Trying To Keep It Real

November 10, 2008

Trying To Keep It Real

Has our long national nightmare ended with this last presidential election, or can we expect more of the same in a different package?

*BIG UPDATE* Michael Connell, Karl Rove’s computer expert, ready to to testify about his role in stealing the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, has turned up dead. How convenient!

*UPDATE* One commentator has pointed out how bloggers have been the driving force behind this past election… Sarah Palin! Here’s a clip of Rachel Maddow, who calls herself "a blogger on TV," responding to Ms. Palin’s vitriol with a fashion statement.

This past first Tuesday in November I dragged my half-sleeping butt down to my neighborhood polling station at the inhuman time of 5:45 in the morning like I always do. This year our election district has been voting at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club on Delaware Avenue while Thomas O’Brien public school in Lincoln Park is being renovated. There are four tables at this location, one each for four different election districts, and rarely does anything exciting happen at this spot other than voting.

This year, starting at five minutes to six, I saw something I’d never seen before. There was a line out to the front door of voters waiting for the polls to open. I sure wish I’d had a camera with me. Most of the folks standing in line were first time voters, and all but a few were persons of color.

Barack Obama

It turns out that these virginal voters had shown up early because they had all been hearing about vote suppression tactics around the nation. During the last two presidential elections, millions of voters, always in districts that primarily contain low income, minority or overwhelmingly Democratic voters, have been deliberately forced to stand in line and wait as much as 18 hours to exercise their right to vote. For this presidential election, these folks at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club were determined to exercise their rights even if it took all day.

We don’t have these kinds of problems in the City of Albany, so of course we had everyone in and out fast. By 7:30 AM the gymnasium that we were in was back to normal, with voters continuing to trickle in. The election inspectors went back to sipping coffee and discussing what they planned to have for lunch.

You may wonder what I’m doing hanging around a polling station, something I’ve been doing for about fifteen years. Technically, I’m a poll watcher, carrying an official certificate signed by the head of the local Democratic Party. My official job, as I understand it, is to make sure neighborhood Democratic voters show up to vote, and that they vote the way The Party wants them to vote.

But as far as I’m concerned, my real reason for being there is to protect my neighbors from being harassed by The Party or any other noodnicks while they vote. I do this because I believe passionately that everyone has a right to cast an equitable and secret ballot. I may be nuts, but I am able to do this because I have no fear of public officials, elected or otherwise.

This election we had record turnout in downtown Albany, what with so many people coming out of the woodwork to vote for Mr. Obama. I understand that overall polling numbers were down across the Capital District because a lot of Republicans didn’t vote. We only have a handful of those people in our election district, but I think only three of them bothered to show up at our table.

Undeniably, one big reason my black neighbors enthusiastically came out to vote was because they identified with Mr. Obama. This is perfectly understandable and not at all strange or to be frowned at. I know of a few elderly Irish Catholics who still have shrines to John F. Kennedy in their parlors.

Yet it took a lot more than first time minority voters and demoralized Republicans to hand Mr. Obama his well deserved victory. Over the past week, i’ve been chatting with middle aged white guys about the election, guys like me in other words. From almost all of them, I’m hearing two things:

1) They’re not enthusiastic about Barack Obama, but he appears quite competent while McCain and Palin clearly are not competent.

2) Anybody and anything is better than four more years of the Republican Party in the White House.

Mr. Obama appears to know perfectly well why he won by a landslide, and how much work he has ahead of him. Watching his acceptance speech broadcast after midnight on my computer, I noted how he frowned and looked grim a lot more than he smiled. This in contrast to Vice President elect Joe Biden, an old time pol, who joined Mr. Obama on the outdoor podium near the end of his speech and kept a wide toothy politician’s grin on his face the entire time.

Um, Let's Wait A Bit For This Um, Let’s Wait A Bit For This

Sure, I’m happy and relieved that we’ve finally given the boot to these unamerican Republicans, but I can’t quite bring myself to jump up and down and cry tears of joy over Mr. Obama’s victory. Nor am I ready to sign on to the notion that this election is the beginning of a new era of US history, although that is an intriguing notion. We’ll see in a few months if the president elect truly is a break with the past, or more of the same with a darker skin color.

It looks like the white voters did not secretly vote against the black guy while in the privacy of the voting booth. A few months before the election, the corporate media gave a name to this phenomena, The Bradley Effect. This phrase was deliberately inserted into the minds of everyone who watches TV. At first, I was puzzled about this. Why were the corporations instructing people to think about racial hypocrisy?

Well, a lightbulb lit up over my head after reading several commentators, who wrote that they believed The Bradley Effect was meant as a cover story to account for what was supposed to be the third presidential election stolen through electoral fraud. That sounded plausible to me. As a diarist on Daily Kos put it:

First, they push a narrative (in the form of the Bradley effect) that Obama’s poll numbers are artificially high and that we should expect to see those results collapse at the actual voting booth. Second, they push a baseless narrative of "that guy" engaging in voter fraud when they have a modus operandi of accusing others of what they’re doing themselves… See my point? They’re laying the groundwork for stealing the election.