The confessional and the voting booth are the respective icons of religion and our civil religion: symbols of continuity—sacraments built to last—in which the former is as regal as any carriage and as rich as any coach, with its Solomonic columns and its solemn statues, with its decorative doors and its screened compartments; while the latter is where the penitent expresses his patriotism, not by arms but through the armaments of peace, as the gear-and-lever systems of old close the curtain and allow him to perform the oldest rites of our democratic republic.
It was quite a sight, to see people of all classes standing in line—to see men of all collars wearing shirts with white collars—waiting for the schoolhouse doors to open, so they could see a burst of sunlight.
There along the walls stood 875-pound machines of freedom: olive green sectionals like the battlements of Trumbull and Ticonderoga, repurposed for a day—Election Day—to record the secret ballots of all Americans.
They are postmodern partitions of carpet and plastic, with not even a fig leaf of privacy. They are latrines without doors or curtains, more suitable for dwarfs than dignified citizens, as a voter of average height would more likely soak his shoes than mark his ballot.
Gone, too, is the mixing of classes.
The image of the doctor in line with the dock worker, the farmer in front of the pharmacist, the lawyer behind the law enforcement officer, the merchant making way for a member of the Merchant Marine—all this, and more, belongs to history.
We live in precincts of great wealth or pockets of extreme poverty, where professionals congregate among themselves and the poor fend for themselves.
In between, far from those above them and fearful of falling down among those below them, neither covetous of those with means nor callous toward those of little or no means is the middle class.
Vote to save the middle class, so you need not seek absolution for the sin of having ended an entire class of people.