« Five More Years! Five More Years! | Main | Veterans »

Election Day

Not that today is the quadriennial choosing, or has a continent-wide shower of ballots, but that's no reason to stop a perfectly good tradition. And YHB always finds elections moving—the real work of democracy is done on the other days, but the elections are a lovely celebration and ritual, in addition to, you know, electing our legislators, our boards of education, our councilors and aldermen and selectmen, our comptrollers and our mayors and all the various elected functionaries of our government, so that then we can petition them, persuade them, listen to them and do all the rest of the year's work of democracy.

Election Day, November, 1884, by Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, Book XXXIV: Sands at Seventy.

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless prairies--nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes--nor Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name--the still small voice vibrating--America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board and inland--
Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify--while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.