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Disenfranchised! This rather obscure anomaly seems to be the latest political malady about to beset us. Or some of us, depending on where we happen to live, whether our state opts for primary or caucus, open or closed, or any other myriad of rules, regs, and illusions.  This impending doom to the democratic process is being analyzed in a continual clatter of spinning media pundits, journalists, policy makers, campaign surrogates, and now, the candidates themselves. The candidates themselves, of course, employ the word depending on which side of a battlefield comparable to Custer's Last Stand one happens to be encamped on. I choose the word obscure in a somewhat facetious way as the meaning of 'disenfranchised' is quite clear in the Webster sense. But in today's political rhetoric, Webster accepted meaning is subject to the mood or method of the day.

Frankly, I find myself not only 'disenfranchised, but totally confused. I'm not totally clear on what bandwagon best suits my interests. I do most assuredly know that according to the experts, I don't even exist and that has to be even more of a dilemma than being disenfranchised! Allow me to place my burden upon the shoulders of Fabulously 40's public opinion. This being a site geared to the female gender may afford me some understanding.

First, I'm in trouble right out of the gate. I dwell in the sunshine of Florida which automatically makes me 'not count'. I can live with that, I didn't count in 2000 either. 2004 is still in debate. But, contrary to what you're hearing and reading in the media, and regardless of the chest-beating patriots who suddenly really care about all of us 'disenfranchised' Floridians who poured into the polls in record numbers, here's the rest of that story. You won't hear it from the pulpits.  

Florida democrats were well aware on January 29th that their vote wasn't going to count. The breaking of rules and subsequent signing of pledges to comply by the candidates was widely discussed. So why the huge turnout? Florida, a state ravaged with soaring insurance and property tax rates had on the ballot statewide, a proposed amendment to double the homestead exemption for property tax relief. That was the impetus for the record turnout. Still, it's like going to the store for a quart of milk; while you're there you might as well pick up a loaf of bread, so ballots were cast even though no campaigning took place here.

Now that I've clarified that a bit, back to my plight. I'm told by the powers that be that white women over fifty have made their stand throughout the nation. Their voices have been heard! Those that count anyway. They will not be moved from the trenches supporting the first woman candidate for the highest office of the land. I suppose we should be grateful that the tired clerk at the Seven-Eleven decided not to run.  

I've learned, too, that hard-working white people have spoken! Their stance on the unknown black man with questionable character and funny name, a weird pastor, and only a speech to his credit is simply no match for the expertise of a Clinton or even a McCain, their own questionable character and weird pastors aside! In addition, non-educated whites have made it known they'll stick to gun and God no matter what. So what if the white candidate is a staunch supporter of gun control laws! She knows how to shoot one and that's all that matters. The informative side to all this, I guess, is that I've learned that Appalachia speaks for the nation!

But, this morning I received the final blow. Seems those of the Jewish faith are a bit disgruntled with the young senator from Illinois as well. Their voices have been heard, too, according to the gurus behind the news desks. My best friend happens to be a lovely Jewish woman. I'll have to ask her about that. Maybe she can help me on my search to find a place to be franchised again.

You see, in my desperation, I sit and study with the 'math' guys, whose number 'rules' change daily, too. Their big maps with magic markers appearing in an array of colors, are able to break down into counties how everyone votes, and then they can tell me exactly what that means and who 'counts'. I suspect next they'll be able to use Doppler Radar and allow me to know how my neighbors down on the corner cast their ballot, or punched their ticket, or hung their chads. And won't THAT be a wonderful spoon for stirring the pot of diversity and dissent! The day may come when we can save fuel by not having to go overseas to fight a war. We can bring them home to our own neighborhoods.

I guess you see my plight now. Here I am, a white, hard-working, college-educated, Pantheistic woman over sixty, widowed, and living in Florida with the audacity to support the black man with the funny name and a speech. How much more disenfranchised can I get? According to CNN, MSNBC, the magic maps, the Washington Post and the New York Times, I don't even exist! Is there hope? An end to this madness? My goodness! The world is watching this comedy of errors.

Susan Haley, Author


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