As a combat veteran, I find it tragic that election day always falls just before Veterans Day. Every couple years, the nation waits breathlessly to see who will sit in Washington for them. Nobody seems to have any energy left a week later to remember those who sat in foxholes for them.
This election cycle has included enough religion-related bickering for a lifetime of elections — there was “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” Mormon bashing, continued ignorance of President Obama’s Christian faith, and Billy Graham’s surprising endorsement of Mitt Romney (orchestrated by son Franklin?). Even though much election rancor softens after election day, our deep divisions do not simply disappear on November 7. We may take down our yard signs, but we will still be divided.
Our assignment last week in my poetry class was to write a sonnet–English or Italian, our choice. But when it comes to sonnets, that, in many ways, is where the freedom seems to end. You can’t write as many lines as you want (has to be 14, of course). You can’t make it rhyme–or not–however you might like (must be abab, cdcd, efef, gg for the English kind). Line length is non-negotiable, too:five “feet” of “iambs” (unstressed syllables followed by stressed ones). Sonnets and the poets who write them take their metrics very, very seriously.
I got up before dawn today. (My farmer wife does this every day; I try, with mixed results, to keep her hours.) We got to the polls just as they were opening.
For the first time in the eight or nine times I’ve voted in Chicago, my name wasn’t on the list. I had my voter registration card with me, so nobody challenged my eligibility. But I did have to cast a provisional ballot, which might or might not eventually be counted.
Within the decided limits of a Hollywood blockbuster, Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln presents a nonheroic version of the 16th president. Though some iconic images are carefully polished—Lincoln as folksy storyteller and as lonely bearer of the ravages of war—the film focuses on Lincoln as wily politician, twisting arms and trading favors.