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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


My hope in Democracy is restored, and not just because my candidate won, though that certainly helps. Today I’m feeling hopeful because Owen voted yesterday.

As I’ve mentioned here, I’ve been volunteering with Philadelphians Against Santorum, going door-to-door in my neighborhood, talking to new voters, young voters, and those who don’t always vote. Most of the people I spoke with on Sunday had already chosen Bob Casey, though some of them referred to him as “the other guy.” The most memorable encounter, however, was with a young man named Owen who told me, when I asked for him by name, “Oh, my parents are the ones for that.” I assured Owen that he was the one on my list and added, “No offense, but you look old enough to vote.” Owen admitted that he was but said lamely, “I’m not really the kind of person who votes.”

I can’t remember what I said next, but I know I resisted the temptation to ask him what kind of person didn’t care about the world enough to haul his butt down to the church for five minutes once every two years. Instead I said something about how important this election was and mentioned that Rick Santorum thought we should consider attacking Iran. I handed him a sheet comparing the candidates and moved on.

Last night we had a few volunteers in our precinct going door-to-door again, reminding people to vote. It seemed pointless after awhile. Most people were either not home or had already voted. But it was all worth it for the story that came back from Owen’s house. When a canvasser knocked on the door asking for Owen, his mother reported that he had already voted, for Bob Casey. “Someone came and talked to him the other day, and it made quite an impression on him,” she said.

Obviously it’s not just about Owen. What makes me hopeful is that in an era of expensive nasty ads and expensive computer models to target voters, the old fashion conversation between neighbors still makes a difference. I feel hopeful because we had more volunteers in our neighborhood last night than we knew what to do with. I feel hopeful because we had 66% turnout in our precinct, much higher than previous midterm elections. I also feel hopeful because so many of my neighbors smiled and said hello as I sat at the polls, while the Republican and Democratic poll watchers chatted amicably, sharing pizza and Halloween candy. And of course I feel hopeful because the great rightward swing in American politics seems to have begun its journey back to the center.
This morning I almost wore my “Barak Obama for President” t-shirt, but I decided to save that for next week.


Blogger naturalmom said...

Oh, what an uplifting story! Good for you -- and Owen. I have to admit that my only out-loud *cheer* of the evening was when I saw that Rick Santorum had been defeated. (The guy really scares me.) We had some nice wins here in Michigan too, but none that were unexpected.

As someone concerned about race relations, you might be interested to know that Michigan passed a constitutional amendment ballot proposal to ban affirmative action -- affecting both race and gender -- in all state education and hiring practices. (Very much like the bill California passed a few years ago.) While the election results in general are the most heartening for me in a long time, the passage of that bill was the one dark spot -- and a pretty significant one at that. :o( We'll have to wait and see what the long term results are, but I'm not optomistic. Besides going backwards on racial equality, it will also affect things people generally don't associate with affirmative action. Women and girls stand to lose a lot too.


11:55 AM  

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