Nov. 7th, 2006

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It's Election Day! If you haven't voted yet, I implore you stop reading and go do so. I care not what you're voting for, I wish only to see you participating. It's the only weapon we have against the (mostly) guys in charge.

For Election Day 2006, I've chosen a selection of poems about American democracy. I urge you to read them all, because they're all bloody brilliant, and all but one of them is short.

"Election Day" by William Carlos Williams provides a subtle reminder of the condition of our democracy. Don't let this discourage anyway, and resolve to fix it up in future elections.

"Election Day, November, 1884" by Walt Whitman was written in response to one of the most rancorous, negative, and bitterly contested elections in American history. Yes, even then they had perfected mudslinging to a cruel science. Despite the nature of that election, Whitman celebrates something larger than a single election, larger than the man who won: the power of the choosing itself. "While the heart pants, life glows" - a hopeful truth.

And finally, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda celebrates, during a visit to America, the democracy of rail-splitter Abraham Lincoln, and wishes for an awakening in our modern world. What's printed here is merely an excerpt from "Let The Rail Splitter Awake", but it's one of my all-time favorite pieces of poetry and well worth your time.

On Election Day 2006, "Let us think of the entire earth / and pound the table with love."

Election Day, by William Carlos Williams )

Election Day, November, 1884, by Walt Whitman )

An excerpt from Let The Rail Splitter Awake, by Pablo Neruda )


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