Quote of the Day and Early Voting

Check out Colin Powell, in the midst of endorsing Obama for president on Meet the Press. (No transcript yet, but the link goes to a written rundown of the highlights as well as the video. Oh, and Petulant’s got more quotes.)

I’m also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, no, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, “What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?” The answer is no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion: He’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America. 


In other news, I voted yesterday. 

And yes, I voted for Obama. Given that I live not only in a solidly blue state but Obama’s home state, I could easily have stayed home, voted for McKinney or written in Clinton with a clear conscience. And there were times during and after the primary when I half-seriously considered all three as an alternative to proving Chris Matthews right about women being “low-hanging fruit.” But I didn’t vote for Obama just because I’m a registered Democrat and not the type to protest vote in the first place. As much as he’s pissed me off — and oh, has he pissed me off — ultimately, I like him, I like Biden, and it was pretty fucking exciting to cast a vote for an African-American presidential candidate who, by all accounts (knock wood), is probably going to win.

This story about 76-year-old civil rights leader and Georgia politician Andrew Young (not for nuthin’ also an early Clinton supporter) casting his vote brought home just how fucking awesome that opportunity was:

Young and his civil rights contemporaries “never thought that this would even be possible in our lifetime,” he said. “We didn’t think it was going to go this fast, that it would probably be our children’s children that had those kinds of opportunities.” …

“I often say that marching from Selma to Montgomery, if I had said to Martin Luther King that I wanted to be a congressman, mayor of Atlanta, ambassador to the U.N., he would’ve thought I was crazy,” Young smiled. “I don’t think we were ever thinking of a black president.”

Obama didn’t need my vote. But in the end, I was pretty damned happy to give it to him. Now he’d better not fuck it up.

73 thoughts on “Quote of the Day and Early Voting”

  1. I am deeply disturbed that people are using the terms Muslim and Arab as slurs in our country.

    Yep. And I’m deeply disturbed that this is the first time I’ve heard someone note on national TV that using “Muslim” that way would be wrong even if Obama weren’t Christian.

  2. I love Gen. Powell more than ever – which is saying a lot, seeing as I hated him pretty thoroughly during the Gulf War.

    I’d love to say more, but my hands are killing me today. It appears I have bonus rheumatoid arthritis along with Treehorn Syndrome. *eyeroll*

  3. Incredible how stupid people can be.
    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but besides not being a Muslim, he’s not an Arab either.
    Some people need to get a clue, and figure out that Ethiopia is on a way different continent.

    This is actually what scares me. I know a lot of smart Americans, and I have no worries about how they are going to vote.
    The clueless we can deal with. Given enough information, most of them should make a decent choice as well.

    I’m worried about the clue-hostiles out there. And I’m hoping there are less of them than we here in Europe think there are.

  4. I get to vote right next door to my apartment! I am excited. Until I moved to Illinois I had actually never voted in person — I voted absentee in college, and then in Oregon everyone votes by mail, and in Seattle you could do absentee even if you were not, you know, absent. So I get a little thrill out of actually going to a polling place and voting in person.

    There was a great article in a recent New Yorker (maybe last week?) about how voting used to take place in the US. I recommend it.

  5. My boyfriend is Malaysian and hoping to immigrate to the US. We were talking about this “Obama is an Arab” nonsense the other day. I find it terrifying that our children could face this same shit, simply because their father was froma Muslim country.

  6. I’m glad to hear Powell endorsed Obama and to see what he said is even better. It’s so true: who CARES if he’s Muslim? Being Muslim isn’t an automatic signal that you’re a terrorist. What if he was atheist? I’ve had enough of this.

    Obama ’08

  7. I also voted–absentee. Iowa may just turn blue for Obama, but it’s not a sure thing so I cast my vote there instead of throwing it away in red, red Utah.

    Yay for voting! And I think Obama did need your vote. I’m worried that all this talk of Obama pulling so far ahead is going to mean lower turn out on election day (i.e. people thinking it’s all tied up so they don’t need to bother voting). O why can’t election day be tomorrow, damnit?

  8. I voted for Obama via absentee ballot last week.

    Idaho has always been a red state, yes I live among them but I don’t think like them. I hope to live long enough to see the day when Idaho is at least a 50/50 state.

  9. I’m in Canada, but in the process of immigrating, so I still can vote in the States, and I SO am. Every. Single. Time. I go over the border, the U.S. border guard stops me and questions me and searches me and generally just harasses me, but this time, if those fuckers try to stop me from going back to vote, I am going to cause a stink. I am putting the ACLU in my phone before I go.

  10. That is such a heartening quote to read – I was just getting really terrified today, reading about the blatant scary racism that this election seems to be pushing to the surface all over the place. I need to remember that there are lots and lots of smart, compassionate Americans alongside the assholes.

    If I was American I would vote for Obama so hard. I just voted NDP in Canada, though, so I did my best!

  11. I can’t wait to vote. I’m voting for Obama as well, partly because this is my first Presidential election EVAR! where I actually get to vote, so protest voting isn’t really on my mind this time (not that it matters much, what with the whole Solidly Blue State thing).


    Did I mention – first Presidential Election EVAR?

    I’ve been waiting for this since I was 12! Heeeeeee! I’m gonna be doing a voting dance in the halls of my dorm when my ballot comes. There’ll be a little shimmy and then a mime of pulling a voting machine lever and then the Thriller dance and then a jazz square!

    Because no dance is complete without a jazz square.

  12. I’m in Maryland which is a blue state, but the county I live in bleeds 90% red, and many of the Republicans here are very right wing (they don’t believe McCain is consverative ENOUGH). To quote Velma Dinkley, Jinkies, that’s scary!

    I remember voting for the first time too (Clinton’s second term, just like Bald Soprano) and it was a great experience.

    Did I mention – first Presidential Election EVAR?

    That’s awesome, TM. I was still 2 months shy of my 18th birthday in November of ’92, so I couldn’t vote for Clinton the first time along with every other freakin’ person on my college campus — I was so mad. So count me as number 3 whose first presidential vote was for Clinton’s second term — absentee that time, since I was living in Canada by then.

    Sumac, rock on with the strategic voting.

    Oh, and Robbert, fyi, Obama’s father was from Kenya, not Ethiopia.

  14. Robbert, it’s true that Obama’s neither Arab nor Muslim (though it’s more important, as everyone else here says, that it shouldn’t matter if he *is*). But his father’s Kenyan, not Ethiopian, and secondly, some Africans (Egyptians) *are* Arabs.

  15. Advance voting has started for my county, and I am considering schlepping up to the county elections office just so I can vote and get it OVAH with…because, dude, there is NOTHING that could make me vote for McCain. ;)


    I have been deeply disturbed this entire campaign that virtually no one has responded to the “Obama is a Muslim” accusations with “So what?” They’ve all just been focusing on “No no! He’s a Christian! Look he goes to church! CHURCH!” Then again, I was shocked when I was a teenager and learned that people gave Kennedy shit for daring to be CATHOLIC. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised by this stuff, but I expect better from this country, dammit.

    It’s pretty exciting voting in Florida. My one little vote feels pretty big in a 27-electoral-vote swing state. Though I have lingering paranoia about a repeat of the 2000 fiasco – and I didn’t even vote until 2004. (Yeah, my first vote was for John Kerry – or should I say, against Bush, as many votes for Kerry seemed to be. At least I can say my first vote was put toward trying to get the worst president ever out of office.)

  17. Ack, I worded that badly. That should be, “So what if he WAS?” I know he isn’t.

    Also, the amateur linguist in me is irked that people can’t tell that “Obama” sounds much more Swahili than Arabic. Just because it rhymes with Osama doesn’t mean shit. But expecting people who are so xenophobic they equate “Muslim” with “terrorist” to know what African languages sound like is expecting too much.

  18. “(they don’t believe McCain is consverative ENOUGH)”

    that’s they way people here in Alabama think….

    my family is ultraconservative—they are so far right wing they make Rush look liberal…so me being agnostic and liberal and feminist kinda makes family gatherings pretty interesting

    anyway—I’m voting for Obama

  19. This is one thing I find so strange, looking down at the US from up in Canada. I have no idea which of my politicians are religious and I don’t care. They can be atheist, Christian, Muslin, whatever. Can they do the job I need them to do? That’s my question.

    My friends and I were horrified at the low voter turnout in our election last week. Hope you guys do better.

  20. Also, the amateur linguist in me is irked that people can’t tell that “Obama” sounds much more Swahili than Arabic.

    Well, to be fair, Hussein is an Arabic name (though, obviously, used by people other than Arabs), and the way Faux News has been pounding that one, I imagine every single person who’s convinced Obama is an Arab Muslim can tell you his middle name. Though I’m just being annoying and pedantic, because it’s obviously no defense.

  21. I was first old enough to vote in 1996, and my best friend and I made an evening of it after work. It transpired that she and I were voting pretty much the opposite of each other for everything, and at the time, neither of us were skilled enough in debate to do more than marvel at the wrongness of the other’s choices. :)

  22. I’m waiting like a little puppy dog by the mailbox for my ballot. I would put hearts and flowers all over the ballot next to Obama’s name except I’m afraid it would disqualify my vote. So I’ll contain myself.

    We have all mail voting here in Washington State. When the switch to all mail voting came, I was listening to a radio story about it and, heard it as “all MALE voting,” which I was pretty sure was illegal.

    I’m worried about our governor, the awesome Chris Gregoire. Her opponent would destroy so much about what I love about Washington State government, which, overall, lacks the corruption and cronyism that typifies government in some other states.

  23. Dino Rossi = box of bent tacks. Sorry I won’t be in the state this time to vote for Gregoire again. I don’t know, though. Even if he loses this time, you’ll probably see him as the Republican nom for governor every 4 years from now until he wins, that’s how stubborn he is. Prolly he’ll even refuse to die until he’s elected. Good luck, Washington state.

    And why did it take Colin Powell of all people to finally have the guts to say on national television, “Muslim doesn’t equal terrorist”? (Not that that isn’t a rhetorical question, mind you.)

  24. So I got this call yesterday, a telephone poll. I always answer them because I remember sitting in dingy little cubicle while people screamed I was interrupting their dinner (and I, of course, wouldn’t get MY dinner until I could get three more people to tell which brand of detergent they favored).

    It sounded legitimate for the first minute or two, which candidate is better on which issue, blah, blah, who would you vote for if the election were today and so on.

    But after I said I would vote for Obama, the woman I was speaking to asked me if I knew “what religion” Obama is. I said “Christian,” and she answered “Oh, because I’ve heard he’s a Muslim.”

    Well. As I said, I’ve worked in telephone research, and the “prime directive” is that you never, never, never share your own opinion or belief during the course of the interview. (When doing a survey on HIV knowledge for the state health department, I wasn’t even allowed to correct those who said they believed HIV could be passed by a handshake.)

    So I told her I didn’t believe she was legitimate and asked who she was really calling for–she continued to argue that she had “heard” he was Muslim, but she would be glad if that was wrong. I asked what difference it would make anyway, and she said, “Oh, no difference! That’s just what I’ve heard about him.”

    When I asked to speak to her manager, she left me hanging for a minute or so (I heard man say “you have a problem”), and then hung up on me. When I tried to call back, the number on my caller ID had been disconnected.

    Really pissed me off. Honestly, the more religious someone is (of any faith) the less happy I am about voting for him or her, but I too am tired of 1)Muslim bearing a “smear” and 2)deliberate misinformation campaigns playing on white American xenophobia. Grrrr.

  25. i have a surnme that reflects the muslim culture both my parents came from. they converted to christianity after they got married, but they still grew up more or less muslim. i cant tell you how many ignorant & malicious people have blathered on about obama being muslim. it offends me that there are people like this in my great melting pot of a country. and it’s sad that i have to wait until they shut up to tell them that my last name is mulsim, because my family comes from a long line of muslims, & my grandads & grannies that i grew up with & love are muslim, etc… & then their faces freeze & crumple, but you know what? they deseve the inkling of shame i hope they feel. i hope they feel it & they learn something about tolerance & humanity. but i dont think so. instead, they try to save face by making me the ‘other’, & treat me colder.

  26. I’m still waiting on my absentee ballot to come in. And when it does, I’m voting for McCain.
    Somewhat random here, but it does rather bother me this love affair everyone has for Obama. I’m sick of the media, actors/actresses, and even other countries falling all over Obama and essentially acting like I should vote for him. If I agreed with his policies, I’d bloody well vote for him. I agree with some of McCain’s policies, so I’m voting for him. (I’m still waiting for an election where I don’t feel like I have to wonder which one is the lesser evil.)

  27. It seems a lot of people are surprised that Colin Powell endorsed Obama, but deep down, I had a feeling he would. And not because of race (like Rush Psychobaugh implied), but because the current administration has screwed the US in the ass when it comes to our allies and foriegn policy in general, and like a lot of people, he also feels Sarah Palin does not have what it takes to lead the country if something happened to McCain. He believes Obama can be a big help in trying to repair relationships with other nations.

    We’ll see if this support boosts Obama or not, given the racist attitudes that this election has brought forth from people of all backgrounds.

  28. Thank you so much for this post. I thought I was going to cry when I read what Powell said. There has been such a backlash against Muslims in this country, resulting in violence towards many immigrants. What Powell has said will go a long way towards correcting misperceptions. There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and we live our lives as peacefully as we can. We get almost no postive press and then people ask, “Where are the moderate Muslims?” The media said nothing about Muslim food and blood drives to help out after 9/11; nothing about the 15,000 Muslims in the US Armed Forces; nothing about the 100, 000 Jordanians who marched in protest of a terrorist who called himself a Muslim Jordanian; nothing about the incredible humanitarian work done by Muslim leaders all over the world…the Aga Khan, Imam Feisal Rauf, Qeen Rania. Thank you, Colin Powell, and thank you, wonderful FA/HAES community.

  29. I turned in my absentee ballot this morning. It was a pretty great feeling this time – I actually got to go to an Obama rally in my podunk town this year and did quite a bit of canvassing on the weekends so I feel my vote is even more “loaded” for me this time. I’m pleased to hear Powell speak up this way. I wish more would.

    It’s also important for me because my state has a lovely “life begins at conception” amendment on the ballot and I nearly poked a hole with my pen I so violently said no… I’m afraid of that one big time. It’s a sneaky way to ban birth control and kill women. :(

  30. Man.

    I dunno what to think anymore.

    I still haven’t even decided whether or not I want to vote at all, let alone for whom, and here a bunch of people I respect and care about are practically jumping out of their skins with excitement over it, freaking ordering a ballot ahead of time.

    If politics meant anything to me other than stress, rage, familial tension and generalized feelings of utter hopelessness, I guess it would be a little different. Everyone talks about how important it is to exercise your VOICE. How you gotta vote, because bla bla bla I don’t even listen anymore when people start on it… all I wanna know is… WHERE IS MY VOICE?!

    Sure, it’s a selfish question. But I still think it’s a legitimate one. If it’s so important for me to stand behind someone I feel is speaking for me, then dammit, where is that someone?! Who cares about the issues I care about? Who wants for this country, this world, the same things I do?

    Doesn’t seem like anybody. Not that I can hear.

    Now, as I know I have mentioned before, I don’t fall for any of that “teh world is going to hellz decline of morals and family values boo hoo hoo” shit. But I’m just… I’m sick of the same old garbage. Every time an election comes up, does anybody say anything good, about anyone or anything? No. It’s just a bunch of “YAY we already know that the quickest and cheapest way to sway a lot of people at once is with FEAR! Moral high ground is for lozerz who don’t want to be prez. Screw what our party is going to do for the greater good, let’s just all sit around and encourage everyone to be terrified of the other party!”

    I personally feel the two-party system isn’t working in this country as effectively as it once did. People like me, who have pretty much HAD IT with both the dems and the repubs, well where do we go? What’s left? Even the Green Party isn’t really serenading me this year. In fact, they’re not talking. I haven’t heard a word outta them.

    If I was a “good” activist, I’d start the Hippie Throwback Party. With a vengeance, dammit. I’d call it that, too. But honestly? I don’t feel like much of an activist. I feel like a confused kid who’s too old to still be struggling to find a place in the world, but too young to figure out what to do.

    It’s one of about a zillion reasons I’m excited to be going to teach in Japan (no I haven’t been accepted yet but POSITIVE THINKING FTW). It’ll be nice to trade the problems here for another country’s issues for a little while. Some perspective.

    Not trying to be a downer or anything, sorry… just airing my thoughts.

  31. I still vote in Oregon – though I’ve been in school elsewhere and am now in a year long job elsewhere – and we have all vote by mail. I’ve never gotten to go to the polls, which I regret, but I’m proud of our voting system generally. We have one of the highest turn outs in the nation. :-)

    What’s driving me crazy at the moment is that I work in a federal government job that forbids political activity. No bumperstickers, no phone banking, no donations to candidates. It is KILLING ME. I feel so impotent! So if anyone out there feels like doing some phone banking, think of me!

  32. Now he’d better not fuck it up.

    That goes double for the Secret Service. Because these “he’s really an Arab terrorist” people do more than irritate me, they fucking scare me.

  33. Jon Stewart did a bit on this the other day. He used the clip where McCain tells some lady “No, ma’am, he [Obama] is not a Muslim, he is a decent family man.” Stewart basically blasted the idea that the sets of “Muslim” and “decent family men” do not overlap.

    I just wish all the people watching Fox Newz (not to be confused with actual news where there have to be facts) could see it.

  34. @Time Machine: Honey, my first presidential election was 1980, and I STILL want to do a dance complete with jazz square whenever I come out of the polls. I’ll be extra proud to dance this time in honor of (knock wood!) this nation’s first non-white president.

    Now I look forward to the day when the color of the candidate’s skin, the contents of the candidate’s trousers, and the question of which God (if any) the candidate believes in are not issues at all. Content of character and content of political agenda, those are what I care about.

    I don’t care what color Obama’s skin is (though I do happen to enjoy the scenery quite a bit), or what his religious affiliations are. I care about the fact that his policies strike me as more fair, more in keeping with the principles our nation was founded upon, and more likely to gain than lose us allies abroad. Dammit, I want a president I can be proud of. I can be proud to have Obama represent me.

    And I think it’s appalling in this day and age that we have to remind people that not being Christian isn’t the same as being anti-American, given to terrorist acts, or in any way inherantly evil. More than that, it appalls me that the people who claim otherwise so often wrap themselves in the flag and claim that was what the founding fathers told them. You know, the same founding fathers who wrote those pesky bits into the Constitution about separation of church and state, protection against unreasonable search and seizure…yeah, all those bits that are about, you know, PERSONAL FREEDOM.

    Oh, and so with you, FJ on the scary people the Secret Service needs to watch out for. I, too, fear that fear and prejudice will lead to appalling actions.

  35. And I think it’s appalling in this day and age that we have to remind people that not being Christian isn’t the same as being anti-American, given to terrorist acts, or in any way inherantly evil. More than that, it appalls me that the people who claim otherwise so often wrap themselves in the flag and claim that was what the founding fathers told them. You know, the same founding fathers who wrote those pesky bits into the Constitution about separation of church and state, protection against unreasonable search and seizure…yeah, all those bits that are about, you know, PERSONAL FREEDOM.

    Word. I’d really like to know how our founding fathers became champions of radical fundamentalism, and who decided that they were. Because they’d be turning in their graves today if they knew the amount of religious zealots out there who are determined to reverse what they wrote.

  36. If it’s so important for me to stand behind someone I feel is speaking for me, then dammit, where is that someone?! Who cares about the issues I care about? Who wants for this country, this world, the same things I do?
    Doesn’t seem like anybody. Not that I can hear.

    Oh, SugarLeigh, despite my enthusiasm for Obama, I relate to that more than you know. Part of my philosophy on voting in a two-party system is that I’m usually willing to vote against someone just as much as for someone, even if I would really, really like to do the latter. (Which is why I wrote so many Shakesville posts entreating Obama to earn my goddamned vote instead of taking it for granted.) But I’m fully willing to acknowledge that that’s a pretty sad and cynical philosophy. Which is why I’ve also written so many Shakesville comments defending people who said they didn’t intend to vote for Obama. Above all, I believe that each person’s vote is precious, and I can’t stand the bullies on either side who scream at people to fall in line instead of voting their conscience — whether that means voting Democrat, Republican, Green, Other, or not voting at all.

    I do like Obama, and I think that if he hadn’t run in the primary against a candidate I liked even more, I probably would have been willing to let a lot more of my disappointments with him slide. As it was, it took me a long time after the primaries to see anything impressive in Obama again. (I’d loved him just as much as everyone else before the race got started.) But I finally remembered that I like him because, as Powell said, he’s intellectually curious — even if he says and does stuff that makes me want to kick him in the shins, I know he’s at least not going off half-cocked. And I don’t believe that about McCain. I also like his health care policy a whole lot better than McCain’s (though I liked Clinton’s even better), and I’ve come around to thinking Biden was a really smart pick for VP — more evidence that Obama thinks shit through.

    And finally, as I said in the post, I am really stoked about the symbolic value of having a black man in the White House. A lot of people want to discount that, but I think it’s terribly important. Obviously, I wouldn’t be stoked about just any black guy — any more than I’d be stoked about the symbolic value of Sarah Palin in there, though I fully admit I voted for Clinton on symbolic grounds as well. The simple fact that this country might elect a black man to lead us (and the world) sends such an amazing message to the assholes who equate “real Americans” with white Americans. It changes the game to something we’ve simply never seen before. And I am really, really excited about that.

    So I found enough reasons to vote for Obama on my own terms. But I still relate so much to your comment. (And yeah, I’d love to see us move away from a two-party system, too.) Good luck figuring out what, if anything, you want to do.

  37. Unrelated to Obama – but if anyone here feels like being angry today, check out Carolyn Hax’s column in the Washington Post:


    I used to adore Carolyn Hax. I’ve been reading her for most of my adult life. But that all ends now. Her response to this advice-seeker will turn many a Shapeling stomach. Ugh.

    The kicker is, I actually agree with her advice when boiled down to basics: this couple should break up. But obviously, my reasoning is not like Carolyn’s. While she thinks the couple should break up because a woman (GASP!) gaining weight is an act of utter dishonesty, I think they should break up because the woman deserves better.

    I already sent a not-so-complimentary email to Carolyn Hax about this garbage. (tellmemore@washpost.com) And to be fair, the installment promises to be continued tomorrow, so many someone sets her straight. But I tend to doubt it. Someone this fat-phobic has got a lot of work to do, and the Post isn’t better about publishing fat-friendly viewpoints than anybody else.

    Anyway. Hax’s barely-restrained disgust at the woman for daring to put on a few pounds nearly radiates off the page. I just couldn’t believe I was seeing this in my morning paper. You know the fat hate is out there, but when it comes in the form of sad little internet trolls and beauty magazines you’d never touch anyway, it’s one thing. But from someone whose advice you’ve actually respected in your life? Someone you once admired? Ouch.

  38. Whoa. I’m glad I wasn’t reading that online discussion, because I would have lost it. I normally read them every week, but I guess this has to be it for me and Carolyn. Sad.

    Too bad I’m too much of a mess right now to be writing Aunt Fattie, because apparently she has a niche — that is, the vortex of sensible attitudes on fat created by every other goddamn advice columnist except Miss Conduct. I really thought Hax was one of the good ones.

  39. Powell makes great points. I’ve admired Obama for years and am so thrilled that such an exceptional person might be our next president. So, to make sure my voted counted a tiny bit, I decided to stay a WI resident until I voted. (I moved to Chicago very recently.) I’m a bit scared, however, since the latest CNN polls show McCain gaining quickly. Are people really that influenced by sly innuendo and character assasination?

  40. That’s so sad.

    I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt – she’s answering on the spot in her online chats, while the actual columns have a much bigger lead time. Maybe if she had weeks to answer that question rather than minutes, she’d have come up with something better.

    But I still hate that she didn’t even seem to try. That the first and last place her mind went with the dilemma is, “she thought it okay to maintain her appearance only as long as it took for her to get engaged.” Like that’s it? The only reason a woman ever gains weight is because she’s not trying anymore? The weight gain was a big, dramatic “screw you” to her fiance now that she’s got a ring, and nothing more? All that matters is his, “ewww fat” knee-jerk, and not any of the psychological or physical things that factor into weight changes?

    The mind boggles.

  41. Thank you, Kate. That helped more than you know.

    I would also like to thank you for talking to me like an adult with an opinion that, while confused, is still formed with an education and my own inner morals and ideas of sense, instead of a dismissive “it’s just because you’re young, you’ll figure it out.”

    It’s part of the reason this whole issue is such a stressor to me. My parents forget that I’m not THAT young. They also seemingly forget (if they ever knew?) that implying somebody is a wet-behind-the-ears know-nothing whelp isn’t as helpful or comforting as advertised.

  42. I still wish they would give us the option to mark “none of the above” on the ballot. I am not happy with any of the national candidates for president (and anyone who believes Bob Barr is even CLOSE to being a Libertarian I’ve got lovely bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you cheap). I am giving serious consideration of writing in Teddy Roosevelt with Eleanor Roosevelt as VP.

  43. One day recently, over lunch, the topic of the presidential campaign came up. An older African American gentleman in my department of history (at urban southern university) explained to a young student why he had to vote for Obama. This older colleague grew up one of the most segregated, racist parts of the U.S., northern Louisiana. He remembered a time when a black man taking a drink from the whites-only drinking fountain nearly caused a riot in his hometown. He described how the man was nearly lynched and how the police had to break up the riot with gunfire. All over a black man, a person, taking a sip of water from a water fountain that was marked for whites only.

    This older colleague said that there was no way he could note vote. Not after what he had seen and heard in his life, a black man in the poorest part of the country. The whites only drinking fountains. The run down schools with only a stove pipe for heating for colored children. The second hand text books that were ten years old. The rumors of a cousin or uncle being lynched for earning more than his white competitor. His desperately poor family family that depended on cotton production for their livelihood. He said that it was his duty and his right to vote, because he had known of people who had literally died trying to secure the right to vote for African Americans in the South.

    So, perhaps you’ll forgive me having little patience for people who don’t vote. And who also ask for an amen when they can’t figure out what voting is all about. For my people, African Americans who migrated out of the South to find a better life for themselves, voting is everything.

    You may not agree with Obama, or think that’s he’s not that different from all the others. But please, for the love of history, remember that there was a time in your parents’ lifetime, when voting meant death for many Americans.

  44. Nikki, I could be wrong in thinking that was aimed at me. So I hope I’m able to try to step into your shoes and not just feel frustrated and unheard, because maybe you have something valuable to teach me.

    But perhaps YOU will forgive ME for feeling defensive when that’s EXACTLY the kind of stuff people say to me, and it’s yet to help me gain any perspective on how my one little vote means diddly-shit in light of the fact that I don’t agree with the POLITICS of the people campaigning, regardless of how many people of color were hung or how many women got the fuck beat out of them in jail years before I was born.

    Here is how a “voting” conversation normally goes, for a little peek into why I’m still struggling with this so hard (and you’ll notice, I didn’t say I was against voting, I just said I was undecided in what to do this time around):

    Sugar: Geez, I don’t know what to do about voting this year. I just am so sick of politics right now. I am not even sure if I should vote. I think if I do, I’ll be really tempted to write-in Lassie.
    American Adult Person: GUH. That is SO un-American! You’re disgusting. People DIED for the right to vote! You non-voting kids, you make me SICK. You all think you know EVERYTHING.
    Sugar: it’s not that! I just don’t feel like I agree with this whole two-party system, and I’m having a hard time with the way the candidates spend more time arguing than talking about what they’re gonna do, and the media just sits around yelling and turning everything into a shit-slinging contest. That isn’t what the US is about to me.
    AAP: FINE. Don’t vote, you whiner! But you better not complain when things don’t go your way, you’ll have NO RIGHT because you didn’t vote!!!!
    Sugar: Huh? But, things aren’t going to go my way no matter what, even if the guy I vote for gets in. That’s, you know, kinda my point.
    AAP: bla bla bla America is great bla bla bla the founding fathers bla bla bla war bla bla bla the damn commies bla bla bla! If you don’t like America you can LEEEEEAVE.
    Sugar: I do like America! I thought the whole point was to be able to have an open discourse about your government, even if that includes complaining, so our country can grow and improve with the changing times and continue to be great! Right now, I am not sure enough about my position or the positions of the people in power to feel like I can make an informed decision. It would all be peer pressure. I just don’t know what to do!
    AAP: Well, it’s just because you’re one of those youthful hippies. Don’t worry, we all start out as stupid idealistic subversives. You’ll figure it out. *pat on the head or shoulder*


    … Oh. Wait.

  45. Here’s my thing on the two party system. Yeah, I’m more liberal than any candidate who will be nominated by the Democratic party in the near future. But I’m also more liberal than probably 95% of the United States population. So while I can – and, I hope, do – work for what I think is right, which includes promulgating my liberal hippy views, I know that anybody who gets elected to president is going to be way less liberal than me simply by virtue of the fact that it’s a compromise between all the people of the country, most of whom are less liberal than me. So while I want to move this country farther less, I also know we’re not there yet.

    So then when it comes time to vote, I have two options. I can not vote or vote for a candidate who has no shot. Or I can vote for the candidate who does have a shot who’s closer to my political views. The first option may or may not make a statement (voting for a third party candidate probably does to a certain extent; not voting probably does not unless you make it clear in some kind of public forum why you’re not voting). Or I can cast my vote for the compromise candidate I think is the better candidate.

    And ultimately, you know what? I believe in the democratic compromise. I believe we’re better with a democratically elected leader than not. Even if that democratically elected leader is one I don’t like. So when it comes time to cast my vote, I opt into the system and opt to have my vote matter in the election itself instead of some statement into the ether that I can make just as effectively by advocating my liberal views at other points in time where they won’t detract from the better of two compromise candidates.

    Most of all, I do this because I believe the Republic and Democratic parties, while both more conservative than than I’d like were I designing a country from scratch, are so very, starkly different. And honestly, after eight years of watching the progress that those third party voters and others with their views being eroded away by an administration diametrically opposed to them? I can’t imagine that the statement made by voting for a third party candidate or not voting would have a greater effect than electing someone into office who at least isn’t dedicated to wiping out abortion rights, the environment, civil rights and liberties, etc.

    So that’s why I vote Democratic. And actually, I really like Obama – I think he’ll do a good job even if he won’t implement my ideal super liberal politics. I think he could move the country further along the liberal spectrum which is where it needs to be before any really progressive candidate has a shot.

  46. Hmm. Lilah, thanks, I’ll be mulling that over further.

    Sort of like that “lesser of two evils” argument I also hear a lot, but WAY less of a cop-out. I understood it a little more the way you put it.

    I still would rather gain a valid third party, or better still get rid of both parties and come up with something better (probably never gonna happen ever but a gal can hope). I don’t know how the hell I’m going to encourage that if I vote for the two Main Contenders. But they say I’ll be throwing my vote away otherwise.

    Hmm. Actually, you helped me see something important, there. Maybe voting for a third party, regardless of whether I think they’ll get in or even WANT them in, could be an exercise of my voice, right there. I’d be pointing out that they EXIST, and some of us NOTICE that. Maybe I will go to the polls after all! At least I feel a little better.

    DUDE. Lilah. That was awesome of you. THANKS!

  47. It’s good that you’ve found a way to exercise your right to vote without feeling disconnected from the process, Sugarleigh. it sounds like you were treated very unfairly by people close to you regarding political debate. That can be very frustrating and silencing.

    To that end, I would like to say that at no point did I call you disgusting, un-American, a youthful hippie, or a stupid idealistc subversive. In fact, I’m saying that the right to vote belongs to everyone. Beyond the dysfunctional political environment that badly treated you, there is another world, another experience . While you might have doubts about the political process, there were (and are) millions of people who had no access or very limited access into the political realm at all. And it’s from that point of view that I write.

    So yes, my comment was aimed at you. And yes, I acknowledge that you’re defensive response. Yet, feeling defensive for not voting is not an experience that easily translates to the lives of many Americans.

  48. *applauds Colin Powell* i’m so glad that SOMEONE finally said it! my first thought when reading “Is he Muslim or Christian?” was, “wait.. why the fuck does it matter?”

    there are only two qualifications to being the president of the usa. you must be 35 years or older, and a natural citizen of the united states.

    that’s it.

    nothing about religion at all. it saddens me that the vast majority of americans equate religion with ability to lead. (or equate religion with terrorism, which is also disturbing.)

    can you imagine a Buddhist president? Islamic? Pagan? i dream about it, but i don’t see it becoming a reality in my lifetime. that seriously makes me sad. freedom of religion means nothing if we exclude potential leaders based on their faith. bleh.

    i tried discussing politics with my mom and she said “But he’s a Muslim” in a horrified whisper. then i had to explain that Islam is not a violent religion AT ALL, and the terrorists are fringe fundamentalists. EVERY religion has fringe groups like that. (i used the example of Westboro Baptist Church being a fringe group of Christianity.)

    frankly, i wish talk radio would die. that’s where i hear most of the garbage coming from. i know that isn’t fair and freedom of speech has to go on, but damn… there is a lot of crap being spouted as truth. and as we all know, when you hear the same thing over and over again, you start to think it MUST be true. after all, if it wasn’t, wouldn’t everyone know what the real truth was?

    my train of thought is bouncing all around tonight. *^_^* last point here!

    i know that historically, smear campaigns are nothing new. and smear campaigns can turn the tide of an election very quickly. but i think at this point, they do vast amounts of harm to our country. let’s face it, this race is going to be very close. around half of the population is going to be living under a president they didn’t want. in my opinion, smear campaigns do nothing but divide the country and encourage the radicals to take uh… radical action.

    here is my wish: that candidates must have all advertisements approved by an independent third party fact checker. and any smears during speeches would incur penalties of some sort. (maybe reduced speech time at the next function.)

    beyond that, i wish that all candidates were held to the same monetary amount for campaigning. i’m for obama, but i think it’s vastly unfair that in one month he’s spent what mccain has had to budget out for his ENTIRE campaign. it’s absurd!

    there’s more i could say, but i think i’ve covered like, 5 different topics in one post. whoops. *^_^*

  49. LilahMorgan, that’s it exactly. “I believe in the Democratic compromise.”

    Obama doesn’t represent my views. He doesn’t represent my politics. But I’m not the dictator of America, nor should I be. I would like to convince more Americans to agree with my politics, but I can’t impose that vision on them. So out of two fairly centrist choices, I’m trying to lean the Democratic compromise closer to my end of the spectrum. It’s hard enough to get seven people to agree what toppings you should put on your pizza, which is why I never get to have pineapple. When you are talking millions of people? Well, I’m never going to get pineapple, I understand that. But we should be able to compromise so there also isn’t one with anchovies.

    It’s not lesser of two evils, it’s people with radically different views coming together to find something we can all find tolerable. That’s actually kind of beautiful.

  50. Thanks everyone! It feels good to finally (finally!) be decided as to what I’d like to do come voting day. I even actually feel a little bit good about this now, as if I might, in some small way, be doing something that furthers my personal values. :)

    And that really is a beautiful thing.

    Nikki, thanks for not getting upset, and for clarifying how voting means so much to you without invalidating my point of view. That was cool.

    Hoshi, I agreed with very nearly everything you said. Also, I selfishly want a neo-pagan president (even though it’s not my personal faith), because at some point there should be a big to-do in the country somewhere where we make a giant deal out of Solstice. FUN. Also, the world needs more drumming, so I’m really on board for that.

    and Deborah? That pizza analogy? That analogy owned anything any of the pundits has said on TV since the beginning of these madhouse, er, white house, shenanigans. You should replace those crotchety know-it-all talking heads my dad is constantly listening to, you’d probably yell less, rock more, and be more pleasant to look at.

  51. Seriously, Deborah. What IS it with people not like pineapple on pizza? That is the first thing that’s changing when I get declared dictator.

  52. I was going to write in Ron Paul, since I also live in a deeply shaded state and won’t make a difference anyway. I say “was going to” because I missed my first voter registration by 3 days. I feel as though I’ve failed as a citizen. Well, next time, I suppose.

  53. Wait, d’you gotta register again every time? I voted when Bush got in for er, I think the second time. Shit, or was it the first? I don’t remember who the other guy was, though I remember everybody making fun of him for getting Botox. I figure I’m still reg’d from that. I hope that’s true or I sure am gonna look like a dork at the polls.

  54. I don’t know if you have to every time, but this was the first time I’ve been eligible to vote in an American election, so I had to register.

  55. You should be fine, SugarLeigh, unless you’ve moved or something. Often you can check the Secretary of State’s website for your state and there’ll be a database (seems odd but voter registrations are public records, so . . .)

  56. This was my first time voting, which I’m pretty excited about. I decided to do absentee ballot, and mailed it in a couple days ago. Maybe not THE best thing to do in Florida, but yeah. And I did vote for Obama. I would love to see this state go blue.

    I stumbled in trying to explain why I voted for him to my dad (who didn’t register to vote and doesn’t like him or McCain) though, not because I don’t have my (very good) reasons, but because I have serious difficulty articulating myself well on the spot. I also didn’t know how to explain why I’m not concerned about Obama’s associations with Ayers, etc. though my dad is.

  57. I was already resolved in my vote, but when my mother tried to dictate to me on voting her way with a stern, “You’d better not vote for Obama. He is Bad News.” and proceeded to tell me how immoral (!!) such a vote would be, she pretty much guaranteed no last minute, insane change of mind outta me.

    Seriously, I still can’t believe she thought she could make me, a 34-year-old woman, do what she wanted. At the time I couldn’t even be logical. I just begged out of the conversation with a sudden-onset migraine.

    Also, I can’t wait for the political ads to stop. The federal ones aren’t so bad, but if I see another Dino Rossi slur ad (WA state), I might explode. He and his disingenuous smile had better not win.

  58. My first presidential election vote was an absentee ballot for Kerry. In Georgia, which means it meant nothing, even if it was counted. The redness was appallingly rampant (except my county – Chatham – was blue, probably because of Savannah’s delightfully large gay population).

    I voted in the primary, but I am really excited to go and pull the lever in the general election. I got the tingly great feeling of voting for a woman to be president (woot to the Clinton supporters) and I look forward to doing the same thing for an African American candidate. My vote for either candidate was in no way cast BECAUSE of those things, and I would be voting for the same people if they were male/white, but damn it feels good to not be voting for an old white guy.

    By the way, Colin Powell is probably the only Republican I can ever imagine myself voting for. I wonder if Obama will use him somewhere in his administration, because a) he’s really smart and knows his shit and b) he’d technically be a bipartisan appointment, which makes for good relations.

    I’m so excited. I’ve never been, like, giddy over an election before. Probably because everything felt so hopeless in 2004. And before that I was too young to care much (well, except for the Florida b.s. in 2000).

  59. I early voted for Obama on Thursday. I did sit in the voting booth for a few minutes thinking seriously about voting for McKinney. I live in Hawaii. Obama’s going to win Hawaii because it’s always a blue state and he’s from here. But ultimately I decided that I wanted Obama to win more than I wanted to make a political statement, and sometimes voting is about personal integrity. Besides, I also think it’s pretty fucking awesome that I got to sit in a voting booth and vote for a mixed race man for president of the US.

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