Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Articles on the African American experience on the Homefront in WWII started last week. Have had almost no feedback from readers and I'm not sure how to read that ... did I miss the mark? Was it simply of no consequense in a world sated with dramatic headlines and war news? Did it get overlooked due to the impending national election? Is it too soon to judge how it was received by the public? Or, will interest build as the rest of the 4-part series unfolds?

Spent the last few days studying the ballot in preparation for installing my ballot window at our Berkeley store. For years I've filled my front windows with newsprint upon which I write in indelible markers, "This is how I will vote this time." What follows is a replica of the state, county, and city candidates, measures, and inititatives boldly scrawled -- with my signature at the bottom.

My theory is that I have no wish to tell others how to use the franchise, but if the California ballot is as confusing to the rest of the community as it is to me, we can use all the help we can get! I figure that I probably give more attention to the measures and initiatives than most, and when I'm in doubt -- I say so. There is always at least one initiative that I leave with a question mark so that folks will know that I'm not all that sure about everything, but that's no reason not to vote, right? Also (by design) I show at least one change of mind by having a "yes" crossed out and replaced by a "no." I'm hoping that shows deliberation. Guess we might call that a "Betty spin."

Over many years the community around our little store has become used to my window ballots, and it is not uncommon to see people lining up in front at the curb -- marking their sample ballots accordingly.

It's all complete (phew!) and ready to post. I'll drive in to Berkeley with my rolled up giant ballot and tape and do the honors. There ought to be some ceremony, but I'm not sure how to initiate that.

The goal has never been to presume to be all-knowing, and to gain a following (though that has happened from time to time), but to encourage the vote. It matters less whether I've influenced the outcomes than that I've increased the numbers of those going to the polls each year in that community. That's the point. That feels good.

The approaching election promises to be a cliff hanger, though for the life of me I can't imagine why that should be. The present administration is so blatantly bad that I'm mystified at the numbers of citizens who continue to support it. What does that say about us as a people? And in light of a world that has judged us as increasingly cruel and oblivious to the pain of others (i.e., Abu Graib).

Last night Al Gore gave the speech of his life (CSPAN), at a MoveOn.Org event on the east coast. I felt the fear building as I listened to the litany of abuses and errors in judgement of this sitting president that he spelled out to that audience and the country. Might we be on the threshold of civil unrest unlike anything we've seen before -- should the election be as tumultuous as signs indicate?

I watched a video of Arandahti Roi for a while this morning and again marveled at the wisdom of this feminist leader, and wondered if the disconnect between East and West in these awful times is exemplified by the intellectual and moral gulf that lies between this inarticulate president and the incisive wit and wisdom of this beautiful woman?

The posting of my Betty Ballot pales beside the desperate need for positive leadership that our times demand.

But it's all I have this morning ... .

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