So, I went to vote in the Texas primary at midmorning. I didn’t early vote (new verb form around here), because I love to vote on election day itself, to see friends, even wait in line, feel the crazy excitement. My husband, who’d voted earlier, told me the lines weren’t too long — especially for Republicans. Evidently, a Republican official had called up and down the line, “Anybody a Republican?” But nobody was, in our West Austin neighborhood.
As I arrived at the school, I paused to talk with a woman about my own age — 50ish, to be imprecise and kind to myself — who stood outside the forbidden area wearing reading glasses and a big Hillary button. She said she’d never seen anything like the turnout today.
“It’s so great,” she said.
“I have to tell you,” I said, “that I’m voting for Obama.”
Jeez. It was like I had kicked her. Her face screwed up. “Are you sure?” she said. “Is there anything I can do to persuade you to vote for Hillary?”
Oh, hell, I thought. No — not unless you take back the whole South Carolina campaign and promise to muzzle Bill Clinton, who managed to remind me of why I was sick and tired of him by the time he left the White House (after pardoning everybody on God’s green earth).
“No,” I said. “Sorry.”
She shook her head sadly. “The first time in my lifetime,” she said, “that we have the opportunity to vote for a woman for president.”
And in my lifetime, too, I thought as I entered the front doors of the polling place. Inside, I waited in line and chatted with neighbors, including a friend whose wife is voting in the primary for Hillary, but going to caucus for Obama. (She’s the second person I know who’s doing this — just to let you know how conflicted so many of us are about this vote. But I can’t imagine canceling my own vote; I’m not quite that conflicted.)
I stared at the ballot for several seconds, then voted for Obama. I would say it felt like the most serious vote I’d ever cast, but the truth is, I feel that way every time I vote. Still, for once, my vote might count.
Then I left the polling place and said good-bye to the woman with the Hillary button, mentioning that I assumed we’d both be voting for the same candidate come November. She shook her head sadly again.
I walked back to my car, feeling downcast. That’s what happens when you feel that your vote, in particular, has driven a stake right in the heart of the feminist movement you’ve believed in and supported for years.