I’m Pagan and I Voted (Election Day Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 6, 2012 — 25 Comments

It’s election day here in the United States, and most Americans are glued to their news sources of choice to see who will guide this nation for the next four years. In addition, control of our Senate, and the outcome of several local ballot initiatives will decided this day, making for an exciting evening for those invested in our democratic republic. Many American Pagans, like every other group in this country, also find themselves deeply invested in our political process if my Facebook wall is any indicator, and so they should, as the very notions of democracy, of a republic, originated in pagan thought, in pre-Christian societies.  Thomas Jefferson, a key architect of America’s religious freedoms, was proud that our country, in principle, encompassed “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” 

So on this election day, as we wait for the results to roll in, let’s focus on some electoral/election stories of interest to, or involving, modern Pagans.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, shortly after voting this morning in Wisconsin.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, shortly after voting this morning in Wisconsin.

  • The ever-politically active Starhawk shares some final thoughts on the election, making her endorsements, but also stressing the importance of voting in general. Quote: “Still need inspiration?  Consider the sixty years women struggled to get the right to vote.  Think of those suffragists on hunger strike, force-fed through tubes, lying in rat-infested prisons—they want you to vote!  Think of the civil rights workers in the South, risking their lives to register voters, think of the three who were murdered in 1964, Shwerner, Chaney and Goodman.  They want you to vote!”
  • A Witch-Doctor from the Kenyan village where Barack Obama’s father is buried says his reading predicts our current president will win in a landslide. Quote: “Mr Dimo, who claims to be 105, says that the mystical items dispute news that the election will be a close call.  Pointing to a white shell, he declared: ‘Obama is very far ahead and is definitely going to win.’” I’m sure Nate Silver won’t argue too much with that prediction.
  • AlterNet digs up some rather embarrassing assertions from Republican Massachusetts State Senate candidate  Sandi Martinez, including how popular children’s shows of the 1980s will turn you towards Witchcraft. Quote: “On her cable access show in 2004, Martinez warned that trick-or-treating, Harry Potter books, and the “new age images” presented in 1980s-era programming such as “The Smurfs” and “The Care Bears” could destigmatize the occult and leave children vulnerable to the lure of witchcraft.” Awesome. Well, good thing there aren’t any Witches in Massachusetts … oh, wait.
  • An activist is trying to engage the Buddhist-derived mindfulness movement in politics, and voting. Quote: “If meditation can calm hyperactive kids, ease the pain of drug addicts and tame the egos of Fortune 500 CEOs, it can surely help a stressed-out and polarized country choose a president, says the Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams. An artist and veteran activist from Berkeley, Williams is the force behind MindfulVOTES, a nonpartisan campaign that she believes is the first attempt to mobilize mindfulness meditators.” Here’s the MindfulVOTES website.
  • It looks very likely that Tulsi Gabbard, the Democrat running for Congress in Hawaii’s 2nd district, will win her race and become the first Hindu to serve in the United States Congress. Quote: “It is clear that there needs to be a closer working relationship between the United States and India. How can we have a close relationship if decision-makers in Washington know very little, if anything, about the religious beliefs, values, and practices of India’s 800 million Hindus?” How exciting!
  • Meanwhile, you do know there’s a Heathen running for Congress this election, right? New York’s Dan Halloran, a conservative, Republican, Tea Party politician, is facing off against Grace Meng in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District. There hasn’t been too much non-partisan polling for this race, so each are holding up their internal polls to claim the race is will be won by their campaign. Odds are long for Halloran in this Democratic-leaning district, but who knows for sure? You can read my pretty extensive coverage of Dan Halloran here.
  • Let’s not forget the same sex marriage-related initiatives being voted on today, and the role “nones” might play in how those races turn out. However, Saumya Arya Haas, a Hindu and Vodou priestess, reminds us that nobodies vote on gay marriage should matter. Quote: “American is not a religion; it is a nation. We claim to hold certain truths to be self-evident. That means some truths should be a given — not debated, not voted on. Given. By virtue of being a citizen of this country, each American should have access to the same rights. Instead, we have created, in America, in the year 2012, a priestly caste of people who believe that their interpretation of certain Scriptures should be used to decide others’ fate.”
  • Americans United is fed up with the IRS not enforcing the ban on partisan endorsements from the pulpit, exclaiming “enforce the law already!” Quote: “This is a critically important issue for our democracy. We already have serious problems with vast amounts of money being dropped into campaigns. Imagine how much more devastating it would be if every house of worship jumped into elections, too.”
  • Finally, Jason Mankey over at Patheos reminds everyone that voting is “ours.” Quote: “Voting is one of the great legacies of ancient paganism. All democracies have a bit of classical paganism in their DNA, even when they don’t want to admit it. Want to make your Evangelical uncle’s head explode today? Remind him that democracy began in a town dedicated to the Goddess Athena! Democracy and the vote are our legacy as Pagans!”

No matter who you vote for, don’t forget to vote, and honor the struggles, and origins, of our political system. We’ll check in post-Election Day to what the results might mean for modern Pagans.

Oh, and yes, I already voted. Oregon has a mail-in system that’s quite convenient.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Elizabeth Rose

    Although we have vote by mail options, I confess, I love going to the polls and seeing other citizens participating directly in this Democracy we’ve got. My husband & I were chatting, as we stood in line, remembering, as kids, how our folks used to get dressed up to vote. This made me happy.

    • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

      I also like the excitement of going to the polls on election day (which I am about to do in a few minutes); I’m only disappointed that my friends’ all voted early so I’ll have no one to stand in line with.

  • PurplePagan

    Good job Ms Martinez wasn’t watching childrens’ TV in the UK in the 1970s. “Ace of Wands”. “Children of the Stones” and “Into the Labyrinth” would have freaked her out.

    Didn’t affect me, though… ;0)

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Children of the Stones is awesome (available on DVD, I believe).

      There was also that rather brilliant 1980s children’s show ‘Knightmare’.

  • Pitch313

    Vote. Maybe make a ritual of it. Stir up a little magic with it. And stay grounded in doing it. Pagan citizens at the polls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

    I went out to vote this morning. Met a Pagan friend working the polls that I hadn’t seen in years. It was a good experience.
    I would be thrilled if the IRS would enforce the tax law. We need to get churches out of the electoral process. They should not be allowed to threaten their parishioners with impunity.

    • AnantaAndroscoggin

      Unfortunately, that part of the law hasn’t been amended to account for budget cuts, as it says that a specific Regional official is the only one who can bring actions against 501(c)(3) organizations for such violations, and those positions were done away with some time ago and there’s no longer anybody with the authority under the law to bring such charges.

      Something to write our congress-critters about updating.

  • WitchDoctorJoe

    2 out of 2 Witch Doctors agree.

    My daughter turned eighteen last year so this was her first time voting, we all went as a family, another right of passage celebrated!

    BB, WDJoe

  • http://twitter.com/thelettuceman Marc

    I’m both thankful and sad that I am not in the district Halloran is running in. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support a single person from the Republican party (Registered Independent, not Democrat, and conservative-oriented). Until such a time as the Republican party ditches it’s anti-women, anti-gay, pro-Christian biases (thus, their blatant desire to erode and impede the civil rights of American citizens), I can’t support a single candidate from that party at any level. They all feed from the system, and receive support from it.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Don’t forget the marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballot in several states. Some are for medicinal cannabis, but others want to outright legalize the weed for adult recreational use. (Which, of course, would open it up for medicinal application, too.)
    I was anticipating a clash of voter challengers and anti-vote-suppression lawyers at my polling place. What I got was the usual nice people in my town voting. Two guys were at the back of the room holding up the wall. If they were poll watchers, I must say they were doing an excellent job of watching.
    My spam this season has been intense. On top of my daily Washington Post political-news-junkie alerts I’ve been getting emails from four national and state Democratic organizations, at least four environmental outfits, and some left-wing good-gov’t promoters. They all want money, of which I have none, or time, of which I would have plenty if I dared spend all day in an office whose illumination I cannot control (migraines), but the tenor of the emails is very consistent. Long story short (too late, I suppose) People for the American Way tells me voter challengers have been barred from polling places in Ohio (my state) and Pennsylvania. Nice to know the New Jim Crow has been kept out of OH this year. (The left has had to take the OH Secretary of State to court once or twice to block voter suppression from that direction.)

    Hail Columbia!

  • Charles Cosimano

    Voted. And when your evangelical friends talk about how they have to pray for their “rulers” remind them that in our country the people are the rulers and they should be praying for us.

  • Daniel SnowKestral

    Here’s for hoping WA State’s Gay Marriage Law, passed by Governer Gregiore and the Legislature, was supposed to become law as of June, but enough signatures were gathered to challenge it. So, here’s hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that Referendum 74, by the grace of the Gods, passes by popular vote!

    • Raksha

      The votes are in now and we’ve won marriage! :D

      • Pax

        Most importantly, we won it with the popular vote… the moral arc of the Universe is slowly being bent towards Justice and Equality…. and no longer will the enemies of Equality be able to spit their venom and so casually speak of activist law-makers and judges… The People are speaking…

  • Eddie

    At least half my neighborhood had to vote provisional, because our names weren’t on the roster.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Vote Pagan, for a new, kinder theocracy. ;)

    • Mia

      I know you’re joking (at least I hope you are), but I’d rather have no theocracy, since I don’t exactly fit any organized groups’ requirements. There’s nothing wrong with the religious specifications in the US Constitution, it’s the enforcement (or the lack thereof) that is the problem.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I am joking.

        I find that a lot of people dislike theocracy a lot more when they are not part of the theology in control.

        My (rather obtuse) point is that many people argue for a secular society, but really would rather live in a society that was representative (broadly) of their beliefs, including religious ones.

  • E

    Good post. :)

    It’s nice to hear what other Pagans think. This election has given me my first gray! It’s been going on too long. (*Sighs*)

    But I voted and hope that whatever happens it’s the best for this Nation.

    • Faoladh

      “This election has given me my first gray!”

      It took me a moment to realize what you meant. At first, I was thinking “first unit of radiation exposure?” or “first flying saucer occupant?”

      Anyway, that’s my observation, which may or may not be humorous.

  • BryonMorrigan

    …and the results of this election were only a “surprise” to people who don’t understand how mathematics and statistics work (i.e., “Conservatives”).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

    Can’t find any election results for Sandi Martinez’s race. Does anyone know how that turned out? I was just curious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

      Ah, here we are:
      “In Fargo’s former district, former Democratic state senator Michael J.
      Barrett of Lexington, made a political comeback, claiming victory before
      9 p.m. According to his campaign, he beat Chelmsford Republican Sandi
      Martinez by a wide margin.”
      http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/salem/2012/11/democrats_therese_murray_micha.html
      That’s a relief for MA

  • Zan Fraser

    A few New York City observations: (1) yesterday, the lines to my local voting place were incredible; people had to stand for at least an hour or more, in a dreary cold (in a town recovering from Hurricane Sandy); but were committed to cast their vote. (2) Around 11:30pm last night, I started to hear Hurrahs and Whooplas from the street. “Think maybe Obama won?” I thought. As if in confirmation, voices started to cheer “Obama! Obama!” (NYC is a very Liberal city) (3) Stories were going around starting last weekend, that Romney had vowed “first thing in office” to dismantle that frivolous government body FEMA. Don’t know for certain whether Mr. Romney was on record with any such thing, but it was being widely reported in NYC that he was, and at least believed as something not out of the question for him. Something one does definitely not want going on, associated with your name, a day or or so before an election, in the wake of Sandy.

  • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

    So, its really terrible, but I can’t read this headline without saying it to the tune of “I’m Sexy and I know it.” from LMFAO. Terrible song, but it gets stuck in my head so easily…