Living in Northern Virginia comes with fabulous perks. One of them is the proximity of Washington DC’s amazing and free museums. Living in Nothern Virginia comes with problems, as well. We are an ambitious lot, working far more than the so-called normal 40 hours a week, and using cars as weapons so that we can be the first to arrive, even if nobody’s there to congratulate us. It’s quite possible we take “winning” to unhealthy levels. Witness my experience this morning at my polling place.
This past weekend my husband and I took time to visit the Smithsonian’s recently reopened National Museum of American History. We marveled, as we have so many times, at the flag that flew over Ft.McHenry on the morning that Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem. The descendants of the fort’s commander donated this Star Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian when it was clear it needed to be preserved for all of us to enjoy. And judging by the people walking reverently by that window, this was a sacrifice worth making. After our visit I experienced, as I so often do in DC, warm appreciation for the country I live in and the many sacrifices that have been made to bring us to this moment in history.
Fast forward to today. Today Virginians are voting for a new governor, and the election’s an important one, as are all elections. I arrived at my polling place and was gratified that in an election the pundits have already called, so many people were in line. As I walked toward the door a man with a stack of ballots held one out and asked if I’d like to see the candidates endorsed by the Washington Post.
Inside, while I waited, I scanned the so-called Washington Post ballot. It was not, in fact, any such thing. It was, in fact, a ballot designed by a major party, with names checked off for those who were running under that sponsorship. Only one name had the notation Washington Post endorsed candidate.
The people around me told me that they, too, had been told this was a list of all those endorsed by the Post, and since our paper has cachet in this community, they’d planned to use it for a last minute consultation.
I did report my experience, but local election officials can not police what’s said as voters walk inside their polling place, not even lies designed to confuse them. Although we confronted the man, what are the chances he will stop trying to mislead voters today?
This week we’ve watched reports on the elections in Afghanistan, and we in the US have shaken our heads at perceived corruption. But truthfully? Corruption has many faces and nationalities. Political advertisements on all sides, designed not to inform voters but to enrage them. Facts twisted on major networks to entice viewers. Pundits who are far more interested in selling advertising than in telling the truth. Polling place volunteers who intentionally mislead prospective voters.
That flag at the National Museum of American History? That fine example of the flag that’s flown in every battle my ancestors ever fought for this nation? It deserves honesty, truth, and brotherhood among our political candidates and parties. Democrat, Republican, Independent. Let’s demand no less of any of them.