WiR 4.27.08: Ants Stumping

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This week was a big week for the democratic process all over the world, and a cause for celebration! We had all sorts of victories and a few crushing defeats. Join me for the highs and lows of our democratic world.

mugabeSeriously folks (or maybe I should say srsly) it looks like Mugabe might have to finally concede defeat in Zimbabwe after a month of ridiculous assertions that the voting was too close to call. I mean I know we here in the United States have never had a bogus election or any thing like that, but this Zimbabwe stuff is just silly. When you've already posted the results from polling place to polling place it doesn't take a genius to figure out there's been a landslide.




And in Paraguay, less than a landslide but a victory for change anyway, Fernando Lugo won on a message of reform and tolerance. And while he may be a bishop and he beat a woman from a political party named Colorado, it seems it's still for the best that he won. We can hope that he spreads a little change our way.

Now I know that we’re not here to talk about the conventional stories that you could read better coverage from the Mainstream Media, but I can't help but mention that your own Jeff Larson went on the campaign trail this week. I was in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA to get the vote out for my man, Barack Obama. I have never gone out to campaign for anyone before, so I had no idea what to expect. I suppose I was sort of thinking that I would get there and some precinct captain or party elder or anyone would give me the run-down on the game plan and they'd split us into teams and then we'd get our assignments for this neighborhood or that one and we'd systematically bring people to the polls so they would close that ever-elusive 10% gap and pull out a victory just like Lil' Wayne. Well so much for expectations! I arrived late after a terrible ride from New York and perhaps that's why I couldn't make heads or tails of the organization. I had talked to a couple of very nice people on the phone and their directions to me were basically, "see what they need at Obama HQ." Okay, fine. So the people at Obama HQ are running around like crazy and they have just enough time to wonder who the heck I was and then send me out to hang fliers on front doors with a couple of other confused volunteers.

In their defense, the people who sent me out did give me a few instructions, "don't talk to anyone and don't hang these fliers on the wrong doors because we are targeting only people who are actually already Barack supporters." I guess my partner didn't seem to understand that message because as we headed out into the predominantly African-American neighborhood we'd been assigned she proceeded to approach anyone and everyone to gab with them about the election. In the course of our time out she managed to accuse one black man who told us he supported John McCain of "pulling a late April Fool's Day" prank on her and tell another black man who we encountered twice and that she didn't recognize, "I guess you all do look the same." That was enough for me to realize that if I was going to be helpful to Obama, I'd need to work on my own terms. I found myself realizing that while I've heard about self organizing systems like ants, I had stumbled upon the Great Inefficient Ant Colony which was Barack Obama's field campaign.

Later that evening at a stump speech at the University of Pittsburgh I remembered why I had come out to Pennsylvania.barack Barack talked about all the things that mattered to me. Going so far as to call for less money to be spent on the war in Iraq and more to be spent on our crumbling infrastructure. He mentioned that we need to build our educational institutions up so that we don't fall behind (like we have been doing, see my last week in review about the misconceptions surrounding climate change). He mentioned universal health care and keeping our nation in good standing with our neighbors so that we have a leg to stand on the next time we need to argue a moral high ground. These are all the core progressive ideas that most Americans and even Hillary Clinton agree upon, which is why I'd suggest we all support either Democrat come November. But what got me out to Pittsburgh that day was what made Obama unique. He is the only candidate who speaks of fundamental change to the way we run elections. This is more than rhetoric, too. If you look at Obama versus Clinton or McCain you see that Obama is the only candidate that actually has virtually 100% individual contributions. I tend to be a bit of a cynic when it comes to politics and politicians with the rule of thumb that if you follow the money you see where the candidate's allegiance lies. In this case Obama's allegiance lies with the American people 100% versus Hillary's 91% and McCain's 93%. That website www.opensecrets.org is a powerful tool and I encourage all of you to take a look at where these candidates get their moola. Then, if you're as convinced as I am that Obama is our candidate, go on and help him out.

The next day I hit the ground and reminded people to vote.ants I think after about six or seven hours I had definitely influenced five or six people who had been meaning to vote, but had forgotten or didn't know where to go, so it felt like I'd done something. Then I got a ride to a local brewery to watch results with other volunteers and of course we were all disappointed to see Hillary take it by 9.4% (yes, it was really 9.4 and yes, I do consider that better than ten). What happened? Well I think it comes down to the white working class vote and I'm not sure what to do about that. And while I had a great experience out there as a first-time campaigner, I think better organization probably couldn't have hurt on the ground in PA.

So that's all the election stuff that I could cram into one Week-in-Review. The trend I hope you all see is that change is the new black, as it were. So put on your change shirts and pants, slick back your hair and dance like Deiter.

PS - I realize this sort of doesn't support the whole "vote Obama" slant I've got on this here WiR, but I just couldn't leave you all without mentioning a stumble-upon video that I think fits in with our general disregard to the Mainstream Media. It's all about how Ron Paul is actually the "people's candidate;" an assertion that I disagree with as you will see if you look through the comments on the video. It's also interesting to look at Google Trends on, "Ron Paul, Hitler" or "Ron Paul, Porn." If Jerry Day is to be taken at his word then I think we will see that every candidate in our history would loose in an election against porn. Porn is just too powerful. Again, I agree with him that Broadcast and Print Media are sorely under-representing interest in Ron Paul, but that doesn't mean he'd win an election. I say if you don't want change, vote for porn.

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