LITTLE ROCK -- The thought occurred when I went to cast my ballot in Arkansas' primary: Election Day is a holiday, the best kind of holiday, the quiet kind. Mainly because for one blessed day the election itself seems to stop. There is a pause in the roaring flood of jabber and accusations and talking points and all the synthetic indignation and righteous counter-attacks and general blah-blah-blah that goes with the whole, all-too-democratic process.
Yes, there were still the robocalls and the forced smiles on the faces of those waving placards and banners across the street from the polling places, and the inevitable petition-gatherers waiting for the unwary voter. But they're all held at bay -- at least 100 feet away from the polls by law. In the polling station itself, peace and quiet reign. Neighbor greets neighbor regardless of how each is going to vote, which is nobody's business but their own.
If the apathy of the voters doesn't eventually kill democracy, it'll be the regular fits of apoplexy known as elections. But then, marking a blessed end to all the red-white-and-blue madness, or at least a time-out, comes this blessed day. It arrives like a pause between two storms, the campaign and the competing interpretations of the election results that night. On this one quiet day, citizens can finally cast their ballots in peace.
Election Day isn't just a holiday to some of us, it's an utter relief. And a reminder of what is important. May it long continue to unite and soothe. And just let us all breathe a spell in the quiet of the voting booth, alone with our conscience and an almost sacred sense of obligation.
God, I love this country! Not least for still having some respect for that primary right, the right to be left the heck alone. Especially on a golden spring day in Arkansas. What could be better?
Those with a taste for more dramatic scenes can have their Fourth of July fireworks or spread-eagle orations. I'll take simply exercising my rights, like the right to vote, over jawing about them any time.
Election Day is a kind of democratic communion, in which each citizen rises from his place in the congregation and goes forward to cast his ballot in secret. It's the most public and most private of our civic rites.