Sam's blog

The Front Lines

Today, I'm working on the front lines, at a polling location in Mantua (northeast University City). As a line-manager for the campaign, its my job to keep voters happy and in line. In this area, most voters are african american or students, and vote overwhelming for Obama, so everyone that leaves the lines is a vote lost.

For me, this election is massively important. In my 21 years, I have become a jaded American no trust for any politician. I no longer believed that the political process could be anything but mind-numbingly slow, tedious, and unresponsive. Voting was an empty gesture, indicating displeasure but failing to bring change. For me, the system would never change. Obama changed that, has given me a reason to believe change was possible. Possible, but not inevetable.

Today, I have hope. Today, I think that the young people of this country have a chance.

But that is nothing compared to the voters I am here to help. These people remember seperate but equal. They remember the civil rights movement. One of the obama election observers is a lawyer from New York, and she shared her memories of segregated drinking fountains as a child. Countless voters have come out almost in tears; the air is festive, people linger on the sidewalk to share memories of the past and revel in, dare I say it, hope.

For these voters, this election represents far more than than the possibility of change for the political sytem. The election represents hope for America itself.

As an extraordinarily white kid from an upper-middle class suburb, to have this experience is an increadible honor, and one that will stay with me.

The lines are starting to pick up now, I better get back to work -- otherwise I may need to pack for canada.

Returning to Our Traumatized Mentality

After 9/11, our nation entered a period of shock. Laws were passed that should, perhaps, not have been passed. Bush was given a free hand to do more or less what he wished. The fallout from that can be seen just about everywhere -- foreign policy, the economy, social services, free speech, privacy, and many other fundamental values and services have suffered.

And yet, here we are, teetering on the brink of making the same mistake again. This time, the trigger was not terrorism, but the implosion of our financial system. We have returned to that same fragile state. Congress is unsure what to do, trapped between seeming confident and making sound, measured, decisions.

Bush, once again, has recommended rash measures that make sweeping changes to the way government functions. Under his plan the treasury department would be given unbelievable power to relieve companies of their debt without any oversight or repercussions. This plan has the potential to raise our national debt trillions of dollars and make the Treasury uncontrollable (imagine the difficulties faced by Guantanamo Bay lawsuits, but with both the government and big corporations on the defense).

Luckily, Democrats in Congress are holding firm. Despite what almost sound like threats from Paulson and Bernanke, legislation has not yet been rushed through. Both oversight and direct relief for beleaguered home-owners seem to be in the works. Perhaps the Democratic Party can learn from their mistakes.


Palin - The Young Face of Old Politics

Young, frank, "perky," "spunky," Sarah Palin is exactly what the Republican Party needed to re-energize and invigorate the tired, old school McCain campaign. The party has found in Palin a counterpoint to Obama -- A hint of "hope" and "truth" in a party so broadly painted as slow, plodding, and untrustworthy. On the radio and in the news one hears mention of the "Palin McCain" ticket, a thought so bizarre I find it difficult to countenance even in today's sensationalist media.

Palin has managed to attain "celebrity" status. The American people have been charmed by her apparent charm. This is, indeed, exactly the situation Obama enjoyed towards the beginning of his campaign.

Youthful, intelligent, American-dream-personified, Obama certainly inspired more irrational fanaticism than I would have liked to see in a presidential campaign. And yet, time, and the media, have brought Obama back down to the humble earth. Passionate speeches, political gaffes, and constant pinpricks from the enemy have illuminated both his strengths and his weaknesses.

It is time for that same process to take hold on the Shining Star of Palin's political persona. No matter what the final destination may be, the uproar and approval brought by Palin must subside. Her arrival changes nothing of substance about the campaign.