Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Observations

Yesterday I ran a precinct polling place, as I do every election. My precinct since 2002 is comprised entirely of University students, so I have an intimate view of that segment of the electorate. Yesterday's turnout shattered all records for the precinct, and by noon I knew that Obama would win based on that turnout. Simply put, the 'youth vote' has long been the holy grail for Democrats, and Obama succeeded in motivating the college students at a level that John Kerry failed to achieve. Observing the enthusiasm amongst these young people was a cause for optimism that I haven't felt in quite a while. As an election official, I'm completely impartial on election day, and only concerned with conducting a fair and legal election. But I'm not blind. I see who's voting and what their attitude is as they vote. Yesterday, the difference was palpable.
How much of a change Obama means for America remains to be seen. But the attitude of my younger voters was a clear signal that there is a change in the political energy that may be felt for years to come.
At least I hope so.
I admit, I'm a cynical old goat. For all that I like about Barack becoming our president, I'm still skeptical about how much he'll actually be able to accomplish. The poor bastard is inheriting one hell of a mess, and the republicans aren't going to go quietly into oblivion as a result of this defeat (though I really wish they would.) The challenges ahead for Obama and America may be among the greatest in our history, and a president only has control of a fraction of the unfolding of events. In short, this thing may be too broken for even a great president to fix.
But there is that small piece of optimism, that glimmering of 'hope' that I haven't felt in a long while. Maybe, just maybe, this country is turning in the right direction. Maybe we can create a better future. Maybe those young people that I saw voting can lead to dynamic new possibilities.
If nothing else, it should be a lot more interesting to watch than the ongoing disaster of the last eight years.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-elect Barack Hussein Obama! Way to go America!

Happy Election Day!

Langston Hughes: Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!