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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 30: Our Constitutional Sights

Kennedy v Ford!

Is the American version of democracy a viable system, or is a world where citizens love JFK more than Gerald Ford an utter travesty? YOU make the call!

Among our nineteen official annual road trips, we’ve had a few experiences in which we found ourselves falling short of our goals, not quite exploring our targeted locations to the fullest, and promising ourselves to keep them in mind in case we had time in the future to call do-over. Some of the cities and states we’ve visited are extremely unlikely to see us return, for better or worse. But we like the idea of arranging second chances where possible and merited.

Once upon a time, Philadelphia was supposed to be the center of our 2010 road trip. As I wrote in the present-day commentary for that particular travelogue:

Some of our road trips simply needed more days that what we allotted. We thought we’d learned that lesson on our 2005 drive to San Antonio, when we spent more time in the car than we did on foot in Texas, because their state is like a separate continent compared to home. Our trip to Philadelphia encountered similar issues but for a different reason. We’d found so many interesting sights to see near Philly that we barely left any time for the city itself…

This year we had a few different ideas what to do after leaving New Jersey and entering Pennsylvania. Two contenders rose above the rest: either head southeast for our introductory foray into the first state of Delaware, or go back to Philadelphia. We wouldn’t have time to venture too far into Delaware, but any attractive excuse to step foot inside its border would’ve been nice, if only to cross another state off our bucket lists. After a considerable amount of research on its nearest regions, our hypothetical Delaware to-do list looked like this:

1. Check out their capitol dome
2. Visit the gravesites of the exactly zero Presidents buried there
3. Reenact the “Hi! We’re in…Delaware” scene from Wayne’s World

…and that’s the story of why our next several chapters feature our grand return to Philadelphia. And what better way to dive into the original capital of the United States of America than to visit a giant museum dedicated to the Founding Fathers and some of their most important words that made America work?

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Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

I Voted!

Me as of 15 minutes ago.

(sung to the tune of the old “Meow Mix” commercial)

Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 9: Suffrage Central

RocSuffrage!

Walking in the footsteps of great women, but in our version one of them has a mysterious third arm.

In a modern era when political pundits are urging more loudly than ever that youngsters and apathetic layabouts ought to register to vote, and then actually get up off their butts and go vote at every possible opportunity, this year seemed like a good time for a bit of history and education about an era when the American government decided it was high time to basically double the size of the electorate and stop being stubborn pigs about their patriarchal chokehold on quote-unquote democracy. But first, one woman had to help convince them.

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Primaries Count as Voting, Too

Electiontrooper!

Free stickers: a cornerstone of our democracy.

It was that time again! The first Tuesday in May was once again the pre-Election Day dry run when Americans in many districts have the chance to vote in primaries to decide which candidates will move forward in our aggravatingly binary political system. Primaries tend to lure a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the votes that actual Election Day does, but in some local races, our votes are no less important. Basically, 90% of the population cedes quite a few decisions to the 10% of us who feel compelled to show up and take advantage of their inertia. Advantage: us.

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It Takes More Than Seven Minutes to Save America

I Voted! I Count!

Another year, another free sticker. Too bad I haven’t owned a Trapper Keeper for sticker displays since junior high.

Once again it’s Election Day here in America, the taut finale to one of the worst seasons our political showrunners have written for us to date. When I began typing this shortly after a new episode of Chopped Junior ended, Twitter was having itself a series of roiling meltdowns as everyone insisted on paying too much attention to the early returns even though some states won’t be finished tabulating or even voting for the next several hours. That’s setting aside any pending conflict resolutions or triple-overtime recounts for those neck-and-neck battleground states where the Big Two are finding their supposedly easy leads in the Presidential race thwarted by votes siphoned away by third-party candidates and repelled away by their own morally compromised candidates and constituents.

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Greetings and Regrets from the Indiana Primary Scene

Indiana Primary!

The pathway to my precinct’s voting HQ, marked along the way by glimmers of hope and dread.

Today I performed my civic duty as an Indiana voter and participated in our May 3rd primaries despite the options. My wife and I have differing political philosophies, but we were unanimous in our non-enthusiasm for any of the four remaining contenders going into our less-than-super Tuesday. Once upon a time, my wife could walk into any election headquarters, throw the straight-ticket lever, and be out the door before they could finish peeling her “I VOTED!” sticker off its backing paper. Not so much anymore.

Indiana’s voting laws are flexible enough that it doesn’t matter which party you normally identify with — for primaries you simply tell them which party’s ballot you want to use, then you’re off and running. No proof of allegiance, no mandatory party registration, no pop quiz, nothing. Despite that flexibility, Anne and I each deliberated much longer than usual in choosing between the Reality Star, the Clinton dynasty, the Televangelist, and Old Man Cloud-Yeller. And this is just the primaries. We have a lot of thinking to do between now and actual Election Day in November.

But of all the messages I’ve been sifting through on social media tonight in between The Flash live-tweets, one will stick with me longer than any other.

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