I have been glued to the TV since the moment I have walked into my apartment. I am way too excited to write, work, or do anything useful. Since I don't get to vote, I have to live vicariously through the people who did. Can't write more now but will tomorrow.
Several months ago, California was planning on using the electronic voting machines so there was a big push to get people to vote absentee so that there could be a paper trail. That's when Jake signed up and so a few weeks ago we got his ballot.
Four years ago, when he went to vote in New York City, I went with him. That was the year I first became obsessed with elections and I was dying to vote. I asked the people at the voting center if I could go look into the booth. I wasn't planning on doing anything funny, I just wanted to see what a ballot looked like. I wanted to feel like I was part of the experience even though I knew I wasn't. The people wouldn't let me into the booth. They said I could wait outside until Jake was done, which was pretty quick. By the time we got home, I was still bummed about not knowing how it looked. Thanks to the insanity that year, I did get to see many photos of the Florida ballot, but it just wasn't the same.
This year, Jake let me do some research on some of the local Propositions and local seats that are up for election. I spent part of my morning reading about the candidates and the Props. We then sat down and talked about each of them and I told him what I thought and why and he listened and sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed. And then he went off and filled his ballot.
Even though I didn't get to vote this year either, I did get to see a real ballot up close and personal. I got to read about the issues in much more depth and I felt more like a part of the process than ever before. I know many people are too cynical or too lazy to vote but I really believe it's important to vote. Even if you think your vote counts. Even if you don't like any of the candidates (write your own name in for all I care). I respect the fact that you may think otherwise and choose not to vote. I think it's a huge shame but I respect it.
If all goes well, I will get to vote in the 2008 elections and I cannot tell you how excited that makes me feel. To everyone who's voted or voting on Tuesday, thank you for making a difference, even if it's supporting the candidate I don't want, I am glad you're out there.
Thanks to my friend Cynthia, I am completely hooked on Air America. Since I live in "not-so-liberal" San Diego, the radio hasn't made it to my hometown just yet, so the only way I can listen to it is over the net. The biggest downside of this is that if I miss a show in realtime, I miss it. For example, this morning, Jon Stewart was on the O'Franken Factor and by the time I tuned in, I'd already missed the first hour and I missed it again tonight when it was recast. If it were on the radio, I could have recorded it and listened to it later, when I wasn't busy. Other than that, I've had no problem listening to it while working; it doesn't distract me one bit.
Most of the programs are interesting, provocative, funny and informative. However, there were several instances during the Randi Rhodes Show that I thought she was being obnoxious and I didn't appreciate that she hung up on several people while they were still talking. Just because there are ranting people on the other side doesn't mean we have to rant as well. I feel like it's important to stay dignified, especially in the presence of rudeness.
Leaving for New York tomorrow! (where I can listen to Air America on the actual radio) I have mixed emotions. Part of me hopes that I realize I don't miss it as much as I do. We'll see...
Ever since the Iowa caucuses and the outcomes of the next ten days of primaries, I've been wondering why the system of voting for the primaries is the way it is. I know there's been a trend of many other states moving their dates forward, trying to be one of the 'influential' states and there are states that complain about not getting enough attention.
My questions is: Why do any of the states get to vote before others? How come we don't all vote on the same day across all states like we do for the Presidential election. I'm not bothered that states like Iowa and New Hampshire get so much political attention. I am much more upset about how strongly they affect the race itself. There were nine presidential candidates before the Iowa caucuses. On the day Jake got to vote in California, we were down to four. I feel that no one or two or seven states should have enough power to change the entire race before the other 43 have even had a chance to participate.
If all states voted on the same day, I am confident the results could have been different. Maybe we wouldn't even have Kerry as the candidate. Dean would have never made that speech (or at least it would have been too late to have an effect), Clark would have been an option. I feel that if the primaries were treated like a serious, country-wide election, they should be all on the same day and shouldn't have as much local concentration as they do. The election is not about a candidate who is serving Iowa or Alaska or Alabama. This is a presidential candidate. This person will serve the entire country. This person needs to concentrate on the whole country and the whole country should get the option of voting for the candidate they want in the White House.
It isn't fair that the early states got to choose between nine and others didn't. In my eyes, this affects the entire balance of the election. What about all those people who voted for Kerry or Lieberman, would they have voted for someone else if the two weren't a choice. Of course, they would have. Would the results have been different? Maybe or maybe not.
The fact is, we will never know.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
I'm always amazed when I meet American citizens who don't vote. I agree with Alaina's last sentence: The only wasted votes are those that are not cast. And I wish people realized that regardless of their criticisms of the system or the way in which it's executed, it's a privilege to get to vote and I think it's better to show up, put your own name as a write-in than not voting at all. At least in that case, you're exercising your right to vote.
I know that system in the US isn't perfect. If nothing else, we learned that after the 2000 elections. But just because it's not perfect and it's not easy to fix, doesn't mean one should give up on it. If you believe in the system strongly enough to get so mad, then go ahead and do something about it. Many people are. If you aren't moved to do something, then at least go cast your vote. It takes about five minutes of time, depending what time of day you show up and the population around your location. As far as I am concerned, you can only whine about the current administration if you voted. If you didn't bother to be a part of the system, you have no right to bitch. Voting is a way for you to vocalize your opinion, for you to put it on paper (or computer system if you live in San Diego) and have it be a part of history.
What do you actually achieve by not voting? I don't even consider the arguments of people who tell me they're busy. We're all busy. This isn't a weekly occurrence. That's just an excuse. I am angrier at the people who don't vote as a principle. What is the principle behind not voting? I really need someone to explain to me how they are affecting the system in a positive way by not voting because I truly don't understand it.
As someone from a truly corrupted country that is struggling to become democratic it makes me sad to see how many people waste their rights in this country. And as someone who, hopefully, might get to vote on the presidential election for 2008, I am truly interested in the logic behind choosing not to vote.
THE CAUCUS SYSTEMLast week, I asked Jake to explain the caucus system to me. He explained the gist of it and told me that he didn't know the details of how it worked. The one thing he did mention is that once the delegates get into the groups for each candidate and the candidate gets too low a turnout, that group gets dismantled and everyone gets to go to their second choice, and so on. This idea was quite appealing to me so I read up on the process a bit and it works quite similar to the way Jake explained it.
In actuality, the Republican and the Democratic caucuses are different according to the DeMoines Register. The Republicans get to vote one time for one candidate. This makes me sad since the most appealing part of the caucus, to me, is that particular trait. The interesting part of the Democratic caucus is that let's say you're rooting for a candidate you really like but isn't realistically going to win, which we have many of this year, you get to stand in his crowd (since Carol Moseley Braun dropped out, they are all men now) and be heard. Then, since he didn't get enough votes, you get to go stand in your second favorite candidate's crowd as well. This means you may get to exercise your right to vote several times, depending on the candidate you chose.
I like the idea of going down your list of choices; it represents a clearer picture of the voters' preferences. Let's say there are 3 people running for president in a year when the outgoing president has already served for eight years and can't get reelected, like it was the case in 2000. (I know there were more than 3 candidates in 2000 but I am trying to simplify for my example's sake.) Let's say you like the ideals of Candidate A and you vote for him. About 10% of the voters agree with you so they do the same. This is a substantial number for Candidate A and it may encourage him or her to rerun in a few years. However, it's not enough to win this election and it's below 15% so the people who voted for Candidate A, including you, have to now choose another group to join. Let's say when Candidate A got 10%, Candidate B and Candidate C had received 49% and 41%, respectively. If Candidate A's crowd didn't get to revote, Candidate B would be the declared winner. This is the way today's presidential elections, the Republican caucus, and the primaries work (in my simple understanding), you get to vote once and the candidate with the most votes wins. (Yes, I am aware of the Electoral College and how it all works, but imagine this on a state by state level.)
Now let's imagine the entire 10% of Candidate A's crowd decides to vote for Candidate C after their crowd has to disperse. This time, Candidate C is the winner. The results have changed drastically.
The question is which result represents the voters' preferences better? I prefer the caucus way because I might like Candidate A better than the other two but if he's no longer an option, I'd much rather have Candidate C in office over Candidate B. If the name of the game is to represent the voters' preferences, doesn't the caucus system do that more accurately?
REAL WORLD IRAQ
"Let's just listen." - CNN reporter, yesterday as they were replaying the attack
I've tried to not mention the war. Not because I don't have strong feelings about it. Actually, it appears I have strong feelings about everything. This war is complicated for me. I assume it's complicated for most people unless you are at one extreme end of the issue. Don't get me wrong; I think all war is bad. War means people will die and, no matter what the cause, people dying is a terrible tragedy. There's no doubt it my mind about that.
Having all my family in Turkey and living in New York City and being Jewish makes me just about as involved in this war as I can possibly be. To add to the joy, I am unemployed and thus available to watch TV 24/7. I have officially become a CNN-addict. Thanks to the Tivo, not only do I get to watch it when I'm at home, but I get to cache it when I'm not. To be honest, I think I'm suffering from too much thought about the war to be able to sit and put it all into words. I'm not ready, so I shall not.
I will, however, talk about some other, but related, matters:
I am frustrated by the "Real World", the TV show, attitude CNN is taking towards this war. This isn't some fucking TV show, it's real, it's serious and it's horrifying. Those are not firecrackers; they are bombs. I don't appreciate having them suggest that we be quiet and listen as bombs drop all over Iraq. No matter how one feels about whether this war is justified or the right thing or unjustified or the wrong thing, watching it all "unfold" is not a nail-biting suspense thing. It's making me angry that they are sensationalizing it so much.
I saw my first anti-war rally today. It was an unbelievable experience for me. I don't know how many people were part of the march but the number was definitely in the thousands. There were men, women, and children. Pretty much all races were represented. Multiple nationalities were present. Several issues were being voiced. Some posters were funny, some clever, some thought-provoking, and some downright scary. Here's a bunch and I have a ton more here. I couldn't stop taking pictures.
I remember being in Istanbul during the Gulf War and watching it all unfold on TV. I remember very little about how I felt and I know my daily life wasn't really interrupted. I am confident that, at least so far, the same is now true for my family back home. But knowing that doesn't stop me from worrying. When I'm not at home and watching TV, I jump each time the phone rings, worried that it might be my mom with some horrifying news.
I'm sorry I can't be more eloquent or pithy. All I know right now is that watching a lot of TV is bad for me but watching this many hours of CNN is exponentially more detrimental to my well-being.
Or lack thereof.
My mother in law testified before the senate in DC yesterday. Thanks to my brother in law, I convinced my lovely husband to take the day off, hop in a car and drive to DC for the day.
ELECTION MADNESSI had all these interesting thoughts today that I planned to write about and now I can't remember any of them. That should explain how long my day was.
Millions of people have already linked to this 13 Myths About the Results of the 2000 Election story that Derek originally linked to at MetaFilter but in case you haven't seen it, I wanted to make sure to point it out. One of the most interesting points, to me, was the 13th. I never really thought of that and it's an interesting point. The entire piece is quite thought provoking actually.
I'm still reading the political issue of the New Yorker from a few weeks ago. Today, I read the Joseph P. Kennedy letters. They were beautiful. The two I found most touching were the ones relating to the deaths of Joe Kennedy, Jr.and Kathleen Kennedy Hartington. It seems he was quite religious. Even though I'm not, I liked his strong emotions and eloquent wording. Here's the one he wrote to Kick (Kathleen) 30 minutes after he found out about her death:
No one who ever knew her didn't feel that life was much better that minute. And [ the word probably with a slash mark through it] we know so little about the next world that we must think that they wanted just such a wonderful girl for themselves. We must not feel sorry for her but for ourselves.
Here's another part from a letter to Cissy Patterson, editor and publisher of the Wahington Times-Herald about Joe's death.
I still find it very difficult to get over Joe's death. God in His wisdom ordained so well that the young soon forget the sorrow of the death of older people, but I don't think that the older people ever get over the death of the younger ones.
He also has a humorous letter to Teddy, correcting his broken English.
All in all, a very interesting read.
VOTINGMy referrer logs aren't usually that interesting. With the exception of this. I would like you to note that I am number One! Any ideas on what that symbolizes? Heh.
Everyone's talking about voting. It's all over the Fray ( you can even read my little comment) and all over MetaFilter. I know there are many people who are sick of all this talk, but I am still totally obsessed. I can't think of anything else. I have MetaFilter and CNN up on my screens at work and I keep refreshing to get the most recent updates. Kinda freaky, I know, but I can't stop myself. I promise to go back to normal as soon as Gore wins. Heh.
So much to do and so little time. I'm still feeling overwhelmed about this weekend. Trying to get my arms around all the Japanese I need to master in the next three weeks. I also need to produce some literary sounding scenes for my novel class on Monday. This one will go to the entire class so they can critique it, so it needs to be extra good. Let alone all the TiVo catching up I'm gonna have to do. Argh.
POLITICAL LANGUAGEHe's almost winning! Heh. Heh.
Thanks to Stewart I tracked down the double issue of The New Yorker and I am so glad I did. I don't know why I suddenly became so fascinated with politics, but here I am yelling at my TV while Jake's surfing the net. Maybe it is cause I can't vote.
One of the articles in the New Yorker, titled The Word Lab, is about what language the candidates use and how they get selected. It has quite a few interesting points. For the article, they created a focus group and one of the things they discussed was death tax. People's opinion of the amount you're allowed to pass on after you die was a lot more than people had originally guessed. But even after the facts were given, almost none of the participants changed their opinion on whether to abolish to tax or not. "The point here was that if you introduce a subject using language that will produce a strong opinion no subsequent information will get people to change their minds."
Another thing they did during the focus group was to make them put these five words in order of what matters most in their life. The list was opportunity, community, responsibility, accountability, and society. (I listed them in the same order as the magazine) What would be your order?
I gotta go back and yell at my TV some more.
HIRING THE DEAF & ELECTIONSAt the NYSD I work in the Job Placement area and two weeks ago, I sent a buncha resumes out for office help positions that I found on the Job Bank site. The neat thing is that someone from one of those companies got back to us. He said that he never considered hiring a deaf person but when he got the letter from us, he figured why not. That made me feel magnificent. All you can ask from people, in my opinion, is a 'Why not?' That's the sign of open-mindedness. The willingness to give it a shot is all you need to start. If the door is cracked open even slightly, it means there is a chance you can get in. Most people not only shut it but they lock it to ensure all the 'different' people stay away. I'm all for 'Why Not?' If I could get everyone to a 'Why Not?' I'd be thrilled.
I spent several hours reading the Economist's election edition. They had information on the different platforms of the two candidates. I think it's very important that people realize that there are very specific differences in the platforms of the two candidates. Cause both of them are trying so hard not to fuck up so close to the election, it seems that they are agreeing on everything, but trust me, they are not. I think this is a really important election, especially since they are so neck and neck. Each vote will count in this election. Well, unless you live in New York. Or in any of the other, 'decided', states.
PUT DOWN ADS
I just saw a Rick Lazio ad about how Hilary Clinton is running ads bashing him. The ad talks about how she has nothing better to do, etc. Isn't he doing the same thing by running this ad?
I really don't understand why candidates run ads that put down their opponents. Do they really think that people vote for them because they said something negative about the other person?
The same behavior bothers me in corporate ads. When Pepsi runs an ad bashing Coke or vice versa, I feel like they must be so pathetic that they need to put down the competition. Their own product obviously must have no redeeming qualities.