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Why the long face? - Miami Journal #5

I'm sitting in the airport early Wednesday morning and the election is still too close to call. Electoral College votes are 254 Bush, 252 Kerry, with Bush carrying 51% of the popular vote to Kerry's 49%. Maps of the country show an enormous sea of red, with blue stripes down either coast. We're all waiting on Ohio.
Why the long face?
Miami Journal #5
11/3/04

By Ingrid Bauer

I'm sitting in the airport early Wednesday morning and the election is still too close to call. Electoral College votes are 254 Bush, 252 Kerry, with Bush carrying 51% of the popular vote to Kerry's 49%. Maps of the country show an enormous sea of red, with blue stripes down either coast. We're all waiting on Ohio.

Yesterday I didn't let myself think that Bush might win the popular vote, carry Florida, squeeze through the other swing states, and remain in power. The fight was still on. ACT teams continued to canvass neighborhoods throughout the Miami area, knocking on doors until the polls closed at seven. Later in the evening, exhausted ACT staff and volunteers headed to a sports bar in downtown Miami for what was to be a victory party. Instead, by midnight the cavernous bar was half-full of defeated-looking faces, all turned to three enormous TV screens to watch simultaneous election coverage. Pizza and wings remained uneaten and beer went flat while the crew sat tight-lipped, shaking their heads, as a red wave swept across the country. Not only was Bush ahead, but also Republicans strengthened their majority in the House and Senate. Half-hearted cheers marked the few victories for the Blue: New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington. But Florida? After Bush stole the election last year? After the work these folks had put in canvassing the state? The only consolation for many was that Miami-Dade and Broward counties went to Kerry.

"We should all be on the streets," said the ACT staff member who drove me to the airport through the pre-dawn fog. "In my country [Peru], no matter who wins, everyone is in the streets," he continued. I concurred, opining that most people in the United States believe that the system works, so if a candidate wins the election, there's nothing else to do about it. Even if citizens shared widespread outrage, we live such private lives in our houses and cars that few would notice if their neighbors were protesting in the driveway. Furthermore, as the popular vote illustrates, this country is almost evenly split on every major issue, not just Bush vs. Kerry. Who said what about uniting not dividing?

People are going to protest today, however. Not everywhere, not in numbers enough to make a dent in the immense armor of the Bush administration. But in San Francisco, New York, and even small towns like Amherst, Massachusetts, activists have been planning day-after protests since before this summer's conventions. Code Blue, an affinity group that emerged from the Bay Area Radical Health Collective, has worked with Bay Area groups that range from HERE locals (currently on strike) to Direct Action to Stop the War, which spearheaded the protests that shut down San Francisco's financial district after the war on Iraq began. Today's message is "Healthcare not Warfare," a message relevant to Bush and Kerry, both of whom plan to increase military spending at the expense of social spending at home; guns and lack of medical care are both hazardous to your health.

Thus, after this odyssey into the world of voting, I return to San Francisco to protest, because I still have more to say. Whether the elections were legitimate or not, I don't know. I believe that it was a close race, with the ability to swing to one side or the other based on a few malfunctioning computers, or misplaced provisional ballots, or voters turning away from the polls because of the long lines. I feel strongly that the efforts of groups like ACT and Moveon.org during the months leading up to the election mobilized many people that otherwise might not have voted, preventing a landslide victory for Bush. I don't think the canvassing I did over the last few days accomplished much. Nor do I think my hands and feet and voice on Market Street in San Francisco will do more. But it's better than doing nothing.

 
 


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Re: Why the long face? - Miami Journal #5

"Why the long face?"

Is that question for Kerry?
 

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