Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Swing to the Right

C.K.-the-yogi knows that America, Illinois and Chicago get the politicians they deserve due to collective karma, and is not invested in the balloting process.

C.K.-the-female incarnation knows that The Man kept kept the vote from non-property owners, African Americans and women for as long as possible - which means it must have some value - and went to the polls today.

In the new neighborhood, the polling place is right across the street.

In the new neighborhood, there's no gauntlet of large, thuggish male electioneers in leather bomber jackets, "asking" you to vote for their candidate.

Apparently, it was even scarier to vote in the olden days, when the white male property owners pulled a giant, brightly-colored ballot out of the newspaper or picked it up at party headquarters, folded it up and put it under their arm and marched to the polling place. The color let people know who you were voting for (the secret ballot is a recent innovation). Oftentimes, voters got beat up before they made it to the ballot box, and some even died. Apparently, these thugs were hired by the parties to beat members of the opposition until they were too afraid to vote. And prior to paper ballots, these affluent white males got together to vote face-to-face, by tossing peas, pebbles or bullets into a hat.

Here's an excerpt from Jill Lepore's riveting New Yorker piece about this:

The word “ballot” comes from the Italian ballotta, or little ball, and a ballot often was a ball, or at least something ballish, like a pea or a pebble, or, not uncommonly, a bullet. Colonial Pennsylvanians commonly voted by tossing beans into a hat. Paper voting wasn’t meant to conceal anyone’s vote; it was just easier than counting beans. Our forebears considered casting a “secret ballot” cowardly, underhanded, and despicable; as one South Carolinian put it, voting secretly would “destroy that noble generous openness that is characteristick of an Englishman.”

You can listen to the piece here, or read the New Yorker version here.

And if you need a good laugh - and who doesn't, after this election? - check out Garry Meier's hilarious WGN-TV piece linking Halloween and the Chicago elections, here. It's well-worth clicking on the link.

No comments:

Post a Comment