Sonia Silbert, Co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, wrote last week with updates on the mass arrests and detentions by police of activists during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities. Here are some more reports from her from later in the week. You can also listen to her interview with us during the RNC on The Marc Steiner Show - click here.
Here's a piece contributed to our site by the author Djelloul Marbrook. Check out his site to see more of his writing and to learn more about him.
The way to take government back from corrupters is at hand. Don't wait for the press to do it for you. It's a do-it-yourself job. It's the perfect job for retirees, because their years and diversity of experience are invaluable tools.
Sarah Palin speaks. Lets give it to her, she was phenomenal. Her presentation, her engagement, her fiery delivery wowed the Republican base, and a new conservative mega-star was born.
As the loudspeakers played the Sly Stone dance maker “I'm Everyday People,” there was a moment of irony for me. Because unlike the Democratic convention, I didn't see the rainbow of “everyday” people I know. I saw an overwhelming white audience, oh yes they did find some black Conservatives and Latino delegates to be within camera shot.
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This is The GoodDoctor reporting once more....and I have shifted my attention that of the Republicans this week. As we know, their convention got off to a slow start due to Hurricane Gustav. (It seems that God answered their prayers to rain out Obama's speech one week too late.) But, now it seems they are "ready to go on the attack!"
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All I can say is “wow.” And when John McCain ascended the stage after Governor Palin’s speech, he said “wow” too.
What an amazingly auspicious speech for an aspiring Vice President candidate to give. In the Geraldine Ferraro era, all of the rhetoric of a major female candidate had a defensive cast. This speech was a confident, aggressive speech by a female candidate for Vice President who knows what she thinks and knows from what values her assertions come.
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Believing, as Barack Obama, that “We are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people and One Nation,” has never been more challenging than it was last night. As I listened to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I became increasingly despairing of the power, the fear, the hate mongering and the delusional self-congratulatory platitudes that peppered her speech and gave comfort to a culturally and economically insecure public. Her words were cast out to embolden the xenophobia of a frightened country, words that were so irresponsible given the external and internal challenges we face. Clearly, the Republican Party has come out of the closet about their plan to exploit and deepen our traditional differences and create and shine light on ones lying beneath the surface.
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People like Hillary Clinton!
This is obvious based on crowd reaction during her speech last night, and the reaction of the punditry as well. I both enjoyed and appreciated the fact that it was a TACTICALLY sound speech. She illustrated a sincere disengagement from the politics of the McCain campaign; she was clear about her unwillingness to be used as a pawn by the McCain campaign to draw votes away from Senator Obama. Her acknowledgment of the hard work of her campaigners, her acknowledgment of Susan B. Anthony (and the Seneca Falls Convention), and her reference to Harriet Tubman, signaled a Senator who understood her contribution to American History. ...and at the same time, she expressed her unwavering support for Senator Barack Obama. This was the magic of Hillary Clinton's address!
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The Democratic National Convention is steamrolling the competition with women at the vanguard.
I believe Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have provided a sturdy foundation for men to take it to the next level. On Monday night, Michelle discussed her roots and upbringing reminding and informing everyone that she’s American as apple pie. Women were allowed to see the construction of her pie’s latticework—motherhood, sisterhood, and marriage. These attributes that make her who she is reminded women that you can be all things and be proud to be all things. The affirmation of womanhood was a theme that ran through Michelle’s speech as well as Hillary’s.
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What is Unity? It seems that the theme within the convention is “from many one.” And yet do some in both the leadership and the rank and file of the Democratic Party find an uneasiness seeking to place us behind a candidate that embraces the diversity of opinion and strategies that is characteristic of a progressive and dynamic constituency? Do we deep down in our hearts believe the pundits and naysayers that see this cacophony of voices as a failure to stay on message and that we are fool hearty to have the audacity to speak of unity at the foot of the Tower of Babel?
Denver must come to symbolize the big tent and yes, we must learn to fight together toward many goals. Does the Democratic Party contradict itself to claim America to be “One Nation.” I think the answer is “Yes” and it should be as Walt Whitman put, “Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
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I listened to Michelle Obama’s speech on the radio last night. Yes, I had to take it old school because I had to make an airport run. There’s nothing like listening to a speech on the radio, especially a speech of this magnitude. There I was driving down the highway and envisaging Michelle’s outfit, her hair & make-up, her gestures, the venue, the colors, the audience’s reactions. I depended solely on the cadence of her voice and my imagination to tell the story that was unfolding, the history that was being made.
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It's time to get this party started! ...and by the way, let's have fun...it's a joyous occasion, regardless of what the Republicans and the critics have to say.
The Number #1 reason to celebrate with absolute fervor is that this convention will be of historical magnitude! Senator Barack Obama, who has already made history in a number of ways, will address yet another arena-sized audience who is eager to hear more about a "different type of politics." No matter how the Republicans try to spin his ability to draw large crowds as a weakness...please "party-goers" rest asssured that if John McCain was able to do so, he would! ...and besides what do the large crowds symbolize? An intelligent person would go beyond Obama's oratory...and find that Americans are actually hungry for sincerity and relief from the "trickle-down" economic policies of the wealthy.
by Lea Gilmore
In less than 24 hours, I will be on my way to cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver for the Center for Emerging Media (CEM) and public radio WEAA 88.9 FM. Wait, I need to say that once more: I am on my way to cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver for the Center for Emerging Media and WEAA! Forgive me, I had to say it twice so the enormity of it all could sink in.
Just for a bit of trivia here, did you know that the first ever Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore in 1832 where President Andrew Jackson was nominated? http://www.cnn.com/
Go and throw that fact out the next time you are sitting in Jimmy's having breakfast with the morning java crowd and watch them be impressed at your political acumen, or something like that.
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As part of our coverage for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, we're excited to bring you a series of posts from guest bloggers. We're thrilled to begin with Maryland Blogger Diana Veiga, who blogs over at 5andapossible.blogspot.com, which is a great group blog written by five young women (we'll be meeting another of their contributors later during the convention). Enjoy!
If you believe what the polls say, I am probably one of the few black people who is not ardently supporting presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. When I mention my hesitation about Obama to an avid supporter (and they are all around us), I am often met with dropped jaws and disappointed looks. Apparently this is the black race’s one and only chance, so I better get on the bandwagon. “But what’s he going to do for us,” I ask them. “Girl, he’s not running for President of Black America, he can’t just cater to us,” they say. Perhaps. And then like any good believer would do, they “school” me on Obama’s credentials and end with, “and he’s going to change the nation.” We won’t go into the fact that when I ask how, I have heard some of the craziest responses, including, “We’re finally going to have a black angel on the National Christmas tree.” OK, that’s change I can believe in.
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CEM is excited to be bringing you dispatches from Indiana from our intern Christina Arrison, who is working with the Obama campaign. This is the third in the series.
This is going to be a short one because I'm about to hop into bed to snatch a few hours rest before going back in tomorrow to canvass. The crazy Obama staffers are still at the office getting packets together for tomorrow, but they turned down offers of help so I got to come home to bed. They are going out at 3am to hang flyers on supporters' houses so they'll be there first thing in the morning when everyone leaves for work. I'll be going in around 6 to do some visibility, which can be pretty fun – standing at busy intersections with campaign signs and waving them around. I'm not sure how many votes it actually gets, but I guess any publicity is good, and maybe it will remind people to get to the polls.
Today was surprisingly uneventful for a day just before an election. I knocked on doors in a neighborhood where about a quarter of the houses on my list were empty. I wonder where all of those people went to. I'm sure that many of them moved for benign reasons, but I couldn't help but think about the foreclosure crisis all day. That got me thinking about the many subtle, indirect ways that people can be disenfranchised. Home foreclosure of course wouldn't prohibit someone from voting, but it does mean that the voter probably won't receive any information from the campaigns, and switching your address for voter registration is probably the last thing on your mind if you're dealing with the trauma of losing a home. In Indiana if you moved more than 29 days before the election and didn't officially change the registration record you can't vote at your old precinct. There's also the fact that this state requires photo identification and proof of residence to vote, which low income, young, and elderly voters are much less likely to have. The recent Supreme Court decision that upholds the legality of such requirements means that even more states will probably establish similar laws. On a smaller scale, the fact that many lower income voters live in apartment complexes means that it's harder for canvassers to go talk to them, and personal contact at a door is one of the most effective ways of getting people out to vote. Last but not least, of course, there's the fact that the polls are only open until 6pm at night. And unlike many states, Indiana doesn't have a law mandating that employees must receive enough time off to vote, if their work schedule would otherwise prohibit them from going to the polls.
Rather than close on that note, though, I should mention that tonight I was lucky enough to go to a huge rally downtown. We were all packed onto the American Legion mall in downtown Indianapolis. A local radio station put the attendance at more than 20,000, and the energy of the crowd was palpable. Stevie Wonder made a guest appearance, opening the rally with three songs which he played to the end despite a sudden downpour during the third number. The crowd held despite the several bursts of rain, and Senator Obama delivered a fiery version of his stump speech. It was a positive way to end the day and hopefully a good omen for tomorrow. The bulk of the work has been done now – tomorrow it's only what is called "knock and drag," where you knock on doors until you find someone who says they're planning on voting and you bring them yourself to the polling location. And so now to get some practice in, I'm going to knock off writing and drag myself to bed.
CEM is thrilled to bring you these blog posts from our intern Christina Arrison, who is currently in Indiana working with the Obama campaign. Enjoy!
Obama won the contest in Guam yesterday by seven votes, which was really the only thing keeping me going at 1:30 am last night after two hours of putting tiny stickers that reminded voters to bring their photo IDs to the polls onto a seemingly endless stack of doorhangers. The campaign staff and I kept reminding each other about those seven voters, thinking about how the balance of the election could hang on just one sticker, one person remembering her ID who wouldn't have otherwise, and how maybe that one vote will push us over the edge. Working in the field operation of a campaign requires that mentality, the firm belief that every vote matters. Some people think a campaign comes down to a good debate performance or a savvy piece of election mail; I think it comes down to a 1" by 2" white sticker.
Today I got a chance to put some of those stickers into action by going out and knocking doors. A lot of my work on the primaries so far has been the behind-the-scenes organization of the canvasses, so I really relish any opportunity to get out and talk to voters. Canvassing is one of the most exhausting things that I've ever done. It's physically tiring to be out in the hot sun walking all day, but more than that it can be emotionally draining to talk to people about a candidate I'm so passionate about and be greeted with apathy or anger. It's obviously not a personal attack on me, but after the all-night sticker marathon I'm not thinking logically today. Thankfully those people are few and far between, but I do still have the urge to go out right now and wake up the 24 year old I talked to today who said that he never votes because "change will still happen whether I vote or not." I tried to convince him otherwise but to no avail. I'm comforted, though, by the thought of two other young men I talked to today, both of whom said that they've never thought that voting mattered but that this time they feel inspired to cast a ballot.
It is a very intimate experience to go to the homes of so many strangers. Canvassing has taken me into neighborhoods of all kinds that I usually wouldn't have a reason to visit. It's given me lots of food for thought. Why is there, for example, an inverse relationship between the number of items on a house that say "Welcome" and how welcoming the owner is? Why are the front doors in the so-called "bad" neighborhoods always unlocked and wide open, while in the "safe" areas there is always at least one deadbolt fastened?
Knocking on doors also shines a bright spotlight onto the issue of race in this country. Race has obviously played a large role in the campaign in terms of the possibility that we could soon elect our first black president, but it also concretely affects canvassers who cross over racial boundaries to go door-to-door in neighborhoods that are in many cases still very segregated. Last week two of our canvassers, both young black men, were followed around by police in the mostly white neighborhood where they were working. When the pair was done knocking, the police car tailed them the whole way across the city back to our headquarters. Two middle-aged women from one of our unions were in a similar area today when they knocked on the apartment door of an off-duty police officer who told them they were illegally trespassing in the complex (which was not true) and that if he got one complaint from a neighbor he would arrest them right then and there. As a white woman I experience a different side of things – my blood still boils when I think of the woman in Ohio who told me she wasn't going to support Obama because she didn't think that America was ready for a black president. She leaned in confidingly and added, "But I suppose he's not all black. His mother was white."
Still, all of the negative and difficult experiences are far outweighed by positive stories that make me really believe that change is possible. Our team has had thousands and thousands of conversations with voters here in Indianapolis, and stories like the ones above are the exception, not the rule. All of the canvassers I've talked to see the chance to go into unfamiliar neighborhoods and talk to people they would otherwise probably not interact with much as an amazing opportunity to build unity, not as an uncomfortable or futile task. Our volunteers have boundless energy – the two women who were threatened by the police officer today came back to headquarters, got another packet, and went back out to knock more doors. And every time the press does another story about the "insurmountable" racial divide in the electorate, I just remember standing in Ohio with an African American coworker of mine as the union volunteers were getting ready to canvass. Most of the canvassers were middle-aged, white and male, many of them current or former meatpackers - definitely not your typical Obama demographic. She turned to me, laughed, and said, "Just look at all these white guys working their butts off to elect a black guy president. Who would have thought?"
Tomorrow's the biggest day of the campaign, so I'd better go get some sleep. In Indiana the polls are open for an extremely restrictive amount of time – 6am to 6pm. That means that most of the voter turnout canvassing has to be done tomorrow because on Tuesday there won't be enough time to catch people after work before the polls close. More on that to follow tomorrow.
- Christina Arrison
Hey folks - one of our interns, Christina Arrison, is in Indiana for the primary. She's going to be sending us first-hand observations and thoughts from there for the next few days. By way of an introduction, here's her first dispatch.
The best part about being on the ground for three important primary contests has been the chance to talk to and work with people who are experiencing this election on an individual and personal level – people who, many for the first time, feel a meaningful connection to Washington and the process that puts politicians there. It's a nice counterbalance to the Big Media view of the campaign – all scandal and spin and personal attacks and very little examination of what the election means to real people. It's been four decades since the last competitive Democratic primary in Indiana. From what I've seen, many Hoosiers are a bit bemused by all of the attention – voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania are used to the swarms of canvassers and scads of robo-calls and TV ads from past general elections, but in Indiana, a solidly red state, many people are experiencing the invasion for the first time. Overall, though, I think people appreciate the attention and genuinely believe that their voice matters. Every day when our canvassers get back from the field they give reports of talking to voters who say that this is their first time voting, and that for once they think an election offers them a chance to concretely improve their lives – by getting better healthcare or livable wages, by ending the war, and for countless other reasons. We hear heartbreaking stories like the Katrina survivor with AIDS who can't afford his pills, and asked our union volunteer to have the Obama campaign contact him to get him cheaper medication. But even if the personal connection to the campaign just involves a voter yelling at a canvasser to get off her property, or slamming down the phone on another prerecorded call, at least they are offered the chance to participate.
That being said, I am a little worried about the length and tone of the race. Even in just the three primaries I've worked on there's been a shift in voters' attitudes. When I knocked doors in Ohio, most of the Clinton supporters I talked to were firm in their choice, but polite. On the plane back to DC after the Ohio election, I was seated next to the president of the New York chapter of NOW, and we were able to chat relatively amicably about the election, she in her Clinton button, me in my Obama t-shirt. Canvassing in Pennsylvania, five weeks later, the tone had shifted. Lots more people yelled at me, balled up their flyers and threw them back, or slammed the door in my face. I remember walking up the driveway of one house just in time to hear the woman say to her neighbor "If I get ONE more thing from Obama I'm just going to-" I didn't quite catch what she was going to do, as I was doing my best to blend in with the trees as I backed away. I think a lot of people (including some campaign staffers I know who literally have not had a day off in 15 months) are ready for this to end.