The Peripatetic Vote

by tjmHolden

3 November 2008


So vote once, vote twice, for Bill McKay . . . you middle class honkees

—Robert Redford, as Bill McKay, in The Candidate

Does anyone even remember what a “honkee” is? Well, it was once a term of relevance in American political culture. And the fact that it no longer is, not only is inditia of a sea change of monumental proportion, but it is also a major reason why the United States is on the threshold of electing an African-American to be its leader. Moreover, it is the case that a majority of “honkees” are about to be the proximate cause in making this come to pass. Amazing. Historic. Significant—for the United States and, as no small consequence, the world.

I was recently reminded of Bill McKay’s memorable meltdown scene (you can find it at a little over 2 minutes into the clip below) from one of Hollywood’s greatest political flics, The Candidate:

What reminded me of the speech wasn’t the reference to racial division (and its impending obliteration later today), but the number of votes in question. You see, as any plugged-in peripatetic, zipping around in climes beyond my native borders, I sent away for an absentee ballot about 6 weeks ago to ensure that my vote got counted, that my voice—in such a historic election—would be heard.

The ballot arrived about 2 weeks later. No SNAFUs.

So far so good . . .


And, although the mailer that was sent me only had boxes to vote for President and congressional Representative, I dutifully filled in the squares, sealed it up with alacrity, and sent it off with a sense of accomplishment.

Good, patriotic, participatory peripatetic that I am.

And then . . . a week later


ballot arrived.

Oo . . . a moral dilema in my midst.

What to do, what to do?

Well, my inner angel and devil immediately fluttered up to take obtrusive roost on my respective shoulders, vying for attention, incessantly cooing advice about what I should do; uttering things like:


: “Go


! No one’ll know! Do it. Do it! Fill it in again.”


: “Now, Todd. If you send in another ballot it will probably invalidate your vote. You shouldn’t take the risk.”


: “Don’t listen to


! The election commission made a mistake, it’s




: “You know that voting more than once isn’t legal—and it isn’t right. Case closed.”


: “the only thing that should be closed is your


, sister! Now don’t sweat it, kid . . . this is the way some higher power planned it. Why question? Go on, send the second ballot off!”


: “Oh dear: why risk getting yourself in hot water? Do the right thing!”

Actually, I read about something similar occurring in Ohio, but in that case the voters appear to have been registered twice. In my case, it wasn’t multiple registration, this was my first oversea’s registration at this address. And then, thinking it through, it occurred to me that it was more than likely that what I had mailed off was my

sample ballot. You know, the one where they instruct you on how you will go about voting once the actual

ballot arrives.

Uh . . . yeah, he’s a . . . Ph.D.

Well, that led to another round of angel-devil banter; me, now having a justification for sending off the second ballot. After all, I didn’t get to vote for Prop 8—the abomination that I had so vociferously, publicly opposed in my last entry.

But, in the end, my better angel won out, as it always seems to. (So, if Prop 8 loses by 1 vote, you know who to come blame!)

(My better angel)

With election day upon us, it is too late for me to rectify my misstep—one cost of living overseas. But for you it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully, by the time you read this, you (at least those of you who are Americans, living in the U.S.), will have voted. And hopefully, if you have, you won’t have taken Bill McKay’s blathering backseat advice.

Although, with any hope you will have been activated by his inspirational lead.

There is a better way . . . right?

And—regardless of nationality or ideology or place in the world—it begins for all of us today.

Good luck to us all! After the past 8 years, we’ll need some.


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