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 has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. 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. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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