How many now-boarded-up houses sported Bush-Cheney signs four years ago?
Cleveland, Ohio - i arrive in this battleground state for a battleground wedding. My younger cousin is marrying into one of those families I have only seen on CNN: Socially Conservative Republicans.
My uncle and aunt, liberal Democrats and atheist Jews, have been doing their best to accept both my cousin's conversion to Catholicism and the views of their new family-in-law - or if not accept, then ignore.
But the first things I notice in this Rust Belt city are the McCain-Palin signs - and the boarded-up houses on every block. It makes me think of Thomas Frank's What's The Matter With Kansas?, published in 2004, which argues that the GOP's religion-centred appeal has conned many in the American working class into voting against the Dems and their own interests.
Other political theorists disagree, saying that since the Jimmy Carter administration, the working class and the dispossessed have ceased to actually believe that the Democratic party can deliver on economic issues.
Either way, driving past the empty houses, I can only hope that, wherever those people are living now, they want government a bit bigger and God's role a little smaller and don't care so much if two gay guys on the other side of the country get married.
How many of these abandoned houses four years ago, I wonder, had Bush-Cheney signs on the front lawn in this state that no Republican candidate has ever gotten to the Oval Office without winning.
I wonder, too, why my cousin converted. She seems to believe earnestly in her new religion, and seems genuinely spiritual - apolitical even. I have to admit that faith in a system not governed by human beings - when the people running the economy have revealed themselves to be compulsive gamblers and con men - seems pretty damned attractive right now.
I try to put these thoughts out of my mind and shift to a more celebratory mood. My uncle has arranged a party for family members on our side of the wedding - a fete that feels like the Jewish caucus of the Democratic party. Everyone makes fun of Palin and talks over each other.
It's all pretty fun, but things get a little awkward when an old friend of my uncle's pushes the idea that Obama should pick the ex-Bushy Colin Powell for secretary of state.
When I ask why she'd want someone who backed the Iraq War in that position, she tells me she read the intelligence reports and, given the information he had, she would have done the same thing.
I begin to realize that I'm very Canadian.
The wedding is a Catholic ceremony, with the added stepping-on-a-wine-glass ritual, my cousin's nod to her Jewish heritage. The reception hall is the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. Our table, of course, cannot resist making jokes about the museum's "liberal'' bias in not putting replicas of early humans next to the dinosaurs.
In my uncle's speech, he says the occasion shows how people with vast differences can be brought together, whether "Democrat or Republican, Christian or Jew..." (and I imagine he wants to say "sane or insane").
It is quiet enough to hear hair growing when he speaks. He's clearly attempting to reach across the aisle, as it were, or just to acknowledge the elephant (and donkey) in the room.
Throughout the night, my cousin and her husband are truly glowing in their display of love and dedication. If nothing else, their love is something to believe in.
But the next morning, as we drive by the forsaken homes and pristine churches of Euclid Avenue, it occurs to me that neither secular nor divine love, God nor the market's invisible hand is going to stop the next round of foreclosures.
What Americans really need is a separation between belief and reality.
Jacob Scheier is the author of More To Keep Us Warm, which has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for poetry.