Friday, April 25, 2008

Because | Democracy in Action (Obama profiles)

Why yes, I DO count. And to that, I've even gone so far as to say so and demonstrate why. Yes, I'm still hung up on being in Washington, the "big" state of popular voters who don't count because we go through that "undemocratic process" of caucuses and don't really count turnout much from the primary vote. All tongue in cheek (smile).

If you don't know by now, I'm a State Delegate (11th LD, 7th CD) and of course I'd love to go to Denver. But beyond that, I really REALLY want to get more profiles on the calendar for the Because Democracy in Action (yes, yes I DID spell it Democrazy and have to go edit it again) shots. I have some openings in the next two weeks, then a spat of no openings for about a week and I opened up another two weeks of shots. So, let's get you profiled!

You can read more about the project here at my Obama Delegates page and you can email me at I do travel ALL OVER for various causes so no you DON'T have to be local (as in Seattle or even Washington state) to participate though I am in a heavy push to get more WA supporters involved. I prefer that you are an Obama supporter, but I've had some really AMAZING profiles pop up from people who were undecided and others who were for another candidate and then switched so, we'll work on you (smile). And yes, I was somewhat joking in that there will be no heavy pressure, but I will indeed be asking Obama specific questions so your perspective will be narrowed for the purposes of the survey. I've had some really clever, fantastic responses from folks who took that and ran with it.

Ready to jump in? Shoot me an email. In the subject line put "Obama Profile" and in the body, tell me your first and last name, gender (although if you put Mr. or Ms. I'll figure out how you identify and that is fine by me), location (city, state, country) and one reason why you support Barack Obama (or, a reason why you're unsure or don't support him). I'll send you the info, you decide to what extent you want to participate. Cool? Cool. Feel free to link me up either from this blog post or (preferably) my Obama Delegate page.

Can't wait to meet you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What do you mean I don't COUNT?!

So PA has got us all up in arms to get out and DO SOMETHING to move this little groundhog along.  I mean really already.  Stop it.  No, not "stop the voting" and "disenfranchise" people.  But stop the stupid spin.  How stupid do I have to be to really believe half of what is out there?

By the very definition, spin certainly is supposed to tell your story in the best light.  I get it.

But don't take the word "story" to be the operative condition there.

Take for instance the AP story about who has more of the popular vote.  In particular, I like this passage:

"Including Michigan and Florida, Clinton has 15.1 million to Obama's 15 million — a lead of about one-half of a percentage point for Clinton. Without Michigan and Florida, Obama has 14.4 million to Clinton's 13.9 million — a lead of about 1.7 percent for Obama. Neither total includes the primary vote total from Washington state, since it doesn't count toward the nomination and the party awards delegates based on its caucus."

Uhm.  Whoa now.  Understand, I'm a Texan educated in NY about to marry a Californian.  So I've always been about "states that matter" (and for the record, I lived in the Liberal Step-child tip of Texas known as El Paso).  And yes (gulp) way back in the day when I was graduating from College in the election of 2000, I did that.  You know what I'm talking about.

But fast forward.  I understand.  Washington is beyond jacked up in that we have both a caucus and a primary and really, only the caucus really REALLY counts although I want to say they give like some meaningless pithy percentage (think, 1/8th of 1 percentage point or some other democrazy nonsense) to the primary results.  Granted, when a particular candidate knocked the HECKFIRE ball out the park on the other candidate, there was rampant rumorgate fantasizing going on about flooding the primaries to produce a "contradictory result" that would send a different message.  So I sent in my friggin' mail-in only please cause you live in King Co. ballot and called it a day.

Not only do I think that Washington is a "big state" (gotta love the size and breadth of everything in the West), but hey darn it already.  I not only voted and PAID TO DO SO (stamps are NOT cheap anymore...let me tell ya...forever stamps or otherwise).  But I also caucused.

Now on that "undemocratic caucus" front.  I didn't want to call anyone out on this.  Mostly because I am but one girl and who knows if my experience was remotely similar to anyone else's experience but given what I've been watching on the CNN and the MSNBC and the Fox people's news channels about "negative" campaigning (I could do a whole new post on that), let me just say that I suspect my experience was not "unique".

As startled as I am to see shall I put it?  Well, the double standards that have abounded in this fascinating campaign is what I'm speaking of. But.  Come on.  To say that caucuses--where you have to make a pretty hard core commitment to:

1. understand the process of making of the most important decisions of your life

2. REALLY understand the process to the point of understanding just how long you REALLY have to stay so that if say you have to work and can't stay for 9 hours of people trying to figure out what that vote means and why we can't just automatically select the non-delegates as alternates and why we have to have a whole new ballot...etc. then at least you know that you can sign in, state your preference and then get on off to work if you don't want to be a delegate.  Yeah.  really.

3. know your candidate and be willing to talk about the positives of said candidate

are undemocratic is kinda sketch.  Mostly when your premise for their "non-democrazy" status (purposefully left it like that because face it...caucuses are crazy and a day) is that "people can be intimidated" and "working folks are excluded" and "only passionate people take part."  Well, I could take those one by one but really. 

Sure. I'll cede that working folks find it infinitely harder to be elected delegate to the next round of caucuses/conventions (although, fantastically in the party of fairness as George Will has taken to calling the Democratic Party on This Week with the Other George who's name we no longer speak in my house...I LOVE that dude--George Will, not the other George...there are set ups so that even those types of folks can move on if they really REALLY want to).

I will also cede that it tends to be my experience that a particular candidate's people--in my experience, it hasn't been the candidate you're expecting--are absolutely passionate, vocal proponents for their candidate of choice.

And I will definitely attest to the fact that people can be intimidated.  I'm a big, hood sister and the bless her heart, but Stephanie from Sylvan--you scared the bejesus out of me when I was all about the organizing and you were pontificating on what rule excluded what 17 year old born before the summer solstice in an odd month in the state of Oregon but made exceptions for those 16 year olds who happened to have a Hillar...I mean...well. Yeah.  You scared me.  You were older, you were wiser, you told me you were an old party hat and had been holding caucuses since before I was ever thought of (which is, just FYI, a really REALLY long time) and you intimidated me into believing that even though I'm one of those snooty over educated (Ivy league and a masters to boot), latte sipping (well, Chai Tea latte), over-paid (hardly, but I don't punch a clock anymore so aside from not really being a "worker" I'm also overpaid) Kool-Aid drinking cultified "followers" who thinks she has all the answers and can fix any situation (and read any manual) by merely chanting "yes we can" over and over again under my breath...well, still, I figured you probably knew best.  So yeah.  There is intimidation that goes on at caucuses but in my experience, I can say that it typically went more along the lines of "let me confuse you away from the process" rather than "you better vote for so and so or else". 

Those intimidated by the fact that they are in the "unpopular crowd" (ie, there are hundreds of folks for the other side, and only 10 folks in your camp and you don't feel comfortable enough in your own choice to stand proud for it, I can't help you there.

So all that said.  Big state, paid to vote, stayed to vote not once at my district caucus, not just twice as I had to do again at my legislative district caucus and not even just three times as I will do at my congressional district caucus as well.  But 4 friggin' times to make sure that in all the "negative campaigning" I have not learned something about a candidate that would sway my vote to the other.  Quite the contrary.  Though I came in not knowing why we had to keep voting up the chain for our candidate if we were delegates pretty set in who you were going to select; I've already seen a few defectors who couldn't stand that heat and came on back to our kitchen (smile).

But hey.  All that is to say that darn it. I MATTER.  I DO Count.  I DID Vote.  OVER. and over. and over again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Three Years Ago | Archive dig

So three years ago.  I wrote a column for the Olympian and it went a little something like this:

             If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? If a student does not tell her tale of racial harassment, does her lack of storytelling negate the reality of her story? If all you have to back up a claim is your faith in the validity of the claim, does the phenomenon you proclaim truly exist? 
            Many times in life, we are asked to believe in intrinsic situations that seem to lack logical evidentiary trails.  Sometimes, we are called to believe in circumstances that contradict the evidence at hand.  In both of these situations, we are entrusted with the voice of the storyteller and asked to believe in the unbelievable. Against all better judgment, why is it important that we take the time to believe? It is important that we believe because validation is central to any person’s ability to feel valued as a part of their community. 
            Heather Woodard’s March 28 article “When Races Collide” illustrates the perfect storm David Fennel—father of a child victim of racial harassment—hints at in suggesting that racial incidents are under-reported in our school districts.  On the one hand, Ms. Woodard’s reporting indicated that there are members of our educational community who believe the lack of a more significant outcry indicates the absence of a bigger problem.  However, there are also members of our community—students at Olympia High School —who feel that the environment is not conducive to speaking out because they do not feel comfortable telling their stories to those available to listen. 
             In one instance, we might wonder if silence indicates progress so great as to signify a newfound equality for previously marginalized groups.  If we agree, for a moment, that this is not always the case, the logical follow up inquiry might ask whether the lack of an outcry always indicates a more significant problem?  In my opinion, and quite likely my opinion only, the lack of an outcry always signifies a larger problem because the lack of an outcry, at the very least, indicates the presence of lock-step agreement with the status quo.
            Any time you have members of a community that are uneasy about discussing their disconnect from the community, there is a problem.  In the context of progress towards a more unified society, the absence of an outcry—the absence of dissent—suggests a homogenous gathering where everyone agrees with each other but innovation is at a standstill because difference—different ideas, different approaches to problems, different experiences—are non-existent.  In both instances, the airwaves are silent, but progress is absent.
           Frustrating our community into silence will always result in the appearance of progress that masks the deeper issues we have yet to address in our efforts to create a unified community. Giving voice to those in our community whose stories have been muted is a step we can all take towards validating all members of our community.

Frustrating our community into silence.  Back then, there were some serious issues in the schools and students were being ignored--being told it was a figment of their imagination and that they were the abnormal ones because really, we'd come so far "from there" that really, it couldn't be possible that there were issues.  Today, as I watch the election unfold, as I watched Wyatt--a high school kid get elected as a State Delegate at our LD caucuses and as I watched a not too much older young lady become chair of our caucus over the genteel old party hat because she knew how to work a bullhorn, I get chills.  This year is different.  It is absolutely different.  But then again, three years ago, maybe this was one of the sparks that ignited the bonfire of passion that burns so deeply within us "young folk" this year.