For All the Bad Hombres and Nasty Women: An Essay on Voting

Yesterday was opening day for early voting in North Carolina, where I live when I’m not in Oaxaca. The top priority for being here now was to change my voter registration to my new legal name of Norma Lee Schafer and to vote in this presidential election. I drove to Graham, North Carolina, the Alamance County seat of government, stood in line and cast my ballot. Done.

But not really. The politics of anger, bitterness, biting and back-biting, hurled insults and what it means to live in a democracy where voting is a right, a privilege and a responsibility are taking its toll on me. It was a sleepless night for me on October 20 as I reviewed the October 19 “debate” and its aftermath, what it means to have a clean election that is not rigged.

Vote Protector Volunteer. I see this as reassurance.

Vote Protector Volunteer. I see this as reassurance.

So, this is what is prompting me to write this essay about voting, elections, and the tone of discourse in the USA. To say I am disturbed is to minimize what is happening in our country. I know many of you join me.

To disrespect the electorate and the electoral process by a major party candidate who says he will not accept the election outcome unless he wins brings our democracy to a level I have never seen in my lifetime. Political analysts say it is without precedent.

Tell the African-Americans and Latinos in line with me at the Youth Services Building set up by the Alamance County Board of Elections that this is a rigged election. Tell all the traditional country born and bred southerners with teased blond hair or baseball caps standing with me in the hot afternoon sun that their vote is discounted unless a certain candidate wins.

Standing in line waiting to vote this year meant even more to me than usual. I feel proud to participate in a several hundred year process that is safe, respectful, honest and peaceful. Standing in line, I’m reminded that not many countries in the world offer this to their citizens.  I am reminded that many don’t vote in Mexico because they believe the elections are pre-determined.

I take this voting responsibility seriously. Especially this year when so much is at stake.

As I waited in line that continued to grow as the afternoon lengthened, neighbors and strangers exchanged greetings, smiled, held on to hands of children, tipped their hats for shade. I have no idea whether the kindly man behind me was Democrat or Republican and I didn’t ask as he helped me take off my jacket to use as a sun shield. We stood patiently, waiting our turn. Election officials told me they would not close the doors. Everyone in line at 5 p.m., however long it was, would vote.

In line, I felt this sense of urgency, of significance, of something extremely important happening in a small, rural North Carolina county seat.  I felt what I was about to do was important, very important for the future of this country and the world. I thought about poll taxes and voting rights, and the struggles for equality, legal and social, that each of us deserves. I thought about women’s right to vote and to choose, about borders and walls, about haves and have-nots.

I’m angry as I watch the national drama continue to unfold, unravel, and discharge the next epithet: Bad Hombres and Nasty Women. Political theatre has become the Theatre of the Absurd, and I wish for something better, more redemptive, something that will heal our differences and take us forward together.

And, I’m afraid of a post-election aftermath where we now tolerate personal attacks that turn from verbal to violent, led by a candidate who will not accept a process in which he has failed.

But, mostly, I urge all to vote, to make your voice heard through your ballot as we continue this important tradition of peaceful transfer of power, a tradition that makes democracy work and prevents anarchy.

From One Nasty Woman, Norma




36 responses to “For All the Bad Hombres and Nasty Women: An Essay on Voting

  1. My 23-year-old daughter in Carrboro voted early and proudly texted a photo of herself with her “I voted” sticker. I got a Florida absentee ballot electronically, filled it out, and went to the Consulate in Oaxaca to fax it in. My son is voting with his wife in Arizona. All of us, former New Yorkers, are now in swing states and feel the responsibility of voting particularly strongly this year. I even researched all the judge candidates on the ballot because it has become every more clear that all down ballot races matter!! Thanks for this forum!

  2. Thank you Norma Lee.
    Love and Respect,
    Marilyn Norma

  3. Mailed my ballot in two weeks ago hoping that I can help turn Texas purple if not blue. Another Nasty Woman!

  4. Hi Norma, I am so disturbed too! I heard This American Life on NPR today,
    and they spoke of how many people don’t trust fact based journalism. They think it’s partisan politics. Very Scary!
    I’m afraid we’re heading for a revolution and not the Bernie Sanders kind…

    • Yes, Lynn, it feels we are now more polarized than ever. Scary is fear of a downward spiral of civility and trust. News is filtered by political persuasion. It’s hard to know who and what to believe, but as Barack Obama says, we must have hope.

  5. Not sure why my comments are awaiting moderation!!….but hope you feel my support! Cheers from Jo

  6. I voted today too, in Santa Fe. I have US citizen friends born in Chile, South Africa, and England who say that we need to appreciate how lucky we are, how much stronger our democracy is than most others, and how important it is to do everything possible to protect it; it’s precious. Thank you, Norma, for talking about this election; it’s hard to talk about because it’s so ugly.
    p.s. I want to make a t-shirt that says “Another Nasty Woman for Hillary.”

  7. from one Nasty Norma to another, well said, thank you!

  8. You said it girl !!!
    May all nasty women and men unite … against Trump!!!
    He set himself up with that comment.
    Thanks, Normita,
    glad you hung in there,

  9. Watching and listening from Canada and encouraged to read your words….and hopeful that there are lots of people like you Norma!

  10. Before I left New Mexico a week ago to come to Oaxaca, I voted. It was the second day of early voting in NM, and my vote was number 711 in the ballot machine. That’s a lot of early voters, in a county where the total votes often number in the low thousands, coming out to make a statement about the privilege and responsibility of voting in a democracy. Thank you, Norma, for your eloquent essay. Here’s one nasty woman looking forward to seeing Madam President Nasty Woman be inaugurated.

    • Hi, Winn, thank you! I will miss you in Oaxaca for muertos and know you will have a great time. Nasty Woman is so perfect for the metaphor of standing tall, rising above and strength. When I was in Asheville, NC earlier in the year, I saw an acronym I also loved: HBIC. Head Bitch in Charge. I wasn’t sure it was possible then. I’m hoping sanity will prevail now and we can experience this historic moment in our nation’s history, breaking the highest glass ceiling.

  11. Hi Norma,
    Although we are still in Seattle we were able to vote last week because we get an early ballot since we are often out of the country for elections. In Washington essentially all voting is done by mail. It felt good to sit in our home and vote.

    Allison has been working hard to get people registered so they can vote.
    More voters were registered in Seattle one day recently than ever had been before in a single day. I can’t imagine anyone not voting, especially in a race like this one.
    We hope for a peaceful,welcome to our first Woman President.

    Warmest regards,
    Jo Ann and Tom

  12. Well said Norma! When we don’t vote, we are not exercising our right as Americans to lend our voice to the political process. We need never take this for granted. Thank you for sharing your voice.

  13. Hear, hear. I want everybody to get out and vote. The peaceful transition of power is one of the things that makes this a great nation.

  14. Norma,
    I thank you for writing words that pull my heart-felt thoughts to the surface. To put succinctly the issue of freedom to vote..yes freedom. I have voted in ever election since I turned 21, back when I was 21 that was the legal voting age. I took my children to the voting booth with me and now, they as adults never miss an opportunity to participate in voting, and my grandchildren are having wonderful, open and exploring conversations with me about this nation, the world, and local politics. How grateful I am for freedom.
    My ballot, completed, goes into the county mailbox tomorrow.

  15. Nice going, nasty woman… from one bad hombre!

  16. Good to read this. I voted last week in Toronto, on a California absentee ballot, and the postal worker assured me he would both put adequate postage and date-stamp it. He did not ask whom I voted for, but wondered if I were “voting against someone or for someone?” I said both.
    Another Nasty Woman,

    Kate Rayner

  17. Beautifully written, Norma. My friends and I have been in turmoil these last months, first worrying that Trump might win, then because of his disgraceful, disparaging tweets and comments, then his ongoing degrading language toward women, and now his threat not to accept the election results, convincing Americans that the election most likely is rigged. All so divisive and destabilizing.

    Happy to say I voted by Florida absentee ballot. Fingers crossed that Hillary wins and that she wins by a landslide!

    Thanks again for your essay, Norma.

    • Elaina, we both live/vote in swing states where the electoral process takes on even more importance. Each person who votes gives legitimacy to the meaning of what it takes to live responsibly in a democracy. If we don’t vote, we give up our voice. Yes, these are difficult times. I hope that after the election we see a turn for the greater good. Thanks for adding your comments. Best, Norma

  18. From one nasty woman to another thank you Norma for this well written and great encouragement to vote.. As we watched the last debate we were mentioning how disgusted we were to see how this campaign turned out, but also have concern about people showing up to vote!!!! We do not want people to be too “disgusted” to vote
    Great article thanks

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