Voting Pen

This presidential campaign season is the sixth one I’ve lived through since reaching voting age. So far, I have chosen the winning candidate only twice—Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. My selections in 2000 and 2016 (Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, respectively) won the most votes, but for some reason that doesn’t ensure victory here in this supposed democracy. 

In 2004, I voted for John Kerry even though I assumed he would lose on account of having the charisma of a concrete barrier on the highway. At the time, I had an unfulfilling office job at a law firm. I sat next to a similarly underemployed peon we’ll call Matthew (not his real name). He was lean and dark and had an intense look and sharp cheekbones and a newfound sense of outrage at American imperialism. He was always quoting Noam Chomsky. 

Conversation wasn’t exactly a laugh riot, to be honest with you. But I’m crush-prone and, I mean, Matthew was right there. 

Needless to say, he became despondent over Kerry’s loss to incumbent George W. Bush, that incarnation of American imperialism in simian form. One of the legal secretaries—a Republican incapable of reading a room (or cubicle, as the case may be)—dropped by our workspace after the election to gloat over the victory of the incumbent, whom the secretary called “my Bushy.” She had a fondness for baby-talk diminutives that could fill you with rage even when it wasn’t the day after a dim-witted warmonger was granted four more years of dim-witted warmongering. 

I was of course dying for Matthew to say something like, Listen, nobody wants to hear about your triumphant, out-of-control Bushy. We all know your untamed Bushy can’t be contained.

But Matthew only glowered while I wished he had a sense of humor, and there you have our relationship dynamic in a nutshell. 

We lost touch after we both got other jobs, but I’d be willing to bet Matthew eventually became a supporter of Bernie Sanders. I couldn’t tell you what became of the legal secretary, but her Bushy has been let loose to grow artistically in Texas. 

I have already cast my ballot in the 2020 election. This year New York offered early voting for the first time in a presidential contest.

My husband, Frank, and I did our civic duty last Sunday at Columbia University’s Forum building at 125th St. and Broadway. We had to wait in line about 90 minutes. A poll worker told me to keep the pen she gave me to mark my ballot; pens aren’t being reused to avoid spreading germs. So if you need an incentive to participate in this supposed democracy, I can think of at least two: 1.) You get a say in the most important election of our time, and 2.) You get a free pen. 

I voted for Joe Biden because I believe he will govern with competence and compassion—qualities that have been missing from the White House for the last four years. 

The heartlessness of the Trump administration especially bothers me, far more than the habitual corruption and pathological lying. Trump’s indifference to lives lost to the coronavirus as well as to extrajudicial violence from police officers, along with his white supremacist attitudes and policies (such as, to take a wrenching example, the separation of children from their parents at the country’s southern border) should appall anyone with a functioning sense of right and wrong. 

“Some things are not forgivable,” as the moral philosopher Blanche DuBois puts it in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. “Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”

For that reason, and with hope that my political pronouncements are not diminished by having been preceded by pube jokes, I hereby endorse Joseph R. Biden, Jr., for the office of the presidency of the United States of America.

[If you haven’t already, please, for the love of God, VOTE by the end of Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. To find your polling location and learn your voting rights, visit]

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