The Silence of the Voting Machines

Last night, Maria and I went with our favorite judicial candidate to a forum in North Dallas at Fretz Park Recreation Center. It was a joint meeting of North Dallas Democratic Woman, North Dallas Democrats, and other sponsoring groups. And there was a good turnout. Probably more than a hundred folks. Maybe even a hundred-and-fifty. Lots of candidates too. Especially those in the contested primaries.

During a break in the speakers, I stepped out for a minute and happened to peek in the windows of the room next door. There, lining the other side of a movable wall that separated that room from ours, was a row of voting machines…

I was struck by the metaphor of it. On one side of the wall, the free-speech part of democracy in its most basic form:
– Ordinary citizens turning out for a candidate’s forum, trying their best to be informed on the issues.
– Candidates, eager and bright-eyed (it’s still early in the season…), ready to talk about their ideas for bringing positive change to our society.

Meanwhile, waiting silently on the other side of the wall, and not really calling attention to themselves: voting machines. Just waiting quietly for someone to come and use them. Waiting for someone to make that democracy real. Waiting for someone to make it more than just words and slogans.

Early voting starts today in Dallas County.

You can find out information about the early voting locations here.

Here is the sample Republican ballot.

Here is the sample Democratic ballot.

As you might suspect, I have pretty strong preferences in this election that I trust I don’t have to repeat in this moment (OK, maybe I will). But more than anything else, even more than who wins and who loses, democracy stands or falls something along the lines of an old Woody Allen quote. Woody Allen once said “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.”

Well, maybe it’s just eighty-percent of life, but it’s one hundred percent of democracy. The truth is that our democracy does not stand or fall at the end of a gun, or through the power of a corporation, or even within the coalescing of interest groups and the running of political campaigns. The key moment for democracy –the moment it stands or falls– is through what does or does not take place in that room of that community center, and in a thousand other rooms in a thousand other centers just like it.
Democracy is about showing up.

It takes people, idealistic, passionate, patriotic, and perhaps even crazy enough to put themselves out there….to run for public office…to believe that perhaps they can answer the call to serve the people.
But it also takes all of you who come out and vote for or against them.

Do it today.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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