Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Barack to the future

By Carl

I went to vote today.

I got to my polling place at 7:15 am. I like voting early. I like getting home at night and knowing I've fulfilled my obligations for the day.

Normally, I vote somewhere around 7:45. Usually it's me, the poll workers and maybe one or two poll watchers, depending on how tight the local races are. My district is reliably Democratic, more so as it has become something of a haven for artists.

I get to talk to the poll workers, usually ladies of a certain age in my neighborhood who make a few bucks by jotting down numbers on a card and a sheet of paper and wishing you well. Sometimes, I'll bring coffee because I know they've been there since 5 or so, and have a long dead stretch of time until 9 or 10 pm.

Usually, I'm voter number four in my ED. In NYC, we divide our precincts up into Assembly Districts and then Election Districts. That means my ED is basically the four square blocks around my house. My immediate neighborhood is a mix of deeply blue-collar homeowners, one or two who are pretty Republican, and a large dollop of single men and women, with a sprinkling of young families. Usually, this means I'm one of the first people up in the morning, nevermind out and voting.

My polling place is the local elementary school. On a good day, say when Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, there might be twenty people voting at any one time that early.

Today, I had heard rumours that the turnout was already gearing up to be spectacular. That's why I decided to get there early. I wanted to witness it.

In one ED, just one, there were some seventy five people lined up when I got there. Think about it: usually, twenty people across something like 20 EDs. Today, 75 in just one. I was fortunate. It wasn't mine. I did have to stand in line.

I was voter number 25 in my ED. Remember, I'm usually a half hour later and number four or so. Six times as many voters in three-fourths the time in my ED alone.

I get the sense there's a welling up in this nation. A repudiation of the evil attempts to take this nation back to a time when things were better... for white men.

I'm not sure what finally woke America up. Katrina? Perhaps. Iraq? Possibly. September 11 and the watered down accusations of the 9/11 Commission's report? Likely.

Somewhere along the line, Americans looked at government-by-Republican and said "enough". In drips and drabs, to be sure. We'll put up with a lot, and will be very forgiving, very... Christian.

There is, however, an undeniable momentum to the future, towards progress. We are, to coin a phrase, heading Barack to the Bridge to the 21st Century.

I can write this on election morning, November 2, with the results unknown, much less unannounced, because frankly, it doesn't really matter. Obama can win, Obama can lose, but this boulder will not endure Sisyphian efforts to roll it up the hill of reactionary thinking any longer, it will flatten those who choose to get in its way. If Obama somehow manages to lose this election -- no matter, in 2012, Hillary will prevail. There is no stopping this motion. The inertia is too great.

If Obama loses, it just means the right wing has thrown John McCain in front of the rock to momentarily bounce it around a bit, but McCain with a fully Democratic congress, and a GOP torn asunder, will be less of an impediment than many on the right would wish.

In 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004, I had hoped that America would finally see the sham being foisted upon them by the Republican party, shackling us to our jobs and to an indentured servitude of lifelong indebtedness while the government does nothing for the "little guy", the "Joe the Plumbers" of America. It worried me that, as we rode deeper and deeper into the abyss, as Republican leaders became less and less coy about the rapine of America's bounty, that Americans might wait until it's too late.

And indeed, they may have. It might be impossible to pull our great and wondrous nation back from the brink. But we have a chance. We have hope.

We have change. And I have never been prouder to be an American than I was to be voter number 25 this morning.

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