I didn’t really mean to do it. I usually have more self-control. Something just came over me. I couldn’t restrain myself. Please forgive me.
I voted Friday.
I don’t have an excuse. I’ll be in town on Election Day and had planned to vote then like I always do. I’ve even taken off work Monday and Tuesday, making myself available to pitch in where needed, which would give me plenty of time to vote Tuesday, no matter how long the lines.
And, ordinarily, I like voting at our local polling place here in Mount Washington; I like bumping into our neighbors and silently giving each other mental terrorist fist bumps in this bluer-than-blue neighborhood for striking our blow for what we hope will be freedom and justice. Oftentimes, I take my 14-year-old daughter along, making it a family affair that I hope will rub off on her.
But after a long, antsy day at the office in Los Alamitos, I found myself behind the wheel Friday afternoon, headed back through the Orange Curtain, to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk. It’s probably no more than 10 miles as the crow flies, but unfortunately I was confined to surface streets, which were crowded with moms driving their kids to Halloween parties. As usual, I took a couple wrong turns to make the trip more exciting, then had to circle to the large parking lot several times to find an open spot.
Once I processed in at the Registrar’s front desk, I spent the better part of an hour in a huge, makeshift tent with hundreds of my fellow Angelenos—some who had spent hours there already—until my number was finally called and I could mark my ballot for Barack Obama and Joe Biden—and for our new friends Cynthia Loo and Lori-Ann Jones for LA Superior Court, for Xavier Becerra for Congress and Kevin de Leon for the Assembly, and against Prop 8.
And I’ve got to tell you, damn, did it feel good! Damn, damn, damn!
An Essential Sea Change
Since you’re reading this, I don’t have to tell you how important this election is.
Aren’t we all heartsick at the way the Bush-Cheney Administration has combined wrong-headed incompetence with wrong-hearted bellicosity to bring our country to its knees on so many fronts? Now, doesn’t the prospect of another Republican administration, led by an ill-tempered John McCain and an ill-informed Sarah Palin, leave a pit in all our stomachs?
America would survive a McCain-Palin Administration—Americans are resilient folk—but it would be another four years of grinding through an administration that simply doesn’t represent policies that reflect my views or those of most people I know.
On the other hand, Barack Obama’s performance through this endless campaign, the measured way he has addressed the economic and military crises that have arisen, the galvanizing way he has inspired millions of Americans as no one has for decades, the growing sense that this man and his Vice President, Joe Biden, would put together an administration that would get something done that we all want done—well, it vindicates every hope Sharon and I expressed before the California primary.
And, obviously, we’re not alone.
Even in states that have seemed to have gone over entirely to the Dark Side for decades, the Obama-Biden ticket has a shot just three days out:
- The New York Times reports that in Colorado “close to 1.5 million votes, or about 46 percent of the registered total, are already in the can, cast and waiting to be counted.”
- In Georgia, the Washington Post reports that a “record-breaking 2 million people cast early ballots in the U.S. state of Georgia, an indication of high enthusiasm over Tuesday’s presidential election that could help Democratic candidate Barack Obama.”
- And in North Carolina, where I lived for a couple years as kid, The Nation reports that Obama has a chance: “Obama’s North Carolina campaign, undergirded by 1,700 volunteers, 40 offices and close to 400 paid staffers (McCain has 30 offices but only 30 paid staff), has outregistered Republicans five to one in the state this year and drawn even in the polls heading into the campaign’s last weeks. In the first week of early voting, in mid-October, almost three times as many Democrats as Republicans were casting ballots in a record turnout; while African-Americans are only 22 percent of the state’s population, almost 40 percent of early voters were black.”
Long lines are reported in virtually every state that has established early voting. Not all the absentee and early voters will go for Obama and Biden, of course, but early returns are looking good for the Democratic ticket, darned good. These early returns, the long lines, the masses of Obama volunteers, and the mountains of small donations his campaign has amassed month after month tell us that something is clearly afoot.
America is on the move.
Bringing More of Us into the Tent
The crowd in the tent at Norwalk looked a lot like Los Angeles. African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Whites in roughly equal measure. Working class folk and young professionals. Young and old, but a lot of the young. More than a few who struggled with English.
I don’t suppose everyone there cast a vote for Obama. There was no electioneering, in the tent or outside. No one wore an inappropriate button or shirt—my Obama-Biden button was in my pocket and my “No on 8” tshirt under my regular shirt. Still, there were enough winks and nods and high-signs to say that the Democratic ticket was having a good day up and down the line.
I ran into our young friend Francisco Cendejas, who needed to vote early because he had decided to help get out the vote for Manuel Perez’s California Assembly race in Indio and Palm Springs and also pick up a ballot for his girlfriend Ana Mascarenas, who had returned to her home state of New Mexico to help with a Congressional race there. It was nice to see a friendly face in what was a friendly crowd despite the long waits, close quarters, and a bullhorn that rattled your teeth.
This election isn’t about race anymore than it’s about income redistribution. But an Obama Administration is going to make a big difference in race and class relations in this country. As our friend, Anthony Asadullah Samad wrote recently, America is finally letting one of the disenfranchised “drive the car.” Just the fact that a black man will be our President and a black woman our First Lady, two people who grew up in the straightened circumstances many Black Americans know, will send the clear signal to all the disenfranchised across America that they’re more fully inside the tent with the rest of us.
And that will be a good thing.
So let’s all make sure that good thing comes to pass so we can live the next four years as a dream, not a nightmare.
Editor, LA Progressive