Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dora Fitzgerald

Dora Fitzgerald of North Charleston, SC, 93, died last week. She clung to life so that she could vote for Barack Obama.

She made her mark, and we put it in the envelope, my brother and I walked to the mailbox, it was 11 o’clock Wednesday morning and I said ‘Mom its in the mail, you’ve done your thing, Barack’s going to win,’ and she kind of smiled and it was kind of a deep sigh, a sigh of relief, and in less than an hour later, she died

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Subtle Bigotry: Hockey Mom

We've heard about the racism that the McCain campaign has stirred up, but few people have addressed when it started. I believe that it started as soon as Sarah Palin was named as his running mate. Specifically, the first time she claimed that she was "just one of [us]" and a "hockey mom."

Why is that racist? To answer that question we have to look at who hockey moms are. So, that's just what I did.

Luckily, I already had an idea of who they were, at least in this area. For a few years I helped my brother-in-law with his little league photography business. Among his clients were a few of the local hockey leagues. He also had football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and wrestling leagues for clients. He worked in communities on all ends of the income spectrum. As far as Northern New Jersey is concerned, I know the sports demographics well.

From this I tell you that hockey moms are earlier risers, able to tolerate prolonged periods in freezing temperatures, financially comfortable, SUV drivers, and as white as possible. Don't take my word for it, here is what MinnPost's Jay Weiner had to say about it:

[T]he sport is predominantly Caucasian and, of course, extremely Northern in its geography. Among hockey, soccer and basketball, those who participate in hockey have the highest household income of $80,540. It's a more affluent sport and, perhaps, more Republican, although Minnesota hockey has a blue-collar strain to it.

Slate's income numbers are different, but they tell the same story:

[T]hey're almost certain to be largely Caucasian. Just 2 percent of National Hockey League players are black, despite the work of a "diversity task force" for both the professional and youth leagues. (The task force has held special camps in Wasilla, Alaska.) USA Hockey claims hockey-playing households earn nearly twice the U.S. average, with a median income of $99,200. According to polling by the Pew Research Center, a slice of registered voters that might be roughly equivalent to hockey moms—comprising white married women with kids under 18, incomes over $75,000 and living in the prime hockey-playing regions

If you read the full stories accompanying those quotes you will start to realize who the "us" is that Palin is one of. It doesn't encompass people of color. Nor does it include the poor, actually it mostly excludes the middle class. It does include someone who can afford thousands of dollars every year for their child to play a sport. Very few hockey moms are worried about how they're going to afford their next meal.

When Sarah Palin says that she is one of "us" and that Barack Obama isn't, in the same breath that she claims to just be a hockey mom, she is making a classist and racist statement. She is saying that we can't let a non-white person who had to work their way through school into the White House. She is professing her disgust for someone who would waste their time as a community organizer in low income areas.

It is a subtle attack, but one that should not be overlooked. At the very least, not anymore. Once her attacks became more overt, and her attempts to provoke a passionate racist reaction became more obvious, we had to look at just how deeply this runs in the campaign. It isn't merely a ploy that started a week or two ago, it's built right into the VP pick.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Agree With Bill Kristol?

Bill Kristol now thinks that McCain should fire his campaign, something I called for in July. Not that I agree with Kristol on much else that he's saying, especially that a stunt like this could work this late in the campaign.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Troy, Ohio

On a more positive note, this is why Barack Obama will be our next President.

I have to say, I can picture Troy as I read those words. Why? Because I grew up a couple towns over. I could walk to Miami County from my house, it was about 400 feet from my door to a corn field that was in the county. My brother was once hit by a car while riding his bike on Route 202 in Miami county, he was thrown over the county line into Montgomery county.

When I lived in Ohio I considered myself an undecided Republican. I believed in the ideas that I was taught the party represented. I was told that they were right and just.*

My mother was heavily involved in their organization in my town. My father was an Independent, if he were around today he'd probably consider himself a Libertarian. That's just a guess, though. I was a product of my environment.

I used to be far more politically motivated, back when I had free time during the day and wasn't trying to feed a family. I would hand out fliers for the Republican party. I started working the polls at 17. At that age you're allowed to work at the county elections office doing ballot collection. It's manual labor. Once I turned 18 I took over my mother's spot at the local poll serving as a judge.

A Republican judge.

I served as a judge at several elections. After the first few I served as the presiding judge, which meant that I had to pick up the equipment before and deliver the ballots after.

Every polling place I've presided at was a Christian church. That didn't strike me as being so odd back then. Now I can only pause to wonder how a Muslim or a Jew feels walking into such a place to cast their ballot.

Now I'm quite happy to be out of Ohio. Every time I talk to someone who still lives there the outlook gets bleaker. The economy there is in shambles. No one knows who to trust or where to look.

It's good to see that change is happening. People need to stand up, and stand together. It is my hope that these organizations and connections live on beyond this election, and beyond the goal of getting one party or another into office. They should grow into organizations to push ideas up the chain and tell candidates what the voters really want and need. They should become the next generation of watchdogs who are ready to defect if they aren't being represented.

For now, I'll take solace in knowing that I won't have to hear another four years of Ohio taking the blame for electing the wrong candidate.

* This is not to say that I believe that all of the Democrats' ideas are right. I've since grown up and I realize that no party can represent every idea correctly. However, in that time I've learned a lot of good reasons why some Republican policies are foolish. Also, the underlying Christian Nationalist agenda within the Republican party is something that needs to be exorcised before I could consider their platform to be viable.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

That One

It has been a long political season. I am thankful that it will soon come to a close. This has been the most turbulent election I can remember, at least since 1992 with the on-and-off Perot campaign.

I believe that the right team is in the lead. They only need to play defense, and maybe shoot for a couple more points to fully secure the win. They cannot let their guard down yet, but their sideline can smile in satisfaction. What we've seen over the last few months has been a collapse of the opposition.

Specifically, if you couldn't already tell, I believe that Barack Obama will rightfully be the next President. John McCain has completely destroyed his brand. He's left himself with no choice but to run a dishonorable campaign over the coming month. It is a sad tribute to someone who once ran specifically on honor, dignity, and righteousness.

It comes down to two words, "that one."

When I heard him say that during the last debate I was astonished. I cannot recall a Presidential candidate with that little tact. I have heard no apology and no explanation for what was said. I can only assume that John McCain himself has lost his ability to be a gentleman. The only question now is whether his campaign is a reflection of him, or he a reflection of his campaign.

Thinking of the phrase, "that one," many things come to mind. Most notably are the times when my father would incredulously call my brother or I that way. "And that one over there wasn't helping anything," he would say. It was always used to scorn. It belittles and dehumanizes.

Yet, my father knew something that Mr. McCain must not. That is not a phrase to be used lightly. It is not to be used on those of equal or greater standing. A well mannered individual would never utter those words in public when any better label would do. My father knew that and he would never refer to my brother or I in such a manner outside the house.

Another interpretation would be that the quip was meant as subtle racism. I don't believe this is the case. However, I do believe that the questions and allegations are justifiable. I don't judge those who would accuse this man of resorting to racism during his fall from grace. I won't join them, though.

A more honorable man would step up and defend his words. He would explain that it is just an expression and declare that he did not intend to demean Senator Obama. Since that has not happened, we can only assume that his intent was dishonorable.

This is just one instance, though. Two words. Much more can be observed from the rest of the debate, and the rest of the campaign. Senator McCain's surrogates, especially Sarah Palin, have ventured down far less honorable paths. They are overtly questioning Mr. Obama's heritage, childhood, and service. In doing so, they insult all Americans who believe that freedom knows no such bounds, as well as those who put their country, and their communities, before themselves.

I believe that during these final days of this election cycle we should reflect on the grace and integrity shown by each of the candidates. Specifically, that which is shown by Barack Obama and that which John McCain has apparently lost.