It was impossible to miss. Unless, of course, you were a burlap-clad Sherpa living on a mountain somewhere in Eastern Nepal. In which case, I’m jealous. For the rest of us who weren’t wearing burlap on a Nepalese mountainside, it’s been an ordeal.
I’m talking about the election. For weeks, regular Americans have been hammered with political ads, polls and percentages. Every day, bright-eyed pundits would spout phrases like “daily tracking polls” and “Real Clear Politics averages” while citing the latest Gallup and Rasmussen numbers.
If a candidate sneezed, it was noted. Then a poll was taken and duly reported. By evening, the talking heads were whipping out their white boards, tallying up potential electoral votes for each candidate based on that day’s shifts in the swing states.
By the time it was over, many citizens were overcome with poll fatigue. At least, that’s what one post-election poll taken by the group “Enough With All the Polling Already,” or EWAPA, reported.
As bad as it’s been nationally, it’s been worse locally. “What is he,” I said to Mr. Schrock over dinner one night, “the next Gallup? Say, Gallup, Jr.?” He sighed, looking tired, and spooned up a bite of white chili.
I know good and well what it’s about. This is coming from the kindergarten room at the elementary school. That’s where Little and 22 of his classmates spend the day raising their tiny hands to ask questions, answer questions and request potty breaks. Then, still in question-asking, hand-raising mode, they come home. And inflict it on us.
That’s what happens here, anyway. Little Schrock, who loves school and everything about it, is simply recreating kindergarten for us, his loving family. And he’s having a blast.
“Raise your hand,” he’ll say, eyes shining, “if you’re a boy.” I sit this one out. All males within earshot raise their hands.
“Raise your hand if you’re a girl.” It’s the males’ turn to sit it out as I, the only girl within earshot, raise my hand.
Then he moves on to colors. “Raise your hand,” he looks around, “if your favorite color is…” And here, he works right through the original rainbow of Noah until everyone has lifted a hand.
After weeks of political polls by the big boys in the business, this should be a relief. The real Gallup and Rasmussen, they were hitting the heavy stuff, talking topics like taxes, jobs, foreign policy and the economy. “Raise your hand,” they’d say to the citizen on the other end of the phone, “if you’re furious. Or disturbed. Or content. Or only mildly annoyed. Yes, you raise your hand.”
Meanwhile, “Gallup, Jr.” was moving on to other things. “Raise your hand,” he’d order, flashing his dimple, “if you’re a cowboy.” Here, his own small paw would shoot up.
He’d go on. “Raise your hand,” he’d say, squirming in excitement, “if you’re a cowgirl.”
Believing in honest answers and full disclosure, I’d explain. “But I’m not a cowgirl.”
Two small shoulders would shrug. “Just pretend. Now, raise your hand if you’re a cowgirl.”
Which just makes you wonder, doesn’t it? When polls come out that look nothing like what you’re seeing, hearing or thinking, you have some questions of your own. The first one is, “Are they polling anywhere but New York City?” And the second one is, “Are they using Little’s model, ‘Just pretend. Now, raise your hand?’” I’m not saying. I’m just asking.
But back to the election. Following weeks of rancor and raucous debate, perhaps it’s time for a different raising of the hand. Perhaps it’s time for revival.
My Yoder cousins knew how it went. After some, uh, discussion (read “loud, angry debates”), we’d settle on a preacher. The rest of us, the congregation, would take our places on the pews (our steep, wooden stairs). Then the evangelist would “break the bread of life,” preaching a solid, hellfire-and-brimstone message with, I felt, a little more enthusiasm than was necessary.
We congregants knew our role. Never mind the minister’s own sins and failures. Never mind the fact that we’d put a bully in the pulpit. We knew what came next. Once the preacher had made his case and thundered it out, thumping the Word, he’d bring it in for a landing. And he’d open up the altar.
“If anyone here is convicted of sin.” He’d boom it, peering about with burning eyes. “If anyone here wants to git saved.” We’d tremble. “If anyone here needs to make a confession, raise your hand!”
One by one, hands up and down the stairway would sneak up. “Yes, I see your hand. And yours. And you in the back, I see your hand.” We’d gather at the imaginary altar before being led into another room to pray our prayers of repentance.
Maybe that’s just what this country needs to heal our wounds. To bring unity. To start afresh and anew. I wouldn’t use him, exactly. I’d go with a Billy Graham. If you agree, then for goodness’ sake, “Raise your hand.”