Wednesday, November 05, 2008

remember, remember the 4th of November

As I noted somewhere in the rush of jittery posts I've made over the last few days, I spent Monday afternoon at an Obama phone bank in Culver City, calling identified Obama supporters to make sure they knew where to vote the next day. It was an interesting experience. I was really nervous to start out, because I don't particularly like talking to strangers, but it turned out that I was mostly leaving messages. People in battleground states or swing states, like those I was calling in Colorado and North Carolina, were either not home or so sick of campaign phone calls that they were no longer answering the phone. I got quite a few numbers that had been "temporarily disconnected" and even a couple people hanging up on me, but for the most part people were nice. I suppose that's the nice thing about calling pre-identified Obama supporters- you're less likely to get the raving Republican lunatics who just want to lecture you.

I ran into Zoe at the phone bank, and Andres and Jennifer Bash both happened to be working (on Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, damn them) at the studio where the phone bank was held, so I got to see them briefly too. Anyway, Zoe and I set up our call lists at a table and went to it. For the most part, calling was uneventful. The funniest call was Zoe's- she got stuck on the phone with an old man "who sounded as though he didn't have his teeth in" for at least ten minutes, listening to him extoll Obama's virtues and also repeatedly complement Zoe on her speaking voice. I got some people who said they were voting for McCain, which was disconcerting given that, as I said, these were supposed to be Obama supporters. I had one woman who was undecided, and refused to let me help her decide. A few people really seemed happy to have the number I provided that they could call for a ride to the polls, and even more were glad to know their polling place. One woman answered the phone and, when I asked for her husband, told me he had recently passed away, but not to worry, because she was voting for Obama.

It was strange, sitting in a giant empty studio stage with a bunch of strangers on their cell phones, calling other strangers. I liked overhearing everyone's style of cold-calling- some people stuck to the script religiously, some gave it their own spin, some deviated completely and preached about how great Obama was. It was tempting to do that, sometimes, but I pretty much stuck to the script, because my nervous feeling never went COMPLETELY away. In the end I was glad I did it- I felt like I was actually helping, like I could possibly be making a difference in how Election Day went. And maybe I did, who knows.

I woke up Election Day morning, after about 2 anxious hours of sleep, at 5am. It was dark and somehow felt different than all other dark 5am mornings I've had in Los Angeles- and not just because it was raining. Everyone was still asleep, but something just felt like today would be monumental.

And was it ever!

I was up at 5am to get to Steve and Kirk's house by 6am and in turn make it to Brentwood by 6:30. We were heading out for a last-ditch effort to get people to vote NO on Proposition 8, a the ammendment to the California Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage in the state. I was almost more nervous about this than I was about Obama winning, because every single poll showed the Prop 8 race as extremely close. The stupid LDS Church poured boatloads of money into the Yes on 8 campaign, and it showed in the polls.

Steve and Kirk and I arrived at a Ralph's parking lot in Brentwood, and were assigned to hand out palm cards at a Christian Scientist Church, which turned out to be literally just across the street from the Ralph's. How convenient! We staked out the area- we weren't allowed within 100 feet of the polling place, and the area was marked by two yellow signs on posts. We sort of formed a triangle around the busy intersection where the church was and gave a palm card to everyone who walked towards it- "Good morning! Are you planning on voting today? Would you mind voting No on Proposition 8?" That was my spiel- I figured politeness was better than just bombarding them with "No on Prop 8! It's unfair and wrong!" The training we'd gone to on Saturday told us to do something in the middle of those two, but for whatever reason I went with my way. It seemed to work pretty well. It was a very anti-prop 8 area, which was encouraging, for the most part. The people who were pro-prop 8 were mostly polite as well. One guy exclaimed "I'm voting FOR it! Have a great day though!" when I asked him to vote no. How odd.

The weirdest thing that happened was around 8am, when a little old lady pulled into a parking spot right near where I was standing. She got out, and I approached her with my handy palm card.

ME: "Good morning, are you going to vote today?"
HER: "Yes."
ME: "Please vote no on Proposition 8." (I try to hand her the card.)
HER: "You know, there's such a thing as a sacrament."
ME: "Um, that's true."
HER: (pats me on the shoulder) "Next you'll want to have sex with animals and you'll put that on the ballot."
ME: (pause) I don't think I will, but thank you for your opinion and have a nice day!

We were supposed to do that- wish "the opposition" a nice day and disengage as quickly as possible. But it was REALLY HARD to disengage from this little two-faced kindly-looking GRANDMOTHER after the sacrament comment when the old witch was SMILING AND PATTING ME ON THE SHOULDER. EEWWW DON'T TOUCH ME YOU BIGOTED LITTLE CRETIN. She went into vote when I turned away from her, and I had half a mind to slash her tires or key her car or something, but I figured that would be less than productive.

For the most part, though, our little polling place was fairly uneventful. There were spans where hardly anyone would come by, and the 3 of us would just be standing around, bored, on our respective corners. We kind of all wished that we'd had somewhere with a little more foot traffic, but by the time our shift was over at 10am we had gotten to at least a couple hundred people, I'd say. And most of them seemed to be voting no on 8. Woo!

We left at ten because we all had to vote, and Steve had to get to work. I drove home from their house in Larchmont and went to vote at the elementary school on Wilton that was our polling place. I ran into Nausheen in line, which made the hour-long wait go a lot faster. And then I VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA! It was an amazing feeling, after all these months of being behind him, after defending him against so many Hillary Clinton fans and following the news and the blogosphere as though my life depended on it, to actually VOTE for this amazing man. I'm sure I probably wasn't supposed to take that picture, but I couldn't help it.

I went home then and anxiously surfed the blogs, looking for updates and news that I knew didn't exist yet, and then I took a nap, because I was tired and all but mostly just to kill time before the election returns started coming in. When I woke up I made cookies and headed to Kevin, Lauren and Will Adashek's house in Santa Monica. I was stuck in traffic on Pico when Ohio and Pennsylvania were called for Obama, and I started squealing and bouncing around in my seat so that the guys in the truck next to me looked at me like I was insane. Which I am.

At Kevin's house were a bunch of 2nd year DPs (in Kevin's class, I am now a "3rd year") and I watched the returns. I had my laptop with me and pulled up a map of the United States so that Russell, who is Canadian, could follow along with the states that were going red or blue just like the rest of us- he wasn't forced to memorize them in 5th grade like everyone else.

Everything was looking good two minutes before 8pm- as Dan Adlerstein put it, "Barack Obama will be declared President in two minutes." It was true- he had 207 electoral votes and was obviously going to take California. As long as he took Oregon, Washington, he would win. But it was hard to believe, even then, with 120 seconds until the world changed. Kevin scoffed at me still being worried, and he had every right to- but it was just too good to be true...

CNN had a weird little pause, where nothing in particular happened and Wolf Blitzer looked as though he was about to pee in his pants. And then they called it- "Barack Obama is elected President of the United States", said the screen. I had expected this moment to be filled with screams and wild jubilation, but instead we all just sat there, stunned into silence at what had just happened, and then slowly started laughing, crying, etc. There was no wild celebration, just pure joy in the form of "I can't believe it." Low-key, yes, but it was still a moment I'll remember forever.

I would have given anything to be at Grant Park- I really, really missed Chicago, watching it on TV, and Chicago at a monumental time like this must have been incredible. People I know who were there could barely see Obama and could only barely hear the speech, but still, THEY WERE THERE. They will always have that. What an amazing thing to be able to say. I can only hope that someday I too will be able to stand in Obama's presence and hear him speak.

Eventually, people started to go home. I waited around for awhile, hoping they'd call one of the 5 crazy states that hadn't been called yet. But eventually I figured I'd go home and watch the internet for the Prop 8 returns. Peter came by for awhile when I got home, and told me about the Prop 8 protests that were already happening in West Hollywood, where he'd been watching the returns with Miguel and Mike. I told him about my encounter with Crazy Animal Sex Lady.

What a day. When I went to bed it was pretty clear that Prop 8 was going to pass, which is fucking ridiculous, but the rest of the California props went good ways. Even Prop 3, which I'd voted for (the children's hospitals bond) and which was defeated, I was ok with being defeated-- apparently there have been equally large bonds distributed to children's hospitals in recent years, and the money from those haven't been entirely used up yet. I think it's probably good, with the shitty economy, to use the money you have before asking for more.

Sadly, Arizona and Florida also voted to ban gay marriage. This is clearly going to become the equal rights cause of my generation- and I say, bring it on.

Just as sad is Arkansas Act 1, which passed, and which bans cohabitating couples from adopting or becoming foster parents. Subtext: gay couples living together cannot now adopt or foster children in Arkansas. I honestly don't know if this or Prop 8 is more fucked up-- it's just about a tie, but to deny a child a loving family and a secure home just because two people might be gay is absolutely absurd and does a lot more to HURT families than to "protect" them, as the Act's proponents say it will do.

On a happy note, both Colorado and South Dakota defeated bans on abortion. Most notably, Coloradans turned down a bizarrely written initiative which dictated that life begins at the MOMENT of conception, thus qualifying all pregnant women to be noted as "two people" on the US Census, and, as Will put it, allowing them to drive in the carpool lane.

So it was mostly a wonderful day, with a few major setbacks in terms of human rights. I stayed up late into the night reading blog posts and newspapers from around the world, watching youtube clips of people rejoicing in the streets of every major city I can think of. It was an incredible feelings, to be a part of history like this, a feeling I don't think anyone in my generation has felt. Sure, we were "a part of history" when September 11th happened, but that's hardly history one WANTS to be a part of. I can't remember the last time I was proud to be an American, but I was yesterday, more proud and ecstatic than I can put into words. I slept better last night than I have in a very, very long time.


Via Jack, who got it from Kat. I wish I had seen this yesterday!

favorite headlines from Election Day


(tacky favorite) from The Mirror (UK): IT'S THE BLACK HOUSE: Obama Is New President

from The National Enquirer: BAM BAM BAM! (huh?)






Tuesday, November 04, 2008

music to my ears

"President-Elect Barack Obama."

The only thing that could possibly make me happier right now is a solid defeat of Proposition 8. I literally don't remember the last time I was so happy. Tonight is the most amazing night I have ever lived through.

I voted!!


good signs

I'm not going to write out all the city initiatives I care about- it's too late, I'm too tired, and I have to get up too early. I have barely even read the Los Angeles ones myself-- I'll probably save them to read in line when I vote tomorrow, or for a good thorough conversation with Steve and Kirk in the car on the way back from Brentwood in the morning. But I want to point out two possibly important, possibly just superstitious good omens for the Obama campaign:

1) The Pittsburgh Steelers won tonight. The Steelers were playing the Washington Redskins. Legend (according to Slog) has it that when the Washington Redskins win the night before an election, the incumbent party is always elected. And tonight they lost. Hallelujah!

2) Dixville Notch, New Hampshire overwhelmingly voted for Obama tonight at midnight Eastern Standard Time. New Hampshire law allows towns with fewer than 100 residents to open their polls at midnight on Election Day and close them as soon as all the residents have cast their ballots. Dixville Notch has leaned Republican ever since Hubert Humphrey in 1968-- but tonight they chose Obama at 15 votes to McCain's 6. Let's hope it's an early indicator of a national trend.

Time for bed now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

2 hours

2 hours until it's officially ELECTION DAY 2008!! I cannot wait. Literally. I don't know when was the last time I was so antsy... People have already started voting in New Hampshire! EEEEEEEEE. I love how Election Day has kind of become like a holiday. It's a holiday the same way Big Game Day is a holiday- the sort of day where you KNOW something amazing can happen. I am so addicted to political blogs and youtube clips from the campaign trail that I don't know how I'll ever get to sleep tonight...

So to pass the time before I have to go to bed (early, to get up at 5am and make to Steve's by 6 for No on Prop 8 stuff), here is how I'm voting, or recommend YOU vote (in places I care about but am not registered, like back home), on a whole bunch of things. I'm sure no one will listen, but writing it out will help me think it all through, so deal.

PRESIDENT: Barack Obama

This one is one big fat DUH, for both anyone who's been reading this blog and for anyone who has ever met me. I have never cared so much about a politician or a campaign in my entire life. The only presidential debate I paid more attention to was the mock debate we held in 8th grade in 1996, when I was assigned to be Pat Choate, Ross Perot's running mate, and we won by claiming that the Reform Party supported gay marriage. To this day I have no idea if Perot supported gay marriage or not- my "running mate," Vicky Godfrey, and I just said it because it's what we believed and because we knew it would make us win the election at our liberal San Francisco elementary school. But I digress-- VOTE FOR OBAMA!! He's our only hope (yes, Star Wars reference intended).


I don't know why my Uncle Owen didn't become a politician earlier, but he didn't, and the fact that he is trying to do so now is amazing and hopeful for San Francisco. He is one of the most articulate, passionate people I know, and he is running on a clearly defined platform of affordable housing, improving the quality of public education in San Francisco, developing environmentally friendly city programs, and improving the public transit system around the Bay Area. TO LEARN MORE, GO TO and vote for my uncle!


PROP 1A: Yes!

How can you not like the idea of a $10 billion bond for a high-speed railway system in California? It would allow you to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours. TWO FRICKIN' HOURS. It would also take millions of cars off the road at any given time, clean the state's air, and encourage travel throughout the state. How can you go wrong?

PROP 2: Yes!

This is the "treatment of farm animals" proposition, and it basically says that farmers will be required to house their food-producing animals humanely, so that they are able to turn around and sit down and stand up at will. The main two arguments against this prop are that a) it will mean more eggs and such will come from out of state, or (gasp!) Mexico, and b) it will mean food costs a little more. And by "a little more" I mean like $.02 more. People also say that the proposition doesn't take the humane treatment far enough and that we should be doing more for farm animals, which I completely agree with, but I do think that this is a start, and we have to start somewhere.

PROP 3: Yes!

Children's Hospitals. 'Nuff said.


Didn't we JUST vote on this same initiative 3 years ago? And also 2 years ago? Uh, yes. It's already been decided. This is the load of crap that wants to require parental notification and some sort of waiting period for minors who are pregnant before they can have an abortion. The issues with it should be obvious: not all minors who might get pregnant have loving, supportive parental units at home to help them through this trying time and are just happy to be able to take care of their daughters. This proposition is utter bullshit and will put more teenaged girls in danger of being thrown out of their homes or disowned than it will help make a decision about pregnancy. You want to stop teenage pregnancy, why don't you start funding more comprehensive sex education in the public school system? THAT is a win-win solution.

PROP 5: Yes!

Increased alternatives for drug treatment and taking the burden off the jail system for rehabilitation of non-violent drug crimes. Sounds good to me.

PROP 6: No!

I don't know much about this one, but I don't like the whole "denying illegal immigrants the right to bail" thing that comes with it. The whole thing seems like it will only perpetuate an already delinquent criminal justice system by jailing kids who are 14 and up and are convicted of crimes related to gang violence. Yuck. At that age a kid is still impressionable- why lock him up and refuse to let him change?

PROP 7: No!

Long story short, this prop has good intentions but is written so badly that it provides endless loopholes regarding clean energy laws, and in the end will actually hurt California. It will effectively close most of the small energy providers in the state. Also, if the Sierra Club says it's bad for the environment, you know it's actually bad for the environment.


This is one of the closest races in the country: the proposition that seeks to ban same-sex marriage in the California Constitution. WHY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE EACH OTHER MAKING IT OFFICIAL? I legitimately don't understand people who are afraid gay people getting married will somehow affect the way in which straight people marry each other. It is utterly beyond my comprehension. I get that some people disapprove of the gay lifestyle, and while that is idiotic, I know that it's going to take a long time for everyone's mind to be changed (it's like the Civil Rights movement all over again). What I DON'T get is that they think banning gay marriage will somehow make all the gay people disappear. Do they really think that? How ridiculous can people get? The worst part about this whole issue (well, other than the denial of basic human rights) is my own inability to argue against the point The Other Side makes when they say "marriage is between a man and a woman." I mean, NO IT IS NOT, marriage is between TWO PEOPLE WHO LOVE EACH OTHER, but how do you explain that to someone who is so stuck on their definition of the word "marriage?" (Can you tell I've had this conversation a couple times??) So yeah, NO ON PROP 8-- IT IS UNFAIR AND WRONG.

PROP 9: No

I don't know much about this one either, but it seems to say that an unlimited number of victims and their families can attend a criminal's parole hearing. While I don't necessarily side with the criminals here, it seems like a huge victim-presence could sway the decision of a judge or parole board, and this is never a good thing.

PROP 10: No!

Financial incentives for alternative vehicles that run on a fuel that is not the right direction to go in terms of renewable energy? No thank you. I don't know if this was actually written by the natural gas companies or not, but I don't think natural gas cars are the ONLY way to go for alternative vehicles, and if there are financial incentives, they should be for all kinds of alternative vehicles that reduce emissions.

PROP 11: Yes

I didn't really have an opinion on this until Steve told me about it, and it's still a lot of mumbojumbo, but basically it has to do with redistricting and it's good.

PROP 12: Yes

Housing for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. I think this prop helps them with mortgages and stuff. I don't really know how this will play out given the current subprime mortgage crisis or whatever it is, and the crappy housing market, I don't think it's a bad idea. They've served in two horrible wars that should not have happened in the first place- least we can do is help them find somewhere to live.

More on San Francisco and LA city props when I get back from Sean's house in a little bit.

2 days

I did a decent job of keeping my mind off the election this weekend- in fact, I'm not quite sure how I did it. There was Halloween, then Saturday spent almost entirely with Steve and Kirk, and today I watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Chris and then saw Rachel Getting Married with Steve, Kirk and Will. So I kept busy, emphatically so, in an attempt to drown out the anxiety.

But oh, how it hovers.

And so, now there is nothing more to do than throw myself into the Obama phone banks tomorrow, something I've been avoiding because I don't like talking to strangers, and to pass out voter information for No on Prop 8 on Tuesday morning, again with Steve and Kirk. I have to be a part of this election, more than I have been thus far. So far I've given into my fear of being told off by people who disagree with me... but the time has come to suck it up and do what I can. Because honestly, if we end up with McCain as president and a statewide ban on gay marriage... well, I don't know what would happen, but I know it wouldn't be good. It makes me sick to think about a Supreme Court appointed by McCain, and even sicker to think of people like Steve and Kirk not being able to get married if they want to.

That's what I'm doing. What are you doing, if you can spare the time to do it? Go here to find an Obama phone bank near you:

Or here to help with No on Prop 8:

In a nutshell, you can do these things;

1. donate to your campaigns
2. volunteer
3. just TALK to people about how you're voting and why. you never know how many minds you can change!

Soon there will be pictures up from this weekend, and even sooner I'll put up a whole list of California and general election initiatives and how I am voting on them (because I am oh so influential!). But for now, please just think about doing everything you can to make sure Obama wins on Tuesday and Prop 8 goes down in flames. Oh, and hey, vote yes on Prop 1A, because it would be awfully nice to be able to get home to San Francisco in a scant two hours on the high speed rail.