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Lost in a lot of the jubilance from last weeks momentous electoral victory is one big loss. It comes in the form of an audacious proposition in California called Prop 8 and it’s goal is to eliminate same-sex marriages from California. Not too long ago, the California Supreme Court issued a decision to make all marriages legal, regardless of sexual orientation. Now, because of a highly funded campaign by members of various churches, and a slight majority of the people in CA, that right has been revoked through referrendum.
This is a terrible travesty for California and for the country as a whole. This proposition was not to allow same-sex marriages that then got defeated. This was a proposition to revoke a right that has already been conferred. The people of California had been experiencing life with gay marriage for a number of months already… I didn’t see anyone’s life or hetero marriage utterly destroyed by that fact (as the supporters of 8 claimed). Now though, many lives will be affected. Many people who want to have the chance to commit their love for one another have no ability to do that now.
All to protect the so-called ‘sanctity of marriage’? Give me a fucking break. In a culture where one-night stands and 50% divorce rates are common-place, you are crying about the ‘sanctity of marriage’? In a culture where not 50 years ago, a black man could not marry a white woman, you are worried about preserving the tradition of marriage? In a country where the parents of our president-elect could not have been married in at least 17 states when their son was born, on the day of the election of that man to the presidency, and on the day of our highest racial barrier broken, you are actively trying to dial back civil rights that would progress this nation further? Is this really your agenda, with so much going on in the world?
I honestly don’t know what else to say, other than it is a terrible moment in civil rights history, on an otherwise groundbreaking occasion. Keith Olbermann devoted his special comment to it last night on Countdown, and I’ll just let him speak for me:
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I’m still getting chills writing President-Elect Obama, but watching the speech from election night usually helps…
Also, if you want to relive the whole night, as it played out on TV, here’s a nice wrap up, which, once again, brought tears…
Finally, here’s a video that my good pal Maital did over her month here in NC. It features one or two of my photos at the end as well:
Poster available now on cafepress.
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At about 6:45 on election night, 45 minutes before the close of the polls on a cold, dark, and rainy day, Amanda and I headed out to our final push for those last couple votes. We went to a big, primarily African-American apartment complex off Wake Forest Road in East Durham after being dispatched from the home of Faulkner Fox and Gunther Peck (more on that later…). We had a pack of names and addresses, but decided to forego the lists and the literature and just blind-knock every door we could, looking for those last couple of stragglers. Again, as has been the usual during all of my canvassing journeys, most people were upset about some random person knocking on their door during dinner-time, but once we said we were from the Obama campaign, they flashed a smile and happily came to the door. Almost everyone we talked to had already voted. Many of them were excited we were there, even though their doors had likely been knocked a handful of times already since Saturday. Some wanted to shake our hands. Some wanted to talk politics. But everyone was upbeat about the prospect of the Obama win that was hours away.
Finally, we found an apartment of two young women (maybe in their 30s) who were sitting around enjoying their after-work, early evening beers and looking forward to watching the results. Cassandra and Janiqua seemed excited about Obama, but when we asked them if they had voted yet, they said they hadn’t. We asked them what the hell they were waiting for and encouraged them to vote. Since they didn’t have cars, they didn’t think they could get there. So we said, get some clothes on, get a jacket on, and get in my car – we’ll take you right now. Surprised that we had offered, they took us up on it, and in a flurry of jackets and chugging their final beers, we got them to the car and to the polls, with about 20 minutes to spare. Janiqua was a first time voter, and at the polling location that we took them to, the poll workers all erupted in cheers and rounds of applause for each new voter. They both explained that they were very thankful that we came to pick them up and give them that last ride of the day so that one day they could tell their kids that they were able to vote for the first African-American president.
About an hour or two prior to that, at the Durham for Obama headquarters, aka Faulkner’s home, there was a mob scene. When we arrived late that afternoon, there were probably about 30 people out on the front porch, another handful in the living room doing data entry and tapping away on computers and looking at maps, another five or so in the kitchen helping with food and drinks for the volunteer army, and probably another 20 or 30 out on the front pathway waiting to get in and get to work. Durham Academy students had recently gotten out of school and about 15 or 20 students, probably all too young to vote, were lining up to volunteer. When we finally got up to the front door to sign in, the volunteer estimated proudly that they were approaching about 500 volunteers for the day at that one location. Keep in mind that this was one of three or four different staging locations just for West Durham (there were 14 different staging locations for all of Durham). At the point when we arrived, every single pack had been walked at least once, every single door of a registered, not-yet-voted voter had been knocked multiple times, and volunteers were flooding precincts that were showing less than perfect turnout. Volunteers were being told not to come back to the staging location. To take their packs, knock every door, give a ride to any voter, and when they finished the pack, to start all over again on door one, and hit every door again and again and again until every single voter had voted.
Needless to say, the ground operation in Durham was staggering, and we certainly did turn out our vote. Durham County, as usual, was the most pro-Obama in North Carolina (Tarheels – nice job, but you guys got a close second) with a final vote breakdown of 76% Obama, 24% McCain, with turnout just cracking 76% (the highest turnout since at least ’94 – couldn’t find data from before that). And it wasn’t as if it wasn’t worth it. As of about noon today, two days after the election, the AP and NBC have finally called North Carolina for Barack Obama and colored in the state in a nice shade of blue (Duke blue or Tarheel blue, depending on the station/website – either way is fine with me – sorry NC state). As of this writing, the margin in North Carolina is 14,053 out of 4.25 million votes cast. The margin is so close, that in addition to being the second to last state called in the election (MO still close, though McCain seems to have the lead), the final percentage breakdown was 49.86% Obama to 49.53% McCain. How satisfying to know, in real numbers, and in real concrete-ness, that those 1000+ doors that I knocked actually had a real effect on this election. That is truly the most incredible feeling.
On election night, we went out to the Barack’n'Roll Party in downtown Durham, and watched the returns down there for a bit before returning back to the apartment to pop the champagne and watch Obama’s momentous speech. Watching his speech, and experiencing this moment in real-time made me pretty emotional. I welled up a bit listening to him speak to the nation and the world. Even yesterday, watching the news and replays of some of the pieces of his speech still made me misty-eyed… I’m having trouble, being more of a stream-of-consciousness writer than an actually-talented author, articulating what I’m feeling, but I do know that what we experienced the other night was incredible, moving, and a night for the history books.
If you got a newspaper yesterday, congrats, because there were none to be found anywhere I went looking.
PS – If you like the poster below, and want to order one, you can get them here at Cafe Press, printed on a nice glossy poster at around 16″x19″, or just navigate to http://www.cafepress.com/barack_wins.
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Purchase Poster – purchase 16″x19″ poster on nice glossy poster paper
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So, I guess, being a “blogger” on election eve, it is my humble duty to provide you with my predictions for tomorrows election outcome. Let me just first say, we’re gonna win. The question now is by how much, and where. I did a couple of different scenarios, and I’m not even sure as I write this how it will all shake down, but it’s not all that surprising (at least to me) that I have no idea what I’m going to write as I write it…
So here goes…
First of all, lets look at what a bare bones victory would look like. I think at the very minimum, Obama’s path of least resistance to a win would be all the states that John Kerry won, plus NM, IA, and CO or VA, yielding 273 or 277 Electoral Votes, respectively (a little too close for comfort). If we don’t see VA, OH, FL, or NC go blue early in the night (or, worst case, PA), we could have a more stressful evening than I’d like. However, I don’t think either of those barebones scenarios will happen, because I think he will do better than that. I’d say if he has a bad night tomorrow, for god knows what reason (Bradley Effect?), it would look like this:
Ok, not too shabby – so a bad night would be 291 EVs. What would a ridiculously blown-out, GOP-goes-into-the-wilderness-never-to-be-seen-again-in-a-generation, landslide victory look like?
Thats 401 EVs, and while it would be really freakin sweet to see those EVs hit the 400 mark, I also don’t think that’s going to happen. Georgia, Montana, West Virginia, and North Dakota remain somewhat longshot, and Missouri and Indiana still lean towards McCain. He has a decent chance of picking off a couple of these on ground game alone, perhaps his best chance could be Georgia, where early voting has been completely off the charts, especially in the African-American community. Missouri has a history of being a bellwether state, and has been red for the majority of the election, but is trending back to blue of late. Perhaps the folks of Missouri want to retain their bellwether status, and, sensing an Obama victory, may just vote for him to keep the namesake. Indiana has also been on the cusp as of late, and could follow suit if the numbers continue to exceed expectations.
So with all that in mind, I present my final prediction:
I probably should take NC off the list, but having volunteered in the state, I cannot. So there you go, 353 Electoral Votes.
I also think we could see upwards of 140 million votes cast, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we get over 150 (in 2004, 125 mil were cast).
If you are watching the news tomorrow night as the returns come in, the story will not be how Obama wins – it will be about the Senate seats, where we have a longshot chance of coming away with a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Flipping VA, CO, AK, NH, OR and NC brings us to 58 seats. Minnesota remains a complete dark-horse because of a tight race between former comedian Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman because of a third party candidate, Barkeley, who is polling in the low double digits. It’s likely that a lot of that support will peel off to Franken and Coleman, but no one really has a clue how it will break down. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Franken’s from before he decided to run for Senate – he used to host a really smart and funny radio show on Air America that I listened to religiously, so I sincerely hope he wins this seat, which would bring us to 59. The 60th seat will be very tough, and will likely come from GA (on the heels of an Obama victory there… possibly), KY (where taking out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would be downright cathartic to the party, and devastating to the GOP leadership), and MS (where a tight race is keeping Musgrove in the running against sneaky 1-year appointed incumbent Wicker). I think the best chance of these three would be a Martin victory over Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, on the heels of an epic turnout, especially by the African-American demographic. However, the interesting part of this race is that in GA, if a candidate doesn’t get above 50%, a runoff election will occur in a month or so. With a third party candidate and a close race, if Chambliss can’t close the deal, all eyes (and a shitload of cash and appearances from President-elect Obama) will be on Georgia for the next month, and Martin has a good chance in the runoff.
God I hope Liddy Dole loses.
Sixty seats would be nice, but the truth is, there are a couple of pretty moderate Republican Senators like Dick Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Spector who probably won’t be filibustering an Obama agenda anyway, so we should be OK regardless.
Also, I expect Dems to pick up about 25 or so seats in the House, which would give us a strong majority in that chamber as well. Neither should have enough to automatically overturn a veto, but honestly, who cares about that – I don’t think either chamber is going to be picking a fight with Obama anytime soon.
So there it is, in all its magnificent glory.
If you can take the day off work tomorrow and volunteer, that would be awesome. If not, just make sure you vote. But either way, enjoy our day of democracy, and raise a toast to (fingers crossed) President-Elect Obama tomorrow night.
Finally, if you are in Durham, rain or shine darkness, head downtown for what promises to be a pretty sweet election night party. There will be a big screen TV projection at the intersection of Corcoran and Parish, across from Blue Coffee, and god knows what else going on down there. I just also heard a rumor that there will be media crews there filming for the national feeds to CNN and ABC – you know, like during the debates and primaries and such where they’d look in on whats going on in Ohio or some guys living room or whatever – yea that’d be us.
Woo! Yes we can! Lets do it!
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First of all, VOTE. Second of all, VOLUNTEER.
Forget fundraising, forget blog-reading, forget hand-wringing, forget the news, forget the polls.
It’s time to get out there and help Obama win. I’ve been canvassing for almost a month. It’s easy. Now you can do it. Take an hour after work tomorrow to make some phone calls. Take the day off work on Tuesday and get the vote out. These last days of volunteering are the easiest of them all. All of the canvassing and data mining and information culling over the last year or so has identified all of the Obama voters. Now its just up to us to make sure that every last one of them gets to the polls. This isn’t going out and trying to convince anyone. This is just making sure our voters get their votes in and counted. So hit that widget thing, and lets get out the vote.
I’ll probably not have much time to post between now and Tuesday, but if you are in Durham, hit up downtown on Tuesday night for the Barack ‘n’ Roll party in the streets. Should be a bang.
And if you need some motivation or inspiration, here’s a photo taken at a staging location in Durham (not even the main office – this is someone’s house!) around 8 pm tonight after we finished canvassing:
Yes we can.
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So this last week has been a whirlwind of surrogate appearances. Although initially I was planning on spending most days knocking doors, last week I was almost exclusively in charge of organizing and planning a couple of surrogate events on Duke’s campus. Let me just first say, these appearances are absolutely insane. We typically find out about an appearance by a surrogate no more than 48 hours before they are scheduled to be there, and have to create an event, organize whatever we need for the event, and then somehow drum up a crowd so it doesn’t look really sad when 10 people show up for a famous surrogate. As the pictures will show, we got more and more daft at accomplishing these tasks as the week went along…
So on Monday we had Deirdre Lovejoy, Jamie Hector, and Chad Coleman, or, as my Baltimore cohorts and Wire enthusiasts probably know them, State Attorney Rhonda Pearlman, West Baltimore Drug Lord Marlo Stanfield, and Street Thug turned Boxing Coach Cutty from the Cut! Our plan for the day was to set them up around a table on the main quad and accost anyone nearby to come meet the cast and listen to what they had to say. But the weather had other ideas in mind, and it was a on-and-off drizzly, and damn cold afternoon. So needless to say, our passerby travel was severely limited by the fact that most students had no interest in standing around in the cold… Which was fine for us Wire fans like me, because it became basically a meet and greet event, with no real stump speech or anything, and we could just talk to the cast openly about anything we wanted. Deidre (Attorney Pearlman) was super nice and fun, and loved the flyer I made for their appearance so much that she made me autograph it (sweet). Jamie (Marlo) was pretty cool, and talked not just about his appearances on the Wire, but also his recent role on Heroes. He even gave a subtle hint about another co-cast member on both the Wire and Hero, Bubbles, who we may not have seen the last of on Heroes. Cutty from the Cut was really intense and pretty much exactly like he is in the Wire, listening intently and intelligently to anything anyone was saying. Cool event, not many people, but I was psyched to meet the cast, so that was sweet. CUTTY from the CUT!
Then on Tuesday, Edie Falco, who plays Carmela Soprano on the Sopranos, came to campus. We drew up a slightly larger crowd on Tuesday for her event – maybe an indication that the Sopranos is more of a hit than the Wire… Her appearance was a bit more structured – she actually gave a speech to the waiting crowd before then mingling with the group and encouraging people to go volunteer and vote.
Wednesday obviously was Obama-day, which you can read about right below this post.
Thursday was our biggest and most successful surrogate appearance. We had Representative David Price (NC-04), Joe Biden’s sister Valerie Biden-Owens, and actress/activist Ashley Judd. I’ll let you guess who was the big crowd generator. It also probably helped that the Obama campaign itself sent out a message to all of North Carolina about the Biden/Judd tour, which was going all over the state yesterday and today. So sensing that we would probably have a much bigger deal than our two low-key appearances, we needed to step things up for this one. So we moved the appearance to the Plaza, scrounged around OSAF for a podium and PA system (thanks OSAF!) and put up a bunch of posters and flyers and really grew the crowd. The news showed up, and the crowds showed up, and (finally, a little late) Biden-Owens and Judd showed up. David Price gave a good stump speech, but I’ve seen him like 3 times in the last couple weeks, so it was nothing new. He’s a good speaker and got people fired up, so thats always good. Biden-Owens, however, seemed to have the wrong speech in her little binder. She talked a lot about family, and work, and her father, and other issues that would be more well-served in a general community address or perhaps a speech at a retirement home, but certainly not a college-audience speech. Luckily, Judd then took the stage, and, even though it only took her about 30 seconds to take a dig at Duke basketball (she’s a big Kentucky fan), the rest of her speech was fantastic. She talked movingly about how she came to support Obama. She talked about her experience at Invesco Field at the DNC and how she wept with her grandmother at the enormity of the situation. She talked about her passion for justice and activism and equality, and the work that she’s done with her group with AIDS prevention. And she even let us know that she’s planning on taking the GRE next weekend and going back to graduate school! She was a truly inspiring speaker, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well-spoken she was and how insightful into the importance of the election she was. The crowd was huge, taking up the majority of the width of the Plaza, and everyone was really happy with the event.
Ok, so now its time to get to work. As a bonus, I took two posters I made, printed them out on 40 or so 8.5×11 sheets of paper, and patched them together into two huge posters on campus… Check ‘em out: