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Nov 04 2008

Vote!

Vote_1
And now, for my final election blogging post before it’s all over, a simple exhortation:

Get out and vote!

Wear comfortable shoes in case there are long lines. Wear warm clothes if it might be cold. Bring an umbrella if it looks like rain. Bring this number with you — 1-866-OUR-VOTE — in case you have any trouble with voter suppression or intimidation. (It’s the national election protection hotline set up by the ACLU.)

But do not be complacent. For the love of Loki, if you haven’t already done so, get out and vote.

Voting booths
This election is going to be determined by voter turnout. That’s actually true of all elections… and usually not for the better. But it’s quadruply true for this election. The reason this election has been going the way it has is because of an unusually galvanized electorate, with excited and active citizens from groups that traditionally tend to sit elections out.

That’s wonderful. It’s inspiring. It makes me feel all giddy and hopeful. But it’s not going to be very helpful if the galvanized citizenry doesn’t actually vote.

Stealing democracy
What’s more, you can’t count out the role of voter suppression in this election. From insufficient voting booths, to deliberate lies being spread about when and how to vote, to threats being made to young voters about losing their financial aid or even getting arrested if they vote, to legitimate voters being taken off the voter rolls, and so on and so on… a lot of people who want to vote, who should be able to vote, may wind up not voting. (There’s a good summary of this by Rachel Maddow, and a more insanely detailed summary on TPM Muckraker.)

It is the height of hypocrisy that the Republican Party — the ones who gas on in stirring abstractions about democracy and freedom, patriotism and the Founding Fathers — are so insultingly cavalier about the actual reality of democracy; so much more concerned about winning than they are about the principle that citizens of a country should be able to, you know, vote. But they are. And we have to not let them get away with it.

No on prop 8
Besides, there are a lot of elections going on today. It’s not just the one for President — there are elections for senators, governors, representatives, city councils, school boards, ballot initiatives, and more. The race for President may turn out to be not very close… but other races are close, and they’re almost as important as the Presidential race. More so in some ways. (It gives me chills to think of Prop 8 passing because it rained in San Francisco on Election Day, and San Franciscans thought Obama was in the bag, and didn’t bother to vote.)

There’s an African folk tale — I don’t remember the name of it — in which the whole village is invited to the king’s wedding, and everyone is asked to bring a jug of palm wine to pour into a communal pot for the celebration. One man says to himself, “I’m just going to bring water — with so many people bringing wine, one little jug of water in the pot isn’t going to make any difference, and nobody’s going to notice.” Then the feast comes, the wine is served from the big pot… and it’s all water. Everyone thought the same thing — “My little jug of water won’t make any difference” — and so all there was to drink at the wedding was water.

Don’t let that be the story of this election.

And maybe most importantly:

Voting is its own reward.

Firehoses
People fought and died, got beaten up and sent to jail, for our right to vote. Most obviously in the American Revolution… but also in the civil rights movement, and the women’s suffrage movement, and the movement to stop the poll tax, and so on and so on. They fought and died and so on, so that government could be the way a society decides how to pull together and pool its resources for everyone’s betterment… not the way a king, or an aristocracy, or a plutocracy, makes the rest of us pull together and pool our resources for their betterment.

Voting is how that works.

I don’t even care that much about how you vote. (Well, I do, of course. My two cents: Obama; No on 8 (support marriage equality), No on 4 (no forced pregnancy for teenagers); Yes on 5 (treatment instead of prison for non-violent drug offenders).) But honestly? It’s not nearly as important to me how you vote. It’s way more important that you vote at all.

Do it today.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    The Count

    The Countess and I sallied forth from our keep in Cape Ann at 10:00am in 64 degree weather and walked for 20 minutes to our polling station on Main Street. Our town has about 7,800 residents, so there was no line/no wait. We use paper ballots, and mark a big X in the box next to whom we wish to vote for.
    Besides the folks running for various offices we had three propositions. Number 1, abolishing the state income tax, number 2, decriminalizing one ounce or less of pot and number 3 banning dog racing.

  2. 2
    Dave Haaz-Baroque

    I’ve already had one friend here in San Francisco say that she’s received texts this morning saying that ‘because of the overwhelming voter turnout, Democrats are being asked to vote on Wednesday.’ Ugh…
    I like to believe the best for people, even people on the other side, but the amount of shenanigans the Republicans have been up to this election is unbelievable (and not good shenanigans, like a monkey on a tricycle – bad shenanigans, like a monkey with a knife). I mean, if they won this election, could they possibly feel good knowing that they did so through trickery and undermining the voting process? Doesn’t integrity matter to them at all?

  3. 3
    cognitive dissident

    I voted first thing this morning, and only wish that I lived in CA–so I could have voted against Prop 8!
    Please, please, PLEASE let’s seize this chance to make a statement about where we stand, and about what’s important to us.
    Don’t let it slip away!

  4. 4
    John D.O.W.

    I voted a couple of weeks ago in my state’s early election cycle, so I get to sit back today and (hopefully) enjoy the blue swell washing out the rethuglican garbage in the White House and congress…

  5. 5
    Kit Whitfield

    Good luck, America!
    And thank you, Greta, for all your outstanding posts in the run-up.

  6. 6
    Elaine

    Voting was smooth in the People’s Republic. Lots of people had voted early and were also dropping off pre-filled-out ballots. There were extra staffers to help the elderly guys who usually man the voting area (They must be in their late 90s). The lines were really short. The weather was great. We’ve been using paper ballots for a while.

  7. 7
    Cath the Canberra Cook

    Prop 8 looking bad.
    But OBAMA WINS!!!!!!! YES!

  8. 8
    Eshu

    This morning I have a new respect for the USA. Well done.

  9. 9
    Susan B.

    Hey, longtime reader, rare commenter here. Greta, at this time with nearly all the votes in it looks like California has failed to provide the equal rights that its citizens are owed. I want to express my sympathy to you in particular, as well as my anger that California–California!–has now set such a precedent. This is going to affect all of us, in all states, and that approx. 50% of the population of CA should be ashamed of themselves.

  10. 10
    Steph

    Prop 8 was a nasty fly in what was otherwise a pretty ointmenty night. I’m saving my No On 8 sign so that in a few decades I can prove I was on the right side at least.
    I’ve heard that the already existing marriages will remain legal, is there any word on this yet?
    It’s sickening that there are still so many bigots and still so many who just didn’t care enough. But they only barely won, and they had to lie their heads off just to get that. The minute hand on the civil rights clock was set back today, but the hour hand of generational shift grinds on. That girl from the Yes On 8 scare ad? By the time she’s grown up, she WILL be able to marry a princess.
    It’s cold comfort for those of us who’ve seen a right disappear for at least the near future, though. The repeal will come – let’s try to make it sooner rather than later.

  11. 11
    Ezekiah David

    CNN had a way to track (certain) ballot initiatives. My happiness about Obama is almost overwhelmed with my grief about:
    Arkansas banning adoption by “unmarried couples”,
    Arizona banning gay marriage,
    California seeming to go to the bigots,
    Florida’s gay marriage ban, and
    Nebraska ending affirmative action.
    Yes some of those were never going to go any other way, but nevertheless it is a rather large “fly in the ointment”.
    On the plus side:
    Massachusetts has decided to make possession of small amounts of pot a civil (rather than criminal) offense,
    California did not (seem, since the site refuses to call it) to vote for abortion limitations,
    Colorado also hasn’t designated human life as starting at conception, nor has it destroyed affirmative action,
    South Dakota refusing abortion limits, and lastly
    Washington has approved something that CNN says is thus: This measure would allow terminally ill, competent, adult residents of the state to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician. The person requesting to end his or her life must be medically predicted to have six months or less to live…
    So on the whole, sort of a wash for individual rights.

  12. 12
    John B Hodges

    Perhaps I do not properly appreciate the overall result of the election, certainly we must all give thanks for the Obama win and the general Democratic gains. But I find myself brooding and angry about the Prop 8 passage. I doubt my vitriolic daydreams would have a constructive effect in real life. The various religions that joined forces for the Yes on 8 campaign are nothing but organized swindles, including one of the oldest organized swindles in the western world. But I doubt it would help matters to rant this fact on the street corners.

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