's cool to be able to claim that you don't know anything about politics. Hmmmm...

I was also "schooled" on the dynamics of bake sale etiquette: I had tried to put out just muffins and breads for the morning rush, thinking I'd save the brownies and cookies for the lunch crowd. My co-chair suggested we should put the brownies out just in case, and wouldn't you know that the brownies flew off the table faster than anything! Who eats brownies for breakfast? OK - don't answer that.

Finally, I was touched by the number of people who donated $ just to do it (without any baked goods in return). Many people talked about the kids they had sent to Moody, or commented that the best part about Election Day was the bake sale. This last comment really struck me - we vote just to get goodies afterwards? Don't answer that either...

All in all, it was steadily crowded all day at Moody. I finally had a moment to vote at about 1pm, and I had no trouble with anything or anyone. I did a lot of watching during the day, and this is what I saw: I watched a bus from the senior home unload, I watched families with young children wait in line for their turn, and I watched professionals, all dressed up for work, eye the long lines and moan. Most importantly, I saw peace, order, and process. Sure, there will be voter fraud someplace, and there's a better than good chance that about 1/2 of us will be unhappy with tomorrow's results, but I still saw Americans exercising their obligation to their country. I did pick that word intentionally. Yes, we talk about the right to vote, which was hard won for many of us, but we don't so often talk about the obligation to vote. Democracy requires participation, and though we elect officials to do the "official" work of governing, we need to know the what, how, when and why they're doing what they're doing.

So, to everyone who supported the Moody PTA today, thanks. Thanks for voting, thanks for snacking, and thanks for getting involved. Don't wait until the next presidential election to repeat this behavior!

2 comments:

fishmuscle said...

The prices at the Moody School bake sale were universally half the prices at the Snow School PTA. For example, one of those miniature banana bread loaves was only $1 at Moody, and $2 at Snow. I don't know what to make of the lower prices in Westfield. Is it price gouging at Snow, or is Moody under-charging?

Jam said...

We weren't undercharging...just being sensitive to the current economic crisis!