flwyd: (1895 USA map)
YouTube videos in honor of the day:
Chocolate City (Parliament-Funkadelic)
One Nation Under A Groove (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Funky President (James Brown)

It's a beautiful day in America.

Yes We Did

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 12:14 am
flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
I did a very insignificant amount today to help the election of the most impressive political figure of my generation. It seems that almost everyone in Lakewood voted early this year, but the Obama campaign–through an incredible volunteer organization–left nothing to chance and pushed to the end. President-elect Obama is able to inspire a wide range of people to make significant personal donations -- of money, of vacation time, of weekend time, of spare time, of sleep, and of sanity to play a small role in doing what they feel is right for America. If he can spread this energy beyond his campaign into society as a whole, he may leave an immensely important mark on the character of a nation for generations to come.

I'm sure I'll disagree with many positions he takes, but I know that he will take those positions after careful consideration with input from people who know what they're talking about. And that's really the core of good leadership.

I was also heartened by John McCain's concession speech tonight. It was almost as if he was eager to flee the fear mongering and red baiting he's engendered over the last two months. Perhaps he wanted to do away with the last eight years and get back to the John McCain who ran for president in 2000: a true bipartisan concerned with honorable action for the good of the country. I hope he helps establish broad support for fundamental changes President Obama wants to bring through.

When Bush leaves Washington, I hope he takes with him not only cowboy diplomacy and faith-based science but also the practice of railroading policy through congress, legislating from the Oval Office (signing statements), and executive secrecy. If Obama is to excite me as much in four years as he does right now, he'll need to graciously divest the Presidency of the powers claimed by his predecessor. He'll need to bring about important reforms and new programs not just with the help of 300 of his Democratic pals but by convincing the American people that the plans are strong so that they can convince their elected representatives to get on board. This is how a great orator can become a great governor.

To everyone who became engaged in politics this year for the first time ever (or the first time in a long time), stay involved. Politics is one part exciting, three parts boring. But by and large, it's the boring stuff that has an impact in our lives. Several local races in my area were decided by a margin smaller than the number of people who didn't vote for that section of the ballot.

Democracy is government of the people by the people who show up.

Today, this month, and this year, Barack Obama's supporters showed up. In the few days I've spent with the campaign organizers, I can see them fight to keep the chaos in check, straining to make it to the finish line without collapsing from exhaustion. They deserve a chance to rest and a chance to celebrate. But democracy isn't just about one person on one day. It's our civic duty (some might call it a curse) to stay informed and voice our opinions. I challenge everyone to be more informed each year about the candidates and issues on the ballot. Democracy is government of the people by the people who show up and it's based on the hope that everyone will show up and know what they're talking about.

Good night, and good luck.
flwyd: (Trevor over shoulder double face)
It ain't over 'till it's over.
-- Yogi Berra
Don't get cocky, kid!
-- Han Solo
FINISH HIM!
-- Mortal Kombat and [livejournal.com profile] tongodeon

I believe that in a generation, we'll look back on next Tuesday as the day hope beat fear. But there's still a chance that fear wins yet again. Obama leads in the polls, but 2000 and 2004 showed the strength of Republican vote suppression techniques. Polls measure how people say they'll vote, but they may not account for the people who try to vote and are prevented. Vote suppression takes many forms: challenging voters (because their driver's license has a middle initial but their voter file does not), misinformation (many Democrats and independents in Virginia received a flier telling them to vote next Wednesday... when it will be too late), poor resource allocation (the big story from Ohio in 2004 was few machines and long lines in black areas but sufficient machines and short lines in white areas), and purges of voter rolls.

Even without intentional voter suppression, elections have a significant margin of error. Voters might have a family crisis crop up and not make it to the polls. Voters can get confused by voting machines or ballot layouts. Touch screen voting machines can be miscalibrated (the official story on why West Virginia voters find their selection of Obama switching to McCain or third party candidates). Mail-in ballots can get lost in the mail or never delivered to voters (Sequoia Voting Systems made an error and didn't print ballots for 11,000 of a batch of 21,000 Denver absentee voters). These are important issues, and may work to the advantage of one side. It's important not to assume malice when incompetence is more likely. It's even more important to make sure neither malice or incompetence has a chance to affect the outcome.

The 2000 election came down to Florida having a vote spread that was within the margin of error. (New Mexico was also that close, but didn't have enough electoral votes to change the outcome.) Even though Obama is leading in the polls, it's important to get as many supporters to vote as possible. The Obama campaign needs to run up the score in swing states to be sure they're above the margin of error so there's no opportunity for the election to be lost through malice (voter suppression, electronic vote hacking) or incompetence (machine or human error on the part of election organizers or voters). Don't let Colorado become The Florida of the West.

You can do your part to help hope win. Obama's website has lots of information about where and when you can volunteer. Their focus is making sure their supporters get to the polls. Volunteer tasks include walking door-to-door with a clipboard or sitting in an office and making phone calls. At this point, if you volunteer you will only talk to people you know support the same candidate. You won't get into an argument with someone who thinks your candidate is a terrorist. You won't have to convince someone who's undecided. All you have to do is ask people "Have you voted yet?" If they have, check them off and nobody will bother them further. If they haven't, make sure they know where their polling place is and that it closes at 7pm. I'm an introvert, but I spent part of my Sunday afternoon canvassing and had a great time. I'm uncomfortable talking to strangers and I can do this. So can you. The Colorado forecast for this is for warm weather and streets full of dry leaves. You'll want to take a walk anyway; contact your local Obama office to canvass. You'll spend three hours enjoying the weather, getting exercise, and helping make history. If you don't live in a swing state or don't like walking, sign up for phone banking. If McCain pulls off an upset, you won't be able to do anything about it next Wednesday. Let's not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

If you can spare a few hours on Tuesday (Election Day), even better. I just signed up to be a poll checker -- comparing the precinct list of people who voted with the campaign's list. If you want to volunteer for that sort of job, you need advanced training, so get in contact soon. They also need canvassers and phone bankers, so show up for a shift if you can. If you volunteer, you'll be able to tell your kids "I did my part to elect an amazing president." Not only that, you'll get one of the most charismatic and thoughtful presidents of the last sixty years. If you don't help get out the vote and a McCain victory in Colorado proves the pivot point for the whole electoral college, you'll spend the next four years with a nagging sense of responsibility every time you grumble about the state of the nation.

I don't agree with everything Obama wants to do and I look forward to opportunities to improve upon his plans. But I'm doing what I can to help him get elected because I think they're the best plans we've had in years. If Obama wins, I feel like the federal government will be on the road to getting better. If McCain wins, I fear the government will only get worse. I hope in a generation I'll have to make a tough choice between the Democrats, Republicans, and other parties. But the McCain campaign has continued the practices that are killing the Republican Party's credibility and value to society. They need to hit rock bottom so they can rebuild right. If McCain gets elected, it will only prolong the victim's suffering.

flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
NOM NOM NOMINEE
from [livejournal.com profile] dieselsweet
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