No Matter What Happens on Election Day, there are Some Encouraging Signs

New Orleans        On the balcony of our office with a slight breeze on an unseasonably warm day, we talked about elections scheduled for 2019 in Albania and Bulgaria.   Earlier in the day I had forwarded an article from the Journal to colleagues in France and Cameroon about the months every year that the longtime and recently re-elected president of that country spends with his wife and entourage at great national expense at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland.  My point?  Everything is relative.  There’s no flat ground in the fight to advance democracy and build power for the powerless, it’s all mountains to climb every day, including Election Day which is just one day of many.

Which brings me to some encouraging developments in the United States, regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections, that give hope from citizen participation and democracy in the future.

One was the long overdue defeat of Kansan Kris Kobach’s efforts to create a flawed and partisan software to restrict access to the ballot under the false flag of voter fraud.  Kobach has been the scourge of immigrants and voters for a decade and most recently as secretary of state in Kansas.  He’s now in a deadlock race for governor as the Republican nominee, and for the sake of brothers and sisters in that state, we can only express sympathy and hope that he won’t prevail in the same way that his software scam called Crosscheck has also failed.  Kobach had convinced more than half of the states around the country for a time to use the software because it supposedly cleaned the voter registration lists, despite tremendous evidence of false results.  Finally, researchers at Harvard, Stanford, and Microsoft analyzed the software and found the number of false positives unconscionable.  ProPublica found that it was also chockfull of security flaws.  Kobach’s long con was simply to get rid of non-Republican voters, and it finally caught up with him so that Crosscheck is “essentially dormant” to quote the Times.  In its place is something called ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, which cleans up the rolls and identifies eligible voters.  ERIC is now used by 24 states from red Louisiana to blue Illinois.  The arc of justice is long, but true.

The other hugely encouraging development has been the activation of women all over the country.  I have witnessed this first hand in city after city where I’ve been with “The Organizer” documentary and my book, Nuts and Bolts.  In reaction to Trump and his misogyny, they have literally come out of the woodwork in their kitchens and living rooms.  I can’t even describe how big my smile was as I read about the ReSistas, women who have worked hard and enjoyed a glass of wine, in Orange County, California, as they pushed conservative flamethrower Darryl Issa into resigning there, and are still hunting elephant.  They are not alone, but joined by a grassroots resistance to the horror of our President, his politics, and his party, that no matter the results of any one election, will not be stopped until they win.

No matter how the votes turn out, these are developments that are unstoppable.

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Get Out the Vote!

get_out_the_vote_2016_logoNew Orleans   Election Day, finally! Only one more thing that everyone needs to do and should have already done: get out and vote.

Yes, your vote may have been suppressed, but get out and vote.

Yes, you may be depressed at the choices and grossed out by the campaign, but you really don’t have a choice, but to get out and vote.

Polls opened in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana at 6:00 AM. They keep trying to push the times around here in our red tomato state, but one of the remaining vestiges of the Huey Long populist days in the state is we have looooong voting periods.

I vote in what used to be a high school. The school’s all-purpose field for recess, football, and whatever is across the street from my house. This is now one of the KIPP charter schools and part of the charter invasion that has swamped New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. After walking and feeding Lucha, my Australian sheep dog, I waited a couple of minutes for my companera to walk the block and a half to the school cafeteria where a half-dozen precincts in our 9th Ward have their voting machines. At 6:10 I was the third voter in my precinct. There was no line for us at the 9th Ward, Precinct 11 (yes, 9/11, easy to remember!), but there were lines more than 10 deep at many of the other polling stations. A good sign.

It takes us a big longer to vote. I sort of speed through, despite six or seven poorly written amendments and almost forgetting who I was supporting for School Board in solidarity with the local teachers’ union. My companera takes a bit longer. They are ready for her now in a way that they were not a couple of years ago. As part of a long standing ACORN campaign against voter ID’s, she always refuses to show an ID and makes them go through the process of having her sign an affidavit to make sure they know the proper procedures. Many elections ago this used to be contentious and involve a lot of hootenanny and calling downtown and so forth. The kids wouldn’t go with us because it was so conflicted and time consuming, but, counting small victories, they now see her coming, have the envelopes ready, and away we go.

Of course it takes a couple of more minutes for us. We usually run into some members. This time she ran into a veteran of her Upper 9th Ward group, so he got a hug and a push to come to the meeting on Thursday. Some folks were complaining in the papers about the fact that 45 million early voters were taking away the “community” of voting. Yes, there’s a bit of that, but voting is more important than the 5 minutes of community feeling. Go to your local neighborhood group for that. Vote anyway you can, as early as you want, but vote.

Some would say our votes don’t really matter. We’re not a battleground state. Like too many of the southern states, we’re lumped into the base that the Republicans take for granted and the Democrats concede from the day the campaigning starts. In New Orleans, like most big cities, we are dark, dark blue with a likely 80 to 85% vote for Hillary. We have to turn back David Duke one more time though and see if we can pull off a miracle and flip a Senate seat, though that is unlikely.

Regardless, we fought hard for the right to vote and too many are fighting hard to keep us from voting, so Election Day is a time to put aside the whining and the wishing and strike our little blows and remember the close calls like Gore against Bush and why it still matters if the majority votes one way, regardless of where we live on the electoral college map. This is part of the struggle, and to not be part of it is just plain wrong.

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Please enjoy Beyonce’s performance with the Dixie Chicks of Daddy Lessons the other day at the CMAs. (This video no longer works all the way through with headphones).

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