Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Waiting ...

Forty-eight Novembers back, Malcolm sat through the Rathgar night, constantly hunting for AFN, the only live feed in those days, on swooshy AM.

A year later came T.H.White’s hagiographic The Making of the President 1960; and he was confirmed in his addiction. So, today he again reaches for that most-readable political book of all:
It was invisible, as always.

... at 8:30, several milllon had already voted across the country — in schools, libraries, churches, stores, post offices. These, too, were invisible, but it was certain that at this hour the vote was overwhelmingly Republican. On election day America is Republican until five or six in the evening. It is in the last few hours of the day that working people and their families vote, on their way home from work or after supper; it is then, at evening, that America goes Democratic if it goes Democratic at all. All of this is invisible, for it is the essence of the act that as it happens it is a mystery in which millions of people each fit one fragment of a total secret together, none of them knowing the shape of the whole.

What results from the fitting together of these secrets is, of course, the most awesome transfer of power in the world — the power to marshal and mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax and destroy, the power to create and the responsibility to do so, the power to guide and the responsibility to heal — all committed into the hands of one man. Heroes and philosophers, brave men and vile, have since Rome and Athens tried to make this particular manner of transfer of power work effectively; no people has succeeded at it better, or over a longer period of time, than the Americans. Yet as the transfer of this power takes place, there is nothing to be seen except an occasional line outside a church or a school, or a file of people fidgeting in the rain, waiting to enter the booths. No bands play on election day, no troops march, no guns are readied, no conspirators gather in secret headquarters. The noise and the blare, the bands and the screaming, the pageantry and the oratory of the long fall campaign, fade on election day. All the planning is over, all effort spent. Now the candidates must wait.
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yourcousin said...

"no guns are readied"

oh really?

yourcousin said...

But as an after thought I must hasten to add that the aforementioned book will be included in my next literary purchase.

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