Friday, November 05, 2004

Lost and found

We are still recovering, physically and emotionally. I find myself angrier than I was yesterday, though. I’m not sure that Bush actually won the election fair and square—isn’t it bizarre how those exit polls were totally off in those states where electronic voting is used? You don’t have to look far into that whole issue to be sickened by the fact that all 3 major companies that make electronic voting machines have major ties to right-wingers. (Some sites to check out are http://www.infernalpress.com/Columns/election.html, http://www.verifiedvoting.org, http://www.blackboxvoting.org.) If Bush did win fair and square, then that’s that. But why is there any reason to trust these private companies with our votes? Why is there any reason to think that they would be interested in being fair and in not delivering the votes for Bush? You can’t prove he didn’t steal it, since the code for the machines are kept secret. It’s a national shame that most people aren’t paying attention to. Have we lost our minds?

Sleep deprivation is a strange thing. I lost a check I was given as a bit of gratitude by the boss, though amazingly I found it on our floor shortly after I realized it was gone. I also lost an earring last night when I went to see my great aunt in Hollywood, and truly amazingly, I found it in the parking lot walking back to the car. Robert and I are wondering what I’ll lose and find next, following the common saying that things run in threes. I’m hoping we find the election victory… ha ha.

Today was my last day in the office, since I’m flying home to California tomorrow. We did what we could, though there is still a lot of work to do. You don’t wonder why 99% of the volunteers leave at or right after the election—clean up ain’t pretty. I wonder if things would have been different if we had won. Maybe more would have joined in the effort. I couldn’t help lamenting over all the work we had done that not only served no further purpose, but also had not served any purpose, really. If you believe the numbers, we never had a shot at this thing.

This afternoon we went to the mall, since the weather wasn’t good enough to go for a final boat ride. I cannot wait to get away from the humidity—though a cold front finally moved in today. I bought a big suitcase to serve in my next round of travels. It still feels strange that this chapter of my life is over. I still need time to digest it all. I am surprised, pleasantly, by how enriching the experience has been, despite the fact that we did not achieve our main objective. Participating in a losing campaign proves the old saying that life is about the journey, not the destination. I wish, as do all of you, I’m sure, that things could have turned out differently, but I don’t regret having come here. And that at least is my own mini-victory 2004.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Beat and brokenhearted

So I spoke to soon. I cannot believe that we lost. I don’t think it will sink in for a while, especially since extreme sleep deprivation has rendered my brain mush. I don’t know why I’m even attempting to stay awake, since I’m sure I could sleep for 12 hours if I decided to go to bed now.

I wanted to get something out there about my reaction, though I don’t plan to end the blog here. Like all Bush loathers, I’m shocked, devastated, and worried about where this country is headed. America has become a place that I do not understand and whose attitudes and policies I do not like. Supposedly we are free, and yet now it is possible—even likely—that the Supreme Court in the next four years will overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to pass laws that restrict or outlaw a woman’s right to chose. See those red states on the map? Imagine all the women who live there having to chose between an unwanted child and a coat hanger. Is this 2004 or 1504? Never mind the fact that Bush’s policies are hurting the environment and turning the world against us, thus increasing the likelihood that there will be some sort of global violent conflict. Bush undoubtedly interprets this win as affirmation that God wants him to be President, and that he is as infallible (does he know that word?) as he assumed he was all along. How could the majority of Americans think that Bush is right? But why do I even wonder? After all, Americans have elected some pretty yucky men to the highest office—Nixon, Regan, Bush 41. Fifty-nine million people can be wrong. I believe that history will prove that, but who knows how bloody and awful the lesson will have to be. Who knows how much all of us will suffer as a result.

Listening to Kerry’s concession remarks, I was angered by the idea that we should strive for unity. We do not agree with the Bush agenda at all—just because he got a few million more votes doesn’t mean that we should make nice. And it is political pandering for Kerry to suggest it. If I had to concede, I would confess that it breaks my heart why more Americans do not see the damage of Bush’s policies, not only to the world but to themselves. We know that Bush is lying when he says he is going to reach out to all Americans—he ran as a “uniter” last time and what did he do but ram his super-conservative agenda down all of our throats? With all due respect, Senator Kerry, I’ll keep my rancor. It’s all I have left now.

I find myself more upset about 2000 now than ever. Bush may have won this time (though do we really trust Diebold?) but he is still illegitimate in my eyes. Gore won both Florida and the popular vote last time, and he should have been President, thus Bush’s running for re-election is a result of his illegitimate accession to that office. This is why we should have fought harder in 2000. We should have taken it to the streets. I just cannot believe that with all the groups that mobilized against Bush, who must be the most hated President since Nixon, that we did not manage to defeat him. The reason why is that is a growing group of Americans that care more about denying the freedoms of women to choose and of gay people to form legal unions than anything else. This supposed “God first” agenda has essentially rendered the Democratic Party completely defunct in this country. Somehow we cannot get through to them on the economic issues because they see our secularism as off-putting. Moreover, the electoral college deters Democrats from even attempting to explain to these people how their religious beliefs are being exploited for the benefit of the rich and powerful—why bother changing anyone’s mind if you can’t change enough minds? That is the strategy that the electoral college forces upon both parties. Thus you cannot judge what appeal Kerry could have had, had he actually tried to convince all voters in the country, without regard to where they lived. It is sad to realize that some votes are worth a lot more than others. It would revolutionize elections if all votes were equal, and the presidency decided based purely on the electoral vote. The red and blue map is pretty stupid in that it implies there are no liberals in the middle of the country. This is not true—the map simply shows that they don’t have a majority. If our system wasn’t winner-take-all by state, then we could actually work on increasing support in those places. As it is now, Kerry probably never even visited many of them. What hope do we have of undoing the conservative brainwashing of America’s middle class if we automatically concede vast swaths of the country?

Cleaning out the office, as you can imagine, is sad work. I am sad not only because we lost, but because our operation was so unsatisfying on the level of organization. We did good, yes, but it wasn’t done in a manner that left unfulfilled my own craving for efficiency and order. I think I would feel better about losing if I thought we ran a tight ship. We were very wasteful, which is sad to begin with, but particularly bitter when you add the fact that it was all for naught, and is almost heartbreaking when you know that the environment will now be under siege by Bush’s policies for at least another 4 years, if not longer—you just know Jeb is going to run in 2008.

It is odd how everything we did is now irrelevant. All those preparations, the reams and reams of paper consumed by forms, flyers, campaign literature—suddenly good only for the recycling bin. The product of feverish preparations were now just detritus of the defeated.

I haven’t cried yet, but I’m not ruling it out. I think I will likely head to Europe sooner rather than later, as there is no inauguration to look forward to. (But first, I'm heading home to California for a visit.) So many volunteers are saying they are going to leave the country. I wonder if we could see a noticeable anti-Bush ex-pat movement spring up. I know we should stay here and fight, but how can you fight against the swelling evangelical fervor that is largely responsible for Bush’s popularity? There isn’t room for discussion with people who believe that the Bible is infallible, and who want to make their beliefs the law of the land, even if a majority of Americans don’t want them to be law. The majority of Americans, for instance, are pro-choice. But Bush doesn’t care. I’ll tell you what. I’ll make this compromise: I promise to return to America to take to the streets if (when?) the Supreme Court overturns Roe. I can’t imagine America taking that lying down. Maybe such provocation will finally shift the country out of this deadlock division; perhaps we have lost the election on the way to winning a revolution. Right now, it seems as if that is our only hope.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Victory Day!

What a birthday this is turning out to be. I’m barely functioning on just over a hour of sleep (3:30-4:30am). What took so long was preparing the 20 lines for the lawyers and the situation room; it must be Murphy’s Law to have the unexpected crop up when you start preparing too late in the game. But we delivered a functional situation room to coordinate county results and the “boiler room” for the legal team, which is really just a corner of the original main office space. Although I’m confident more voters want Kerry to be president, there are problems throughout the county, which isn’t good. I don’t want to go into too many details now, since I suppose it is privileged information of a sort.

I’ve spent most of the day hiding out in the copy room, since I don’t have the energy to deal with the chaos on the field side of the curtain. We have managed to keep the operations side relatively clear of unnecessary people, so it is comparatively calm here today. I’m too tired to feel bad about not running around like a crazy person. I figured I delivered when I had to, and my role now is more of support than initiation.

We gotta win, but once the polls close I’m taking a nap before going to stare down the news until the wee hours. I don’t have much hope we’ll have anything conclusive this evening, but at least we will be able to celebrate the end our very, very long haul. It feels surreal almost that we’re here, it really is Election Day. But that could be mostly the effect of sleep deprivation—I’ve gotten a total of 9 hours in the past 3 nights, I’d say. Speaking of which, I’m going to try to catch a power nap on my desk here.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Halloween unlike any other

Technically, it is already the day before the election! Our final staff meeting is keeping us here past midnight. Today was another long and busy day of handling copies and printouts and other technical issues, plus trying to do a few things to prepare for 11/2. It is hard to imagine that most people are living normal lives right now, which tonight meant going out and trick-or-treating—in our world, it is all campaign all the time, where days of the week have long ceased to exist, since they are all equally long for us. Tomorrow is going to be absolutely vital if Election Day is going to go well, since we have not even begun to reconfigure the office spatially. The longer this meeting goes on, the more I realize that we are not as prepared as we should be, and we probably won’t be as prepared as we want to be by the time the polls open. We have a functioning rides program and lots of lawyers and pollwatchers set to go to the polls, but we also have too few volunteers to do everything we wanted to do on Election Day to the fullest extent. But if I’ve learned anything over the last month and a half, it is that these things are about action, not about perfection, about something rather than everything. Campaigns are amazing how they mobilize a bunch of strangers to work together to do an incredible amount of work. There is a certain magic to it, actually: today I felt the sheer pride of working toward the common good when Carole King dropped by to rally us and lead us in the singing of “You’re Got A Friend.” After seeing the energy of this place at this point in the game, I understand why people like to participate in campaigns. It is a completely different type of experience now than it was when I first got here.

Now I am home, ready to collapse. I wanted to finish this entry since I’m doubtful I’ll post again before the BIG DAY. I’m optimistic, though it’s true we work in a blissful bubble of Kerry support. If the Red Sox winning the World Series wasn’t a good enough sign, I was told today about the Redskin’s election rule—did you know that the final game before a presidential election of the Washington Redskin’s has correlated to the winner of the presidency since 1932? Apparently, if the Redskin’s lose or tie the final game, the incumbent loses his bid for reelection. And today they lost to Green Bay, 28 to 14. I’m telling you, our karma is good. I can’t promise that Teresa LePore will make things easy—in fact, she’s already made them hard—but I know that we will find a way to win and keep hold of our victory this time. As I’ve seen on a T-shirt in the office: 11.2.2004—the end of an error.