DELRAY BEACH, FLA. — The weather is far brighter than the mood on this election day, the temperature a toasty 81, the sky a cloudless blue, the breeze just enough to ruffle the fronds of the royal and sabal palms that grace the grounds of Boca Delray Golf and Country Club. “Another gorgeous day in paradise” is what people here ordinarily tell one another, but that’s not the today’s mantra. Today, more people echo retired furniture store owner Julian Kline.
“It’s the world’s worst election,” he says, moments after voting in the clubhouse of this gated, and primarily retirement, community, a neighborhood unto itself, like the dozens of others that stretch along the western reaches of South Florida’s coastal towns: Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Lantana, the Palm Beaches. “They’re name-calling back and forth.”
The desire to set things right may help explain voter turnout here – described by poll worker Lucille Arcuri as “excellent.” Today, a section of the clubhouse generally reserved for card players is acting as precincts 5092 (single-family homes) and 5100 (condos, town houses, villas).
Alvin Silverman, a self-described “knee-jerk liberal,” calls the national mood “angry, very angry,” the result of people feeling helpless and ignored. His own issues? “Selfishly, Medicare and Social Security. The non-selfish issues? The horrible education our children are getting, and the separation of wealth between the poor and the rich, the rich and the middle-class, really.”
Washington’s political logjam is another aggravation. “I think parts of our society have learned how to stop things,” says Silverman, “and they’ve become effective at tiring people out.”
Although he tries to vote for individuals, he adds, his religion can affect his choice: “I try not to let it, but it always does. If, in any way, my Jewishness or the Jewish world is being threatened.”
Both he and Kline acknowledge that, as Silverman says, “If I don’t know who to vote for, I vote for a Jew.”
Elayne Resnick, relaxing poolside in a purple bikini and a tan to inspire envy from a Coppertone ad, worries about the country’s political climate. “It’s going too far to the right,” she says, something that underlies her fear of a rise in anti-Semitism. “I feel that all these radicals were let out of a box, and that’s what scares me the most.
“Any extreme in any direction is not the answer. We need to learn to live in peace together.”