Friday, November 7, 2008


I was outside the storm, working at a pollsite in a relatively small, reasonably diverse district in mid-town San Diego.

(Brief aside: I can’t exhort you all strongly enough to put in to work at your local precincts, for elections at any level. Even here, in San Diego, the Registrar of Voters is hurting for multi-fluent and non-senior workers, if the training seminars are any indication. And to appeal to anyone’s mercenary side, I made $145, so it’s not exactly a day wasted, either. Ok, aside over.)

As poll workers, we purposefully didn’t track much of the election throughout the day. Neither did we encounter the long lines nor inflamed passions that seemed to spring up in other areas of the country, or even the county; while a couple of No on 8 supporters got "uncomfortably close" to our site for a couple of observers, we didn’t have any real dust-ups. During a break on the action, I voted — Yes for Obama, No on 8, if you’re keeping score at home.

I didn’t really start asking for updates until the evening, when our turnout tapered off (though it was higher than usual). I didn’t really exhale until it was over, until it was called at 11 EST — I remember Mexican politics of the ’80s, after all. After we closed our site and sent two other workers to turn in the ballots to the registrar, I walked home, alone, and couldn’t help but wonder at the quiet. There were no impromptu celebrations, no whooping it up, not even any sadness for McCain around me. Just a neighborhood league softball game at a nearby field. I knew something was in the air, around me. I just didn’t feel connected to it. I felt ... well, here's what I wrote on Racialicious that night:

I am thankful, but I am also angry. Sure, it’s an electoral ass-kicking, but the fact remains that 47 percent of America voted for fear-mongering. For race-baiting. For naked class discrimination. For electoral fraud and robo-calls and “I ain’t votin’ for no HOO-SEIN” and “Osama Bin Biden” sales. For the single least qualified candidate and the single most disastrous campaign in recent history. For Joe The Plumber and Fear Of ACORN and Fear Of That One. I am happy, but angry — it should never have even been in doubt to begin with once that petty, destructive rash of shit politics began. And the fact that it was only brought closer to the light some truths that you’d think we had moved past. I am happy but I am also angry, and a little sad, because it almost worked again. And I have faith in this President, and in the fact that we’re here. But with it comes vigilance, ’cause you can bet anything that the Karl Roves and Steve Schmidts and Michelle Bachmanns of the world are already plotting to take it all back.

Two nights and three days later, though, I'm starting to feel better, in a bittersweet way. As news broke of Obama's victory, people the world over danced in the streets, and in Santiago, Chile, R.E.M. rang in the news by reaching back into its' own youthful past for this song, "I Believe."

As the celebration began worldwide, however, the rights of gay men and women in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas and here in California took serious hits. That particular fight only looks to be getting started. (Quick plug: I invite you to join the group discussion of Prop. 8 over at Racialicious.)

But even in these setbacks, there is hope. At least in California. An analysis of state exit polls indicates that the very youth Prop. 8 purported to "protect" rejected it, a generation now emboldened, pissed off, and organizing. The kids, to put it lightly, will be alright. Which reminds me of another song called "I Believe," this one by Joe Satriani:

I believe in my dreams, indeed.