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Precincts reporting.

My son got a painful introduction to politics today, when he lost an eight-way race for president of his grade-school class.

He came home bitter, convinced that the winner had not played by the rules set out by his teacher. And he spent a chunk of time tonight throwing a soft squishy ball at the basement wall.

“Presidential stress relief,” he called it.

My political outlook tonight is not a sharp bitter sting, but more a dull prolonged throb.

I did my civic duty and voted for the candidates I feel best represent the direction in which I want my state and country to go.

And yet, I cannot avoid the feeling that national politics will be full of stonewalling, obfuscation and dirty tricks no matter who wins.

Nor can I escape the now-ingrained belief that both parties are pretty much all about helping rich people get richer — particularly at the national level, and to some extent on the state level as well.

I don’t think either party cares overmuch about people like me, or about confronting long-term problems that face our country. It’s all about short-term Band-Aids — or, as often as not, trying to rip off the other guy’s short-term Band-Aid.

In recent elections, I have taken to not voting at all in races where both candidates — or, this year, one unopposed incumbent — don’t deserve my vote. I wonder sometimes if that will lead to my completely abandoning the ballot someday.

On the other hand, I voted for a third-party candidate in a fairly significant race this year. There may be more of that in my future.

Supporting a third party seems each year like a better option, both as a new political path and as a general statement of purpose. Perhaps I should just embrace it, and get busy on it, and look for renewed energy there.

My son will get over his feelings about politics. Maybe he’ll win some other classroom contest. Or, at worst, his grudge will start to fade next June, when the school year ends and the winner steps down.

I am still hopeful, in a Charlie Brown sort of way, that something will come along to get me over my feelings too.

# # # # #

The line at 7:30 this morning outside my polling place. Not shown: Neighboring house whose aromatic fire made the half-hour wait more tolerable. In Pennsylvania, democracy smells like woodsmoke.

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