Sunday, November 12, 2006

Obligatory (slightly belated) post Election Blog

First of all, a confession: during the 5 years I was in Japan, I didn't vote. Despite expressing some strong opinions on this blog around election time, I just couldn't be bothered to fill out the forms for an overseas absentee ballot. If you have the foresight of obtaining an absentee ballot before you leave the country, I think it might be slightly easier. But applying from overseas, and proving you're a US citizen and registered voter, is a lot of paperwork and a general pain in the ass. I looked into it. And let's face it: filling out forms and being organized is not my strong suit. Otherwise I wouldn't have kept missing the deadline for the Japanese Proficiency Test.

A lot of my friends in Japan gave me a rough time about this, and probably rightly so. Particularly Canadians, Australians, et cetera, who would say things to me like, "Look, the American Presidential election affects the whole world. You don't know how much the rest of us would give to be able to have a say in this. And you're just going to through your vote away?"

And I would respond: "Right, first of all we have this thing in America called the 'Electoral College', which means the overall popular vote doesn't really matter (otherwise Bush would never have been President in the first place). Secondly, absentee ballots are put in a sealed container, and they're not even counted unless the regular voting comes within a certain margin. If Bush takes Michigan by one vote, I'll hang myself, or everyone at Tropicoco's can kick me one time in the ass, or we'll work something out. But otherwise I'm not going through all that paperwork just so my absentee ballot can be locked away."

And since Kerry took Michigan by a comfortable margin in 2004, I'm still relatively guilt free about that.

But I did vote this time around, and have the sticker to prove it. My sister tried to get away with faking her vote, but I caught her on it.
"I'm so mad that Governor Granholm got re-elected," she said.
"Well, Jess," says I, "if you feel that strongly about it, maybe you should vote next time."
"I did vote," she says.
"No you didn't" says I.
"I did. After I left the house, I went to vote."
"Alright then," I says, "where do we vote at."
"At the library."
"But where at the library."
"At the tables."
"Okay, say you walk in the front door of the library: where is the voting at? In the back? By the---."
At which point my sister yelled, "I hate you! I hate you! Why do you always have to find me out!"
After which I did a couple victory laps around the room. (Truth be told, I had an inside tip from another source that Jess wasn't planning on voting so it wasn't completely fair).

Bork had an election party at his house, where some of went over to watch the results. It was a predominantely (exculsively) liberal group there, so there wasn't a lot of heated debate. Bork said that election night was stressful enough, he couldn't handle the added stress of political debate. Plus he wanted to maintain the ideological purity of his basement.

Needless to say, we were pleased with the results. I was hoping for more to be honest. I wanted a bigger victory margin in the Senate, I was disappointed that pro-war Lieberman got re-elected, and I was particularly disappointed by proposal 2 passing in Michigan. So we didn't get it all, but Bork and I agreed that it was the first election in 6 years where we didn't leave with that "just got kicked in the balls feeling."

Because of some of the more radical circles I travel in, and because of my self-identification as an Anarchist, I always feel the need to explain away my voting Democratic. I've done that in the past here and here, and I won't go over all that again. It's probably only a marginal segment I'd be defending myself against anyway.

I will say this though: a lot of prominent anarchists do advocate participating in the existing process, including Noam Chomsky. And, in spite of this "more radical than thou" website masquarading under the identity of Emma Goldman, if you read Emma Goldman's autobiography, the real Emma was actually a lot more ambivalent about the question of voting, and leaned towards supporting it.

That being said, I don't hold any illusions about the Democrats leading us to salvation. Any of the progressive victories in the past 100 years, from civil rights to workers rights, weren't won at the election box but rather by organizing. However I figure a Democratic victory will stop things from actively getting worse. Or at the very least slow the tide.

And as far as Proposal 2 in Michigan banning Affirmative action:
Media Mouse has a couple great articles on their web site analyzing this. I'm pretty disappointed that the proposal passed, but I can understand some of the concerns.

The problem with Affirmative Action is it is an issue with a lot of gray in it, which, like a lot of other issues, often gets lost or distorted when it enters the political realm. Personally I support Affirmative Action as long as it is:
1) With the understanding that this is only a temporary measure to address existing inequalities (and not some sort of revenge for past inequalities) and
2). It is used to promote integration, and not further segregation.

This is why we supported Affirmative Action in this Chimes article, but I opposed the Calvin Multi-Cultural floor. Also the Grand Rapids Press mentioned that Proposal 2 might end plans to create an all-girls school in Grand Rapids, and if that happens maybe Proposal 2 wouldn't be all that bad.

Still, the same GR Press article had what I thought was a great quote from a local student: " legacy admissions programs that give preference to children of alumni also should be banned. That's affirmative action for whites".

Useless Wikipedia Fact
McCartney said about the song "Wild Honey Pie": "We were in an experimental mode, and so I said, 'Can I just make something up?' I started off with the guitar and did a multitracking experiment in the control room... It was very home-made – it wasn't a big production at all. I just made up this short piece and I multitracked the harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and built it up sculpturally with a lot of vibrato on the [guitar] strings, really pulling the strings madly – hence 'Wild Honey Pie'." According to McCartney the song might have been excluded from The Beatles album, but Pattie Boyd "liked it very much so we decided to leave it in."

Link of the Day
I hate to admit it, but Christmas season is definitely here. Several people are already asking me what I want. Chris and Athania have a really cool idea about using the World Vision Catalog.

"You can order things for people who really are in need in someone else’s name. For example, you can buy a goat for a family in Kenya for $75, or buy a $100 share in a well for a village with no drinking water. There are lots of option for lots of prices....How amazing would it be if even 10% of Americans (or Hong Kongers!) bought all their gifts this Christmas from this catalog?"

I couldn't agree more. How cool would it be if Christmas became a time of giving to the poor instead of a time of accumulating more junk or fighting crowds at the mall? I definitely plan to use this for my Christmas shopping, and if anyone wants to get gifts for me, this is the place to look.

1 comment:

SN said...

i hear that you and brett got into a fairly heated debate about christmas the other night over coffee. i think you and i are in agreement about most things. christmas ties my stomach into knots. -sn