Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Poll Workers Tango


Reading on a kindle at the Portland Airport.



You know you're a Democrat when you're already worrying about the 2010 elections.



My husband and I pulled a two-hour shift at a poll yesterday, standing with the sign of a colleague running for State Rep (not us in the pic and he did win).
It's an unusual situation-- when you and "rival" party workers are suddenly forced to stand shoulder to shoulder for a lengthy time without getting into a shouting match or acting uncivilly.

Instead, you try to find common ground, agree that the economy stinks and those mortgage companies and banks are evil. That our house values have plummeted, that the car industry is in big trouble, that the school system may have to lay off teachers.
What neither of us says aloud is that "our guy" would improve the situation.

We each let the conversation trail off at that point.

Because, after all, this campaign worker lives just a few blocks away from me; we'll see each other in Traders Joes or at the library.

We even offer to hold each other signs as we go to the bathroom, or get a drink. She offers me a chair; I offer her my cellphone.

We're neighbors in the end. We share more than we think. We want to get along. We all want to get along. It's been so long since we did.

27 comments:

debra said...

What a great day!!!! #1 daughter in NYC said that a friend bought a bottle of champagne and a bottle of whiskey---just in case. Glad to say they toasted with the bubbly. Hallelujah!

Todd Mason said...

You know, though I've been a voter registrar (in Hawaii) and a petitioner to get third party candidates on ballots (in Virginia), I've only once been a polling place advocate twice, once to help out my brother who was required by his high school social studies class to do some election work (we circulated a handbill that noted that one need not vote for any given office if there wasn't a candidate one liked--Virginia again), and once for the Greens (in Pennsylvania).

Todd Mason said...

I've only twice, I remembered too late and didn't quite revise my thought sufficiently. That is. Maverick! (Nader, that is.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Is it me, or is there anyone else who can't stop crying? Gotta stop listening to NPR.

John McFetridge said...

Neighbours, eh? So what you're saying is there isn't a red America and a blue America, there's only the United States of America.

You know, thinking like that, you could really go places.

Scott Parker said...

Regarding the 2010 elections: don't worry. In two years, the Dems have a chance to make some real changes. Let's be optimistic that they will. The only reason to worry about 2010 is if the Dems don't deliver. It's put-up or shut-up time. It's all in their hands. Let's aim high. It rarely happens that a president's first off-year election produces gains. It's possible to make history: again.

Todd Mason said...

Well, I'm dry-eyed. I'm waiting to be impressed by the Obama Admin, but I'm steeled for it to live down to my expectations. But, congratulations, Democrats!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Turn on NPR and listen to what this election means to African-Americans who had slaves as great grandparents. You'll cry then.

Todd Mason said...

Oh, I heard. You might remember, Patti, that I spring from a whole lot of people who were messed over in ways not identical but not fun, either (my parents, born on either end of the Appalachians, both lost their fathers as kids from the kinds of mistreatment and endangerment visited upon granite quarryers and coal miners)...and I've never been too much for symbolism over reality/policy.

Hey, I dug and supported the deeply flawed man, with the largely excellent platform, who led chants of "I Am...Somebody" and quoted the ancient Hebrew scholar by asking "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" Damn straight.

Glad more people are making some effort to catch up.

Todd Mason said...

Which is not meant to rain on anyone's parade.

Todd Mason, who also supported and voted for the conservative Douglas Wilder for Lt. Gov. and then Governor of Virginia, as the much better and necessary alternative to his typical-for-Virginia loony GOP opponents.

Which is to say, this doesn't seem to me a quantum leap so much as a next logical step. And now we'll see how it goes.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Todd-you are wonderfully complicated. And something in common with me. My great grandather died of black lung disease and his wife gave her children over to Girard College (in Philly) to raise.
My father was one of nineteen children raised by a cigar factory worker.

Todd Mason said...

Well, I'll take complicated over simple, but I think I'm pretty consistent, with luck not foolishly so. My father spent some time in an orphanage, as well...I was a relatively safe and well-cared-for kid in comparison, except for the more delightful peers and some abusive caregivers my .

Don't listen to DEMOCRACY NOW on Pacifica or else you'll tear up again...a young startled to find herself thrilled to wave a US flag for the first time, for example...I'm reminded of D. L. Hughley's confusion on his new CNN show last weekend, where he basically asked, if Obama wins, what excuse will I have? He won't need an excuse (there is plenty to be angry about), but some of the more facile assumptions are being shaken up, I hope.

John McFetridge said...

"live down to my expectations..."

I guess we all have pretty low expectations of politicians these days. Oh well, as long we hold them all to the same standards, that's life.

One thing I've noticed, though, looking at America from the outside is that there seems to be a much higher percentage of people who view their government as working against their best interests than in most other democracies.

I have no idea, maybe it does, but in most other democracies a larger percentage of people seem to have the idea that the government represents them and works for them.

Government is usually the only democratic institution we come across in our lives and yet often we hear people saying they would like it to be run like a (non-democratic) business.

If this election does anything to make people feel they are the government, that it can work for them and not against them and that's it's necessary to have a strong government to have a strong democracy, then that'll be enough.

Todd Mason said...

I don't hear too many people in the States say they'd like a less democratic government...quite the contrary. Our legendarily low voter turnout in most elections is due in large part to not having anyone (that they've heard of) stand up for most citizens.

What I fear is yet another sellout adminsitration managing to discourage broader participation much the way the combined forces of the Johnson Admin, the Daley machine, and the Humphrey campaign managed to do in '68...and the shooting of RFK didn't help, either...

tm said...

Among the bad signs already...did you happen to see how Biden and Palin had the same position on marriage rights for homosexuals...and the victory of the ridiculous proposition 8 in California (until, perhaps, it hit the courts).

pattinase (abbott) said...

John-Americans have been taught over the last thirty years to believe taxes are unnecessary and thus the government imposing them unnecessary too. This is the biggest legacy of the Reagan Administration.
Todd, we're still going to be as imperfect as ever.

Todd Mason said...

Patti, I prefer to think that the largest legacy of the Raygun Admin is the related one of disrupting as much competent (often not brilliant, but competent) government agencies and replacing them primarily with much more graft/kickback-generating Beltway Bandits...something with the looting of the current Admin is simply another logical development from.

tm said...

Or even, "as many competent government agencies as possible, and replacing them..."

tm said...

and "something which the current Shrub Admin has certainly furthered, in their looting." You'd think I'd at least look at these before sending. Sorry, folks.

John McFetridge said...

We can figure them out :)

And I appreciate you all for taking the time to help a Canadian better understand America. It's a complicated place but certainly the best possible neighbour.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And it went on and on, Todd. A joke-appoint people who don't care about their agency at all. Maybe it'll be better than you dare hope.
John-thanks for putting up with us. We're always the fat lady at the table, aren't we?

Christine said...

I was so dehydrated this morning, and not from drinking. From weeping. I wept for about 3 hours straight last night.

Lisa said...

I loved your post Patti, and I wasn't going to comment because today, just this one day I didn't want to tag on to the end of any negativity at all. I'm not a Pollyanna and I think once Obama takes office there will be many who are disappointed that he won't be all they'd hoped. But for the first time in my life, people in this country are celebrating a new leader and people all over the world are sharing in that celebration. Many of us who voted have felt betrayed by our government for the last eight years and many didn't start out that way, but did come to that place. Can the people who aren't happy about the election's outcome just give us this one day to be happy and maybe start complaining again tomorrow? Just a day.

ARCHAVIST said...

It inspiring how many Americans turned out to vote. Over here in the UK apathy seems to be the order of the day. Perhaps we'll follow the USA's lead next time I get off our arses and cast that all important vote.

History has been made in the US this week - I'm optimistic about the new president. The UK coverage has been massive and I think most of Europe are supporting him.

Way to go, USA.

Todd Mason said...

I'm not sure how my pointing out the continuing spinelessness of Joe Biden impedes anyone's celebration that a half-African-American President has been elected, but so be it.

Be happy. If you're a Democrat, your party won big. It ain't the Jubillee, and pretending it is is either a prescription for a crash later on, or the beginning of a Drinking the Flav-R-Ade, but it does promise relief from the blatant klepto-plutocracy of the Bush Admin (we hope) and the notion that racism defines the US, as opposed to being a bad aspect of all humanity at large...but don't take skepticism about those who are acting as if a Messiah is at hand as somehow Evil or even relevant to your happiness.

Todd Mason said...

Americans turned out to vote in great numbers in part because it was necessary to many to put as much distance as possible between the next admin and the current one. We don't usually have a government so inept and and so proud of its ineptitude. This time, we did...when you get another situation as bad there as we have here (and even the Brown Labour government isn't as blatantly anti-adept as the Bush Admin), you'll probably see voter totals rise, too. Well-organized registration efforts help, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Todd-You really do need to have a column somewhere. Every sentence you write is ten times more interesting than any one of mine.