I laid out a tentative game plan to the little guy: walk the dog, have breakfast, then vote.
We at least got the first thing done. I was approached by a lady at the dog park about signing a petition recalling District B Councilwoman Stacy Head for, among many other things, the fact that she "(v)oted to tear down public housing and cruelly made fun of the people who fought to defend public housing." There were many "Recall Stacy Head" signs on the neutral grounds as well when I drove around later in the day. I wonder how many signatures were acquired...
When we brought our dog back home, the little guy saw that the girls next door were outside and he really wanted to go over to their house and play. Their daddy told us they were all heading over to vote and we'd probably see them there. Instant change in plans: "We're going over to vote now, right, Mom?" Ooookay, kiddo.
As I turned around to lock the door after the dog, my son looked at me and said, "Mom, are you voting for Barack Obama? I like Barack Obama!"
Floored me, I tell you.
No, we haven't been serious Obamaniks all this time. Dan and I, quite honestly, have been a bit too cynical to really believe that this man could get so, so far - up to the third presidential debate, we just didn't allow ourselves to hope too much. Dan was having some nasty flashbacks of the 2000 elections and wasn't putting it past the GOP to try some sort of thwarting of the democratic process. And, really, anybody going into the Oval Office come January is gonna have one very, very hard row to hoe for the next four years. Anybody who refuses to acknowledge that is truly fooling themselves.
But to turn around and find that my five-year-old son had, in some way, absorbed the importance of this day was humbling. Even if, in the same breath, he began talking about how the imaginary mice he includes in his stories were holding a presidential election of their own today. He must have absorbed that from this book...
The wait wasn't long at our polling place, and my son and I stepped into the booth. He stood there beside me, taking in this civic action of pushing buttons on this curtained machine and having the touch of a fingertip help determine who would become our leader. This was not something to be taken lightly, this task: the man in front of me accidentally walked into a booth that hadn't been cleared of the previous voter's choices, and walked back out immediately with a slightly mischievous grin and a crack about that person's vote going down the drain. Don't revel in that, idiot, I wanted to say, but I had my son there. Not a time for name-calling, but name-choosing.
We pushed the "Cast Vote" button together, his growing finger next to my thirtysomething one, and walked out. He didn't even mind that the girls' school's playground was roped off so he couldn't play on it. He'd overheard there were possible free doughnuts for the taking, so we headed to the Krispy Kreme.
And, even though we live in a Ruby Red grapefruit juice state, I can tell my son he was still a part of history (Thanks, Mominem!):
Presidential Election Returns for New Orleans
116,042; 79.32%; Democratic Party, Barack Obama, Joe Biden
989; .68%; Green Party, Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente
28,041; 19.17%; Republican Party, John McCain, Sarah Palin
171; .12%; Constitution Party, Chuck Baldwin, Darrell Castle
395; .27%; Independent, Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez
572; .39%; Louisiana Taxpayers Party, "Ron" Paul, Barry Goldwater,Jr.
16; .01%; Prohibition, Gene Amondson, Leroy Pletten
23; .02%; Socialism and Liberation, Gloria La Riva, Eugene Puryear
38; .03%; Socialist Workers Party, James Harris, Alyson Kennedy