Tag Archives: Indiana

vote early and beat the crowd!

At the Obama rally we attended on Wednesday, we heard one message repeatedly from volunteers by the line to get in and from the volunteer organizer who was the first speaker: Vote early.

I don’t know how the laws work in the rest of the states, but in Indiana we can go to any of several locations in our county and cast an early ballot. This isn’t the same as voting absentee: the ballots are collected, sorted by precinct, and counted later along with all the rest cast on Nov. 4.

Encouraging people to vote early ensures that those supporters’ votes are cast regardless of what happens on Election Day. You don’t have to worry about a long line, or the precinct running out of ballots, or having to work, or finding childcare, or being sick, or forgetting to take your ID with you, or it being too wet/cold/snowy outside. You can go vote any day that you have a few free minutes; and if you do forget your ID, or some other mix-up occurs, you can try again the next day.

I love the idea. I may do it, although I get a huge shot of satisfaction from actually entering a voting booth on Election Day and marking the boxes on my (paper!) ballot. But I’m frankly nervous about our local government’s ability to safely store the early ballots and then reliably produce them when the time comes. I’ll probably go to the County Clerk’s office and ask some questions about procedures, and then decide.

If you live somewhere that allows early voting, why not go ahead and vote today? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done your civic duty and helped forge the future of our country. Then, when Nov. 4 rolls around, if you just can’t bear to stay away from the polls, you can give rides to elderly friends or others who need some assistance.

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in the presence of greatness

We were very, very glad we took the kids along to see this potentially historic event.

We were very, very glad we took the kids along to see this potentially historic event.

Our trip to see Barack Obama speak in Indianapolis yesterday was worth every minute of the drive, the wait in the incredibly long line, and the additional wait in the damp, cool outdoor grandstand where we sat. The man is a tremendous presence, and he spoke of working together, of making our country and the world a better place, of making sure that average people can lead good lives. He was phenomenal.

A small portion of the line that snaked through the Indiana State Fairgrounds

A small portion of the line that snaked through the Indiana State Fairgrounds

We arrived an hour before the gates opened, and the line was already at least a quarter mile long, wrapping around the buildings of the Indiana State Fairgrounds, with more people arriving constantly from all directions. It was the most diverse crowd I’ve ever been part of — black and white; older people, 20-somethings, and elementary school groups; union groups wearing matching shirts; people in all varieties of Obama-wear. While we waited, volunteers went up and down the line asking people to consider volunteering to help the campaign for a few hours between now and Nov. 4. Other folks demonstrated the spirit of free enterprise by selling buttons, hats, and t-shirts.

Once the gates opened, the line moved fairly quickly. At the base of the Security personnel checked all bags and belongings, and everyone walked through a metal detector. Volunteers were everywhere, directing people to seating. One of them pointed out the way to the infield, where we could be near the stage. It sounded good, so we gave it a try; and yes, we were probably only about 50 feet from the podium, but we were also standing in about 4 inches of mud — and would be for at least 3 hours, packed into the crowd. Sitting in the grandstand began to look like a good idea, so we moved up into the seats. Because we were there so early, we got excellent seats near the center and not too far up, close enough to see the speakers’ faces.

A small Obama fan

A small Obama fan

One of the two (visible) crews of sharpshooters who kept up constant surveillance of the entire area

One of the two (visible) crews of sharpshooters who kept up constant surveillance of the entire area

We were surrounded by happy, excited humanity. A couple with a sweet and charming 9-month-old girl sat in front of us. The 2 hours of waiting passed quickly, and the constant influx of people continued. An excellent assortment of music played over the loudspeakers; we agreed that we’d buy a CD compilation of Obama campaign music (and it looks like we can!). We were interested to see six sharpshooters setting up on top of two large vans to either side of the stage area; their weapons were in bags, not visible but within easy reach, and they spent the entire event scanning the surrounding area with binoculars. (Talk about a stressful job: constant vigilance, all the while hoping you never have to do what you’ve been trained to do.)

The sea of diverse humanity

The sea of diverse humanity

Overflow people were directed to the infield.

Overflow people were directed to the infield.

By 11:45, when the first speaker came to the podium, the grandstand was full (it holds about 14,000) and latecomers were being directed to the infield. We heard from a volunteer organizer, from the Indianapolis congressman, and from Jill Long Thompson, who’s running for governor. Then there was a short break, followed by an amazing new song; I didn’t know what it was at the time, but told Doug that it sounded like Lionel Ritchie. Turns out I was right: It’s a song called “Eternity,” with Ritchie’s singing mixed with Obama’s words. You can hear a sample here. (It gives me chills.) At the same moment, Obama’s motorcade entered the fairgounds area, and the crowd erupted.

First on the stage was Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who was in the running for VP. He gave an excellent short speech, including the story of how his father took him to see Lyndon Johnson speak in Indianapolis — the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Indiana. Bayh brought his two sons to hear Obama yesterday, hoping that they’ll once again witness a Democrat carrying the state. It appears astonishingly possible. Then, Bayh introduced “the next President of the United States: Barack Obama!”

Obama walked onto the stage to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising.” He began by commenting, “What a magnificent crowd!” I agree, particularly because it was the middle of the day on a rainy, cool weekday in Indiana. He spoke for about 45 minutes, covering all his major campaign themes but also touching on some new points and covering economic issues in more depth. (Speaking about those who will get a tax cut: “Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you are making less than a quarter million dollars a year? [Pretty much every hand goes up] Yeah, that looks like a majority!”) Several times, he got really fired up in a way I haven’t seen at the Democratic Convention or in the debates, and it was marvelous to hear the emotion and commitment in his voice. As he finished, the music came up: Stevie Wonder singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Perfect.

As we made our way out, my son commented, “That was amazing.” We left feeling energized, excited, hopeful, and most of all positive. Obama made no personal attacks; he talked about the need to make changes that will transform our country and help all Americans. It was a message of cohesion, of national pride and strength, of the hopes that we all share, and of his readiness to lead the country forward.

It was a great day, and we heard a great message from a great man.

Obama field trip

On Wednesday, we’re going to hear Barack Obama speak at the Change We Need rally in Indianapolis. Yes, that’s right: the capital of Indiana, a traditionally Red state that this year is wavering toward going Blue. A wavering so distinct that the Democratic candidate is coming here less than a month before the election. Who would ever have thought it possible?

We’re taking our daughter (a high-school senior) out of school to come with us; her boyfriend’s family has also agreed that he can go. What better civics/government lesson could they receive than watching our great American democratic system in action?

I Am Excited to see and hear Obama in person.

95 hours and counting

This entry is brought to you courtesy of my friend Mark and the other fine folks at his company, Stratis Technologies. If you or anyone you know has anything to do with banking, check them out; they’re awesome.

Still no electricity at my house.

A survey conducted this morning indicated that 100% of women writing this blog vastly prefer washing their hair in warm water, rather than cold.

Hurricane damage in southern Indiana

Hurricane damage in southern Indiana

As I was driving here to my temporary office, two local DJs were discussing the post-midwest-hurricane situation. One got his power back this morning; the other still has no electricity. The lucky one commented in a joking way that it’s all about your attitude. “Hey,” the other one responded, “I have an attitude — it’s just bad, that’s all.” She also suggested that he could bite her attitude.

Now there’s a sentiment I can relate to. My husband and daughter are sunny, optimistic people who can weather any storm (in this case, literally) and maintain a positive outlook. I, on the other hand, have trouble seeing a clearly half-empty glass as half full; and despite full awareness that I’m lucky to have running water, an intact house, and a healthy family, I want electricity and I want it RIGHT NOW.

But that isn’t going to happen. Our electric company is saying that they’ll have the remaining power-less 25,000+ Indiana customers back on the grid by midnight Saturday, and I think we’ll be near the end of the line. I spoke to a technician yesterday when he walked through our yard, inspecting lines, and he said that although our immediate problem is a downed wires in the woods behind our house, those wires connect to other wires that are also down, which connect to other wires that are also down — and all those lines aren’t just down, they’re tangled in trees and branches and will have to be sorted out and repaired by guys on foot because trucks can’t reach many of the locations. This is part of the price we pay for loving trees and living among them.

As soon as this event has left the collective memory, and generators are once again to be found at the local Home Depot, we’re buying one. Yes, I know that nothing like this incredible wind damage has happened here before, and it’s unlikely to happen again. But I also know for sure that this is the last time my family will go for days without a refrigerator and hot water. Once has been more than enough.

if Clinton’s campaign goes with the “nuclear option,” I won’t vote for her

Tuesday I’ll be voting in the Indiana Democratic primary, and I’m thoroughly excited that my vote will actually count for something this time around. For a little while, the race was running neck and neck, but for the last few days Real Clear Politics has Clinton’s lead increasing; today she’s in front by an average of almost 6%. At the same time, Obama’s lead in North Carolina keeps shrinking: today it’s averaging 7%.

I assume that these shifts are due in large part to the knee-capping operation undertaken last week by the Rev. Jeremiah “Throw Barack Under the Bus” Wright. They make me nervous, because they seem to herald a continuation of the race for the nomination. I’d been among those fervently hoping that a strong show in Indiana and a blow-out in North Carolina would seal things up for Obama.

And then this morning, I saw this on the Huffington Post:

http://cnycircus.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/hillary-clinton.jpgHillary Clinton’s campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.

With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party’s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could — when the committee meets at the end of this month — try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives.

Sure, there’s that fact that making such an attempt “would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate.” But when my husband and I were on a walk during this beautiful spring evening, I realized that I have no doubt at all that if such a shift occurred, perhaps following unexpectedly strong Clinton showings in the next several primaries, Hillary and Co. would absolutely undertake their “nuclear option” to force through a convention decision on her behalf. I think they’d do whatever it took to get her the candidacy.

And here’s the next thought that came to me, very unexpectedly, on my walk: if Clinton and her people pull this kind of stunt, I won’t vote for her in the general election.

My husband’s immediate response to my saying so was, “But any Democrat is better than McCain.” I agree with him. But if she does this, then she’ll demonstrate something I’ve thought all along, and which has influenced my decision to vote for Obama: when it comes right down to it, I believe that Clinton’s campaign is 100% All About Her. If she shows that she’s willing to do anything and everything to get the nomination, including stomp all over the process and ignore the wishes of Democratic voters, then she’ll show me that she’s no better a person than the worst Republican. I won’t vote for someone like that.

It’s the first glimmer I’ve had into understanding why people vote for Ralph Nader; they see such fundamental flaws in the candidates of the two major parties that they refuse to vote for either of them. I hope that Clinton won’t cause me — and, potentially, a lot of other people — to leave the President box empty on my ballot in November.

Update

This morning, the Huffington Post says the Clinton campaign is absolutely planning to push for seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates at the May 31 meeting of the Rules and Bylaws committee. One response:

Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said: “Wow. The nuclear option will yield nuclear winter for the Democratic Party.”

Unbelievable. Clinton apparently has no concern for what this action will do to her party and the country.