Worked the polling place in Leesburg this evening.
Easy gig. Folks roll up to vote, you shove a Democratic Sample Ballot under their noses. They take it, or they don't. They go inside to vote. They consult your Sample Ballot, or they don't.
The odd, unexpected thing was the joshing and camaraderie among the poll-workers on either side. These folks are friends and neighbors, and party affiliation is more a matter of unaccountable eccentricity than some angry passion. When I got there, the Dem activist I was relieving hugged everybody there, regardless of party affiliation, and went home. By the time my spell was over and my relief had arrived, I'd joined the Old House Owners' Club of Loudoun County, given a Republican poll-worker a recommendation for someone to do some restoration work on his house, and given another GOP worker my email address.
In this collegial atmosphere, any joking is immediately assumed to be friendly. One of the GOP workers asked, in a loud voice, how an intelligent fella like myself came to be associated with a bunch of rascals and good-for-nothings like the Dems. Unprepared for the question, I mumbled something lame about how my parents, good Minnesota Democrats, raised me right. But I filed the thing away, waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
It was a cold and windy evening, and the chill began to assert itself in my still-tender hip. I did some of the stretches that they taught me in my Physical Therapy sessions. One of the GOP guys asked me what I was doing, and I launched into my standard story: Osteonecrosis, hip replacement, yadda yadda. Then I expanded on it a bit: I'm so grateful, I said, to have been born when I was, when hip replacements are even possible. Imagine, I expounded, if I'd had this condition in, say, 1930, when I might have been the sole provider for a family of four, finding my hip going painfully south on me: How screwed would I have been then, with primitive medical science, no social security net, no health insurance, absolutely nothing standing between me and painful penury for my family?
Yeah, I guess you'd have been in pretty bad shape, said my interlocutor. Yeah, wow, that would have sucked.
I let a moment pass.
"And that," I said, "is why I'm a Democrat."
No thunderclaps resounded in the sky. Nobody fell to the ground, speaking in tongues. No battlefield conversions.
But I remain quietly proud of my zinger.
It has the added virtue of being absolutely, unarguably true. A humble thing, but mine own.