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Register to Race


In some States across the USA, today is the last day for registering to vote in next month’s elections. In New York State and others, that deadline is Friday, October 10. There are no extensions that I’m aware of beyond this Friday. If I have any American readers who haven’t yet registered to vote, I would urge them to do so: visit this site for information about your how to register in your home State.

In the last few weeks, I’ve run into people who won’t be voting for either Presidential candidate, seeing the system as inherently corrupt. To a large degree, I’m with them – and I guess that was one of many reasons I didn’t become a U.S. citizen until last year. But I have learned this past year (via the School Board election) that all politics is local, and even if you believe that voting “only encourages them,” I’d just ask that you have a long look at the different positions that will be up for election in November, which range from that of United States President, through to Senators, Congressmen, State Assemblymen, and County Executives. The closer these positions get to your neighborhood, the more your vote can affect your own community. Local politicians are not inherently evil: most of them do their (thankless) jobs for little remuneration, and out of a sense of civic duty. And then some of them have hidden agendas, and if you don’t watch out, they’ll spring them on you when they’re in office. So pay attention to your local candidates even if you choose to sit out the big one.
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A couple of very interesting links came my way yesterday, which both bring in the issue of race into the race… In the first instance, author Michael Cohen argued in the New York Times is not as important a factor as some might think:

“For all the discussions about Mr. Obama’s supposed exoticness to white Americans, a recent New York Times poll indicates that 66 percent of voters think Mr. Obama “shares the values most Americans live by” — a higher number than that received by Mr. McCain.”

Cohen’s piece has elicited 171 responses at time of writing. I don’t normally look at the comments sections (especially in YouTube videos), as they can get nasty very quickly, but these were more interesting than most. There was this:

“I have been working the phones for the Democratic party for Obama. At least 5% of the callers reached will freely use the N word to explain why they are supporting the opposition.
In Florida race is a factor.”

Yes, it’s sad, but it’s to be expected – especially if the writer was cold-calling Republicans as well as Democrats. Is 5% of the American population racist? Absolutely. Is 5% of the British population racist? How else can you explain the British National Party’s success in council elections? And let’s not even talk about the percentage of French people who vote for their National Front part. Wouldn’t we all (iJamming! readers at least) love that above number to be 0%? Yes, and if Obama becomes President and does a good job, we’ll be on the right track.

And so, given that I accept the above statistic, I was more interested in this anecdotal response. (You can read all of it in comment #20)

“Down the long dirt driveway from my house in the mountains of western North Carolina, live my neighbors. They’re both in their 70s and are down to earth, traditional mountain folks. They have a huge garden and a pond stocked with fish. They buy nothing on credit. They’ve raised their children and they’re active in the lives of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When I roll into town, I’m often greeted with a bag of fresh vegetables from their garden. When I say goodbye, and head back up north, they end our meeting with “if there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.” Just good people.
They’ve voted Republican most of their lives. They were Jesse Helms supporters.
When I ran into them, on Saturday, they told me that they were voting for Barack Obama. The wife, of this solid team, said that ‘Palin wasn’t fooling anyone.” The wife almost spat out those words, she was so disgusted with Palin. And of McCain, they both said that they thought he was crazy. Their words: “crazy”. They both then listed all the reasons why they wouldn’t vote for McCain and why they thought Obama was the better choice. Mostly, they said that Obama pulled himself up by the bootstraps, that he was smart and most likely to solve the economic problems facing this country. They didn’t buy all the garbage that McCain and Palin were spouting. In fact, if anything, they were offended by that low-road tactics.”

The writer is a passionate Obama supporter, and took his 8-year old daughter to hear the Senator speak in Ashville, NC, on Sunday. As he was leaving,

“…Who did we run into? Our neighbors from down the road. For the first time in 25 years they skipped church for something other than childbirth or illness. The husband, looking up at the crowds was deeply moved. He said, “can you believe that this school was segregated until the 60s and look at all these people.””

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Secondly, the tireless Jim Fouratt sent out a link to this radio ad yesterday.

It’s a message from 81-year old Ralph Stanley of the Stanley Brothers, of whom the generally authoritative allmusic.com writes, “If you even think you know bluegrass, you have to know Ralph and Carter Stanley, the Stanley Brothers… mountain boys who took those mountains and their traditions and their songs and wove them into a traditional bluegrass sound of utter purity, simplicity, and astonishing beauty.” So yes, this is one of your good ol’ mountain boys asking his fellow Virginians to vote for the half-black guy. Will it make a difference? Let’s see, shall we?

I had lunch with Jim Fouratt a few months ago. It was Primary Season, and Fouratt caught me off guard by lambasting Obama in the face of his preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. “Only Hillary can beat the Republicans,” he assured me, and knowing of his passionate and life-long involvement in politics (this is the guy who organized the first ever Central Park Be-In and then co-founded the Yippies, for Chrissake), he had me worried. Fouratt’s recent bulk e-mails have been concluding as follows:

Obama gets my vote: The Supreme Court and all Federal judicial appointments are my litmus test!… so stop please with all the grumbling! Step up and keep him on track …. otherwise the “handlers” will push him to the right … power to the people

And so… there are assumptions to be made about Americans. And then there is hope. See you at the Polls, four weeks today.

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