Saturday, November 1, 2008

I voted for that one…

I tried to make a witty twitter tweet about this but twitter’s SMS feed seems hosed.

I spent nearly 90 minutes at the Brooklyn BOE waiting to vote absentee this afternoon. There were maybe 100 people gathered (there really wasn’t a line as much as a disorganized mass of slightly agitated people). The BOE seemed to be winging it on how to handle the crowd (I voted absentee in 2004 as well, about a week before the election, and there was no one there to vote).

You ask for an absentee ballot application, fill it out, hand it over. You get it back along with a numbered card. It’s very important to retain the card I’m told.

After about twenty minutes someone else came along and asked for the absentee ballot applications and told us to move to the end of the hallway where there was another waiting area with maybe 50 people already sitting.

My name was called after about an hour. They seemed to gather 10–15 people at a time to vote in a separate room, briefed us on the instructions, gave us blue ballpoint pens, and off to the ovals.

Not once was I asked for my blue card numbered #366.

I’m not sure who had the bright idea to test the fire alarm system at 345 Adams while people were voting but it added a certain charm to the affair.

The actual vote was underwhelming, I kind of wanted that satisfaction of pulling the lever this election but had to settle for filling in an oval on an unlikely–to–be–counted absentee ballot.

My choice was pretty much pre–ordained: I grew up in Illinois and have supported Barack Obama since 2003–2004.

I actually donated money to the McCain campaign in 2000 in some sort of hope he’d beat Bush. I respect the guy, his service in Vietnam, even his service in the Senate while not ignoring the corruption of the Keating Five scandal.

I’ve always voted for the Democrat in Presidential elections, but tend to mix and match at the local and state level.

For me it comes down to: who has the best vision for the entire country, not just a narrow sliver? Who has the best experience managing an operational staff? And whom do I feel “good” about?

And I just don’t think John McCain has run a good campaign. His surrogates use racism, rely on language straight out of Lenin–Stalin tracts. His choice of Sarah Palin offended me at a very raw level: there are many far more experience conservative, Republican women he could have chosen. I still would not have voted for him, but like George HW Bush, would respect him as a President.

I don’t like George W. Bush. I think his administration has been an embarrassment to this country, and has embarrassed this country in the eyes of the world. For someone elected* with such a narrow margin of victory to craft and run one of the most partisan governments since the 1800s just disgusted me. The constant refrain of “No one could have foreseen…” appalled me. I don’t believe the conspiracy theories, but I do blame the administration for the Saudi terrorist attacks of 9/11. They had such a blind rage, such a hard–on for finding a reason to attack Iraq that they ignored multiple warnings and signals of the impending act. We will never know if it could have been prevented.

For six of the past eight years the GOP had control of all three branches of government. To whine now that Democrats some how blocked reforms in the past two years ignores the window of opportunity that the Congress and President failed to use. Congress under GOP leadership utterly failed the American People in serving as a check on the Executive branch.

I am not naïve. There will be a leftward shift for the next two years. My personal taxes will increase. But you know what? I would rather pay another $10 in taxes, or $100, or even $1000 if that meant better trains, streets, sewers.

We own the government, the government is us. It is not some foreign entity which swung in and took control. Government is a corporation owned by the People, managed by the People, answerable to the People. It should serve us, protect us, and yes, keep us in line. And over time we have shifted to funding our Government ourselves, through a variety of taxes, instead of prior dependence on tariffs on trade. And as that shift has occurred we have prospered.

So to make the central tenet of your campaign to cut taxes, to whine about the other candidate’s plans for spending, to do so in the aftermath of Katrina, of the Minneapolis bridge failure, of 9/11 — to do so comes across to me as the height of ignorance and arrogance.

In the 1980s, the Reagan Administration pioneered the model of the modern GOP: cut taxes but increase spending and rely on debt sales to fund operations. It used to be that governments could and would only rely on debt for infrastructure: bridges, tunnels, roads, trains, airports. Instead we get the worst: a high debt load and dis-investment in our nation's infrastructure.

The GOP has sung the same “we’ll cut your taxes” song for years. I’ll believe it when they start by cutting spending first. Cut programs, cut spending, revert to the Pay–Go model.

I don’t know that Barack Obama will win on Tuesday. In fact I have a sick sense in my gut that he will not — I lived in Western Pennsylvania for six years and I believe there are many, many Democrats who will vote for McCain even if it costs them their jobs and their lives, instead of “voting for that one”.

I voted for “that one.”

I grew up in Illinois. In the white–collar suburbs of Downers Grove, Naperville, Lisle. At the time they were really white collar. Blacks lived in “the City”, whites lived in the ’burbs. And when we’d go into “the City”, we’d be warned about “those people.” And we all knew what was meant.

I forgot about this part of my past for years. I moved around, to Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh, to Poughkeepsie, eventually ending up in New York.

New York is pretty cosmopolitan. We’ve got whites, blacks, Jews, Hindus, Catholics, Buddhists, Italians, Irish — why all sorts of “those people” living, working, cöexisting together. And I kind of like it.

But when John McCain used that phrase “that one” in one of the debates, it really touched a raw nerve for me. It reminded me of the Chicago I grew up in and with, it reminded me of something someone close said to me as recently as the last five years: watch out when you drive on I–57 because “those people” use it a lot.

I was flummoxed: I had no idea what this person meant. I had to ask: what do you mean by “those people” …which resulted in a few more attempts at clarification without actually saying “you know, Black people”.

And I was floored, because this was from someone whom I’d never expected, nor heard, the slightest rascist statement from, ever.

It’s quiet, it’s subtle, it’s unspoken, but it’s there.

And it comes from a place and apparently country which I’m just not familiar with.

Earlier this year in the primary I supported and voted for Hillary Clinton. At the time I had some doubts about Obama’s readiness to manage a large, fractious, complex organization. But the way he managed his campaign through the primaries and now through the general election has wiped away those doubts entirely.

I personally believe that the Presidency is not about experience in Washington. Experience with people, yes. Experience managing people and people–level politics: yes. Experience interacting with organizations, managing disparate issues to differing levels of interest, keeping aware of issues while delegating appropriately: yes. It’s also about leadership: there’s the way and I’ll take you there. It’s about decisions: can the candidate take in the various opinions, facts, ideas, issues, etc. and distill them into a cogent decision which is in the best interests of the country?

So, this ended up being a lot longer than 140 characters. I voted for Barack Obama and hope you do too. He is not satan. He is not a muslim. He is not a socialist. He’s not Malcolm X’s long lost son. He’s just a guy from Kansas and Hawai‘i who went to school at Harvard and Columbia and worked in community service and taught law at the University of Chicago.

Normally you’d think the Republicans would cheer a good Christian who rose up from a common background to become Senator and eventually run for the Presidency. I guess they don’t like that he’s from Chicago.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:00 GMT on 1-Nov-2008 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [0]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

12.11.2008


12.11.2008, originally uploaded by epc.

Semi–daily dogs

flickr posted this at 13:53 GMT on 12-Nov-2008 . , Comments [0]

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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