Why today is so important.
I voted early, as I posted in an earlier entry, but I saved my “I Voted” tag to wear today. 🙂
Durham County in NC has had unprecedented participation in the 2 weeks of early voting prior to today, the Big Day. Almost 70% of those that voted in 2000 in Durham cast their ballots early. With this morning’s turnout, it tells me that enthusiasm for change is in the air. Even though my state is predicted to go Red, it is going to be close. I still hold out a bit of hope that there could be a Kerry upset.
This AM, while driving to work (around 7:30), I passed a school and the lines were out the door and down the sidewalk, and the cars were still pulling into an overflowing lot. I couldn’t believe it. All of my friends were speculating that because of the explosion of early votes at only 4 polling places, that today lines would be manageable since all the precinct stations would be open. We were wrong.
Everyone knows how important this race is.
I stopped by a Hardee’s to get an iced tea to wake myself up, and I held the door for several elderly black women that came in with me, and they all had their “I Voted” stickers on. One spotted mine and said “I’m proud to wear this today — it’s my badge of courage.” She was beaming.
Voting here has gone smoothly. There’s been no scandals of voter intimidation or hanky panky with technical issues. Durham uses the optical scan technology (where you fill in a ballot connecting an arrow to indicate your choice, and you insert it into the scanner). The only matter of concern was the fact that the ballot itself was potentially confusing. There is an option to vote a straight party line on the ticket, but what could throw a voter off is that the non-partisan judicial races and the presidential choice itself do not count if you voted this way. You have to mark those arrows separately to vote in those races. The local PACs have been telling all voters not to use the straight ticket option and to take the time to mark for each race. Voting guides handed out at the polling stations alert people to this as well.
So, our democracy, from the location at which I type this, is working. I feel less confident about this process as I read about what is going on around the country. I am particularly disheartened, but not surprised, by some of the tactics the GOP is using to scare or intimidate voters away from the polls. Passing out flyers with false information that blacks cannot vote if their parking tickets aren’t paid up. Phone calls to voters with gay-baiting messages that a Kerry win will guarantee gay marriage. That’s particularly prevalent where super DOMAs (defense of marriage amendments) are on the ballot. This is the GOP’s get out the vote effort. It’s sad, and antithetical to the principles our country was founded on.
It’s time for a change. So much has gone wrong in the last four years, it’s hard to know where to start. Just a sampling…
* The Iraq war. Yeah, we took out the wrong guy. It’ll cost us $300 billion, and we aren’t ready for another military confrontation because we are overdeployed. A draft may be around the corner.
* The abuse of our National Guard and our troops. Endless tours of duty, not enough armor for Humvees or their bodies, not enough ammo or working equipment. How can Bush ask these citizen soldiers to bear this burden and say he supports the troops? There were no WMDs.
* The abuse at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib . Apparently, this administration doesn’t feel the Geneva Conventions apply to the U.S. in the War Against Terror. I hope they like it as we see more heads literally roll and our soldiers are captured and tortured as we set a good example for our enemies.
* The Patriot Act and its gutting of our rights. Ashcroft and Co. can watch where we surf, enter our homes without notifying us, and detain indefinitely anyone with a suspicious-sounding name that ends up on their list. And this is how they would like to safeguard our freedom? And they’re just getting started.
* Airport non-security: The world is insane if you can still legally take cigarette lighters on the plane to light your shoe bomb, people still manage to get machetes and weapons aboard a plane, and your 90-year-old granny gets to be strip searched in the terminal.
* Culture of greed (i.e. Halliburton, Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, et. al.). Kenny Boy Lay and his minions are not doing hard time, and people have lost their pensions, jobs and respect for the companies they toiled for. When you have companies like Enron profitting from the power crisis in California, and Halliburton winning blood-money, no-bid contracts in Iraq that fleece the taxpayer, and companies relocating offshore to avoid taxes, that’s scandalous. The Bush admin has done nothing to stop this.
* The explosion of HIV transmission in minority communities. All but ignored is the explosion of HIV in heterosexual black women. It’s getting little attention by either party, but Bush has had four years to ignore the problem. Trust me, if this was spreading in the boardrooms of America, it would be priority #1.
* The hijacking of the Republican party by religious zealots. The Bush admin has embraced the extreme right and its belief that tolerance is relative, based on whether you are born again. These people see no dividing line between church and state and Bush has appointed people like John Ashcroft that see no reason to stop this trend.
* The incessant attempts to write discrimination in our Constitution. Marriage is both a civil and religious institution. There is no reason to attempt to either amend the constitution to add discrimination against gays, or to even, as Congress tried this summer, prevent it from being heard judicially. This is hate, and the Bush administration has fostered it for political gain. With the balance of the Supreme Court as fragile as it is, a Bush re-selection is a frightening prospect.
President Bush and his campaign have accused John Kerry of doing “anything to win.” Funny, it seems that’s been their goal since day 1 — this administration has a difficult relationship with the truth.
* Swift Boaters — they didn’t denounce them when caught in lies.
* Bush’s own questionable past — his draft dodging time in the Texas Air National Guard is so shaky that even today, there are “long-lost” papers about his record still dribbling out. He’s no hero.
* The debates — I lose count of the number of lies told by Bush and Cheney. From the ridiculous — “I didn’t meet you till you walked on stage tonight (Cheney to John Edwards)” to Bush’s easily debunked claim that he never said that he didn’t give much thought about Osama.
It’s as if lying is the status quo for this administration, regardless of whether the prevarications can be disproven. It’s shameless and makes you wonder about the litany of lies we’ve been told about matters of actual consequence — such as those surrounding WMD, the Patriot Act, and so many other issues.
In sum, whatever faults John Kerry may have as a person or politician, the man has served his country honorably, and is more than capable of handling the job. That is the one thing Karl Rove or Dick Cheney cannot convince any clear-minded person of regarding George W. Bush.
Please let it be Kerry in a landslide.
I pray that our country, so divided on so many political and social issues, can heal after this election. I am not confident that this will happen, since our news and media culture has evolved to thrive on conflict and polarization as sport. I can only hope that violence will not occur on either side.
I’ll end with a quote from Rush Limbaugh, of all people, which sums up a good chunk of the electorate (though he was talking about the Left, of course), but it applies to the sad state of affairs today with the average Bush voter. And roughly half the country will be voting for him.
The people are too blind or too uninformed or too uneducated or too ignorant or too whatever to see the threat that faces them because they refuse to take a look at it. That’s the job that we all have. That’s what you do when you fight for your country: You fight for everybody in it.