Archive for November, 2008

What’s Next?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

If you’re like me, you’ve found yourself moved all week long, sometimes without much warning.

Like this morning, reading the story of reporter Michael Sokolove’s Election Day return to Levittown, Pa.:

I grew up in Levittown, and in the spring had returned there before the Democratic primary to write about how Mr. Obama’s message of hope and change was connecting with its blue-collar population. It wasn’t. My article in The New York Times Magazine reported that his words were coming across as lofty and abstract to people more attuned to concrete concerns like the hourly wage and the monthly car payment. The article was published on the morning before Mr. Obama made his one big gaffe of the campaign, telling attendees at a San Francisco fund-raiser that some blue-collar voters have been so beaten down that “it’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion… .” …

I traveled again to Levittown on Election Day to see how people would vote and how they would respond to what looked like an imminent Obama victory. The contrast from the spring — and, in fact, this new vision of Levittown compared with what I had known in my childhood — was almost breathtaking.

“Obama,” said the ironworker, when I asked how he’d be voting.

“Obama,” said the plumber.

“Obama,” said the chef.

And on and on. Military moms. Vietnam veterans. Abortion opponents. College students and retirees. Bank tellers, pipe fitters, officer workers, machinists, meat cutters, boilermakers and carpenters.

I’ve had moments this week when I’ve been sort of daydreaming, and then I’ll think of something I hadn’t thought of yet: Ruth Bader Ginsberg can retire; poor women in overseas health clinics will have access to contraception; the Iraq war will soon be over.

I thought: My kids will see a Democratic administration in Washington, DC, for the first time.

I have also been thinking a lot about the future of neuroticdemocrat.com.

Which brings me again to Noah, the Torah portion that we read two weeks ago. Near the end of the parsha, we read:

Tera took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans for the land of Canaan; but when they had come as far as Haran, they settled there.

What on Earth, you ask, does Ur of the Chaldeans have to do with this neurotic blogger?

Answer: The Midrash focuses on the phrase “they settled there,” writing: “So often in life, we set out with the best of intentions, only to give up half-way to our goal.” 

Getting Obama elected was never the goal. It was in the broadest sense a strategy, to achieve other goals: ending the Iraq war; turning our economy around; investing in alternative energy as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Addressing global warming. Reclaiming our government as an honest force for good in the lives of everyday people, here and around the world.

With that in mind — and with the encouragement of so many of you — I plan to keep blogging for awhile.

(Though probably not much this week. My mom’s going in for surgery — I’ll be spending much of the week in the hospital with her and dad.)

So for now, I’ll leave it with Sokolove:

The people I met in Levittown were not on Mr. Obama’s e-mail list or among his donors, but they may be more likely than his younger supporters and more affluent ones to give him what he most desperately needs: time and patience. Like characters from the songs of one of Mr. Obama’s celebrity endorsers, Bruce Springsteen, many Levittowners have been weathered by life. They haven’t benefited from a lot of quick fixes. Others of his supporters say they’ll be patient, but I sensed these people really mean it. They were harder to sell, but they could end up being pretty loyal.

“How long did it take Bush to get us into this mess?” Mr. Carr, the Vietnam veteran, asked. “It’s a lot easier to screw things up than to make them better.”

We won an election. We earned our country back. Our hopes have never been higher.

Which is to say: Mission definitely not accomplished.

Election Day Story

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Sometime around 2 p.m. on Election Day, one of the head honchos at Obama headquarters announced that our turnout was way down across Ohio.

People, he said. As of right now, we are losing Ohio. We are losing this election.

Amalie, a friend of mine who was in the office at the time, told me that within minutes, the staff was literally weeping. And these were not folks prone to melodrama. They’re some of the toughest, nose-to-the-grindstone, focus-on-the-task-at-hand-and-ignore-the-doubters people I’d ever met.

I was at a staging area a few blocks away when I heard the news, along with maybe a half dozen others, and I swear, by the body language, you would have thought the election had just been called for John McCain.

It wasn’t hard for me to believe turnout was down. My morning job had been to monitor the polling locations in Ward 8 — there are 10 of them — to make sure there were no problems. The longest line I’d seen was maybe twenty minutes. At the poll on Shatto — where two of our targeted precincts voted — people were getting in and out in 15 minutes.

I quick texted our voluteer coordinator to ask her whether it was really that bad. She confirmed the reports (I blogged about it later: “My Obama Minute: Ohio, Midday Report“), but she texted back: “Keep fighting.”

What followed was a kind of determination that you rarely see. At the staging area, I overheard a phone conversation, a volunteer calling her husband: We are losing this election. Get off work and get out canvassing, now. Amalie called her husband and asked him to start knocking on neighbor’s doors. Her message: Drag them to the polls if necessary. My wife, Marcella, and mother-in-law, Maggie, redoubled their efforts, determined to knock on as many doors as possible. It was as if this small band of canvassers in Akron had early warning that the Obama campaign might be going down to defeat, and had put the entire thing on their shoulders. What are you still standing there for?

I phoned my uncle Jon and aunt Barbara. Jon suggested the announcement might just have been a tactic, to motivate the staff. Or, maybe, so many of our voters had come out early, so the predictions were off.

That didn’t make sense to me, though. All across the state, she’d said, the lines in the suburbs were long, the lines and the cities were non-existent. It wasn’t just that our numbers were low — theirs were high.

I went back to one of the neighborhoods I’d canvassed the prior weekend, this time, nearly running from door-to-door, breathing hard, trying to find someone — anyone — who was home, who hadn’t yet voted. Mostly, I came up empty. A few told me they’d already voted Obama. A few wasn’t enough.

What’s the response? I thought. If we lose — what’s next?

Sometime around 4, Marcella and Maggie peeled off, to go drive someone to the polls. (Read Marcella’s account of what happened here.) I went to check a few more polling locations. Each one, more quiet than the next. Our targeted precinct: dead. Where were our damn voters?

It was getting dark. I got a Starbucks (free — on Election Day), then met up with Marcella and Maggie in a neighborhood off White Pond, a few quiet blocks of tree-lined streets without sidewalks, mostly middle-class homes, bordered by train tracks.

I knocked on one door that was cracked open. The kitchen light was on. An Obama hang tag sat on the chopping block. No one came.

I found the next address. Empty house, no one home. Then another. And another. At one home, an elderly woman came to the window, shielded her hands, saw me, and said: “I already voted!” At another, the driveway was packed with cars, the TV was on, every light in the house glowed, and still, no one came.

I met up with Marcella and Maggie on a road that paralleled the tracks — they weren’t having any more luck — and we divvied up the remaining walk sheets. I heard the whistle of a train just then, and, a moment later, a giant locomotive appeared from behind a stand of thin trees, its light boring down on the tracks.

I stopped to watch it.

I stopped, because this train was huge and solid and real, and there were 85 minutes until the polls closed, and I wanted to be alive in a world where there was still a possibility Barack Obama might be president. Standing there — not in a car, behind a wheel, but on the sidewalk, maybe twenty feet away, as the engine slid past — it held me in the moment.

I turned and walked up the block, past a road barrier. It was too hard now to see the street numbers on the homes. I tried a house, anyway. Peered into a living room lit by TV flicker.

No one home. Or, no one coming to the door. No voters left.

It was just a quiet Akron neighborhood, 6:15 p.m. on the night of November 4, 2008. There was still a chance, unrealistic, maybe — and fading fast, like the day — but a chance, that Obama could be elected president.

I was right where I wanted to be.

‘Mom’s Vote Wouldn’t Have Been Counted’

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

My wife, Marcella, sent out this email about her Election Day experience:

my mom and i were in the middle of going door-to-door at the homes of people the obama campaign had identified as likely supporters, reminding them that it was election day, that the polls closed sharply at 7:30, and, if needed, where their polling location was, when her cell phone rang. the akron campaign HQ was calling to ask us to drive a woman to vote. we handed off our walk sheets to josh and drove to a primarily african-american neighborhood to pick her up.

barbara was a lovely woman, in her 70s i’d guess, and seemingly very happy to be sharing this most amazing day with others who were just as excited. my mom and i waited for barbara outside while she went through the long ballot, hanging out with other volunteers from as near as a couple blocks away to as far away as california.

a bunch of cars with voters drove up and then a man, with a large sealed envelope in his hands, walked into the parking lot. i asked him if he was going to vote and he told me he’d already voted that morning and was simply dropping off his 97-year-old mother’s absentee ballot because it was too hard for her to stand in line. i told him that he had to drop it off at the downtown board of elections — that her vote wouldn’t be counted at the local polling station. clearly that wasn’t good news. so i offered him a ride and he agreed immediately.

after we dropped barbara back at home, we learned from michael that he’d lost his maintenance job at a cleveland-area rubber company the week before. i told him i worked at GOJO and … he said, ‘i know GOJO. my niece works downtown for GOJO.’ he mentioned her name and i knew her instantly. then he went on to say that he grew up on the street where GOJO had its first facility back in the 1950s through 1970s. he said he knew the guy who started the company, used to hand out footballs to the neighborhood kids and they’d play in front of the building. he said, ‘he’s a jewish guy, right? and ‘the last time i saw him he had a ponytail.’ all true. then i told him that we lost jerry lippman a few years ago and michael said he’d read that in the paper with a certain respect in his voice.

on the way back from the board of elections, michael told my mom and me that if we hadn’t offered him a ride, he wouldn’t have been able to make the trip and his mom’s vote wouldn’t have been counted to elect barack obama.

It’s stories like this that make all the effort worth it.

Would love to hear your story — about Election Day — or anything that’s happened, since.

The Final Jewish Vote: Obama, in a Landslide

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The numbers are in.

According to the exit polls, 78 percent of Jews voted for Barack Obama. Only 21 percent pulled the lever for McCain.

Given the negative campaign unleashed against Obama in the Jewish community — spearheaded by the Republican Jewish Coalition’s “guilt by association” smears — those numbers are astounding, and they give me great pride.

Consider how far the community has come. The July 1 Gallup poll had Jewish support for Obama at 61 percent; 34 percent backed McCain. On September 8, AJC had Obama at 57 percent, McCain at 30 percent.

These numbers were never terrible, except when you consider that in presidential elections between 1992 and 2004, the Democratic nominee for president averaged 79 percent support in the Jewish community.

The JTA, in a lead election story, trumpets “Jews Looked Past Worries to Embrace Obama,” writing:

For some Jewish voters, the strangeness of Barack Obama was like a recurring dream: unsettling and then settling in, and then, suddenly, revelatory.

And it happened despite the concerted $2 million effort to undermine Obama. As the JTA notes:

The Republican Jewish Coalition ran ads coupling critiques on Obama’s dovish policies with guilt-by-association jabs at his former pastor who embraced Third World liberation theology, at associates at the University of Chicago and during his early political career who had radical pasts, at advisers who had once delivered sharp critiques of Israel and the pro-Israel community. The negative campaign glossed over Obama’s deep ties in the Chicago Jewish community and how he has picked a pre-eminently pro-Israel foreign policy team.

On a National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) conference call yesterday analyzing election results, pollster Mark Mellman said that Obama’s Jewish support was “greater than or equal to” past Democratic nominees, adding: “The long-promised move of Jews out of the Democratic party has yet to materialize.”

Ira Forman, executive director of the NJDC, said Jewish voters — like voters generally — turned to Obama partly as a response to the economic meltdown. Further, he said, McCain’s pick of Palin tarnished his moderate image with Jewish voters, driving some would-be supporters away. Finally, he said, the Obama campaign’s outreach to Jewish voters — along with the efforts of groups like NJDC, the Jewish Council for Educational Research (which organized The Great Schlep), and JewsForObama.com — was “much more sophisticated and extensive than anything I’ve seen in years.”

Specific numbers for the states are not yet available, but the NJDC — noting that state trends tend to mirror the national numbers — released estimates of Jewish margins for Obama in several key states. Crunching those numbers a bit further shows just how critical Jews were to Obama’s success:

  • Obama won Ohio by 204,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama accounted for about 53,000 of that total, or about 26 percent of his winning margin.
  • Obama won Pennsylvania by 600,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama was 104,000, or about 17 percent.
  • Obama won Virginia by 155,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama was 36,000, or about 23 percent.
  • Obama won Nevada by 120,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama was 26,000, or about 22 percent.
  • Obama won New York by 1,784,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama was 590,000, or about 33 percent.
  • Obama won Florida by 195,000 votes; the Jewish margin for Obama was 238,000 — providing more than the difference in that state.

These numbers are important. President Obama will know that — despite months of smears castigating him as a Muslim terrorist-sympathizer who would be bad for Israel — the Jewish community stood with him, even above and beyond some other demographic groups, when it mattered most.

How fitting, then, that for his very first appointment — just hours after his election — Obama has tapped Rahm Emanuel to be White House chief of staff.

As Jeffrey Goldberg writes today on Jewcy.com:

Rahm did not, despite the rumors, serve in the Israeli Army, but he is deeply and emotionally committed to Israel and its safety.

Emanuel’s father, born in Jerusalem, was a member of the Irgun, the underground resistance movement in British Mandated-Palestine, and spoke Hebrew to his son growing up. Emanuel, whose first name means “high” or “lofty” in Hebrew, attended the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Jewish Day School in Chicago; his kids attend the same day school, where his wife, a Jewish convert, volunteers. He and his family are members of Anshe Shalom, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago.

“I am proud of my heritage and treasure the values it has taught me,” Emanuel told the JTA, when he was first elected to Congress in 2002.

Now — thanks in no small part to the passion, sweat, and muscle of the Jewish community — those values will be part of the everyday fabric of the Obama White House.

Today, I Think of Paul Robeson

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Exactly 69 years ago, to the day, CBS radio broadcast a recording of a brand new song, “Ballad For Americans.”

In seventy-six the sky was red
thunder rumbling overhead
Bad King George couldn’t sleep in his bed
And on that stormy morn, Ol’ Uncle Sam was born …

“It created an instant sensation,” writes historian Martin Bauml Duberman. “The six hundred people in the studio audience stamped, shouted, and bravoed for two minutes while the show was still on the air, and for fifteen minutes after. The switchboards were jammed for two hours with phone calls, and within the next few days hundreds of letters arrived.”

Ol’ Sam put on a three cornered hat
And in a Richmond church he sat
And Patrick Henry told him that while America drew breath
It was “Liberty or death.”

It was just a month after Hitler invaded Poland, the onset of World War II. The man singing was Paul Robeson, by then an internationally acclaimed black actor and singer, who had been an All-American football player at Rutgers University. And the song, in telling the story of the birth of our country, struck a patriotic chord that resonated with many Americans. When Robeson rears back and bellows, “Nobody who was anybody believed it,” he’s talking about nothing less than the American project, itself:

Ev’rybody who was anybody they doubted it.
Nobody had faith.
Nobody but Washington, Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin,
Chaim Solomon, Crispus Attucks, Lafayette. Nobodies …

After the second broadcast — again, a huge hit — Robeson and his wife went to lunch with the writer Marie Seton, served in her upstairs hotel room at the Elysee. “Only years later did [Seton] tell the Robesons why,” Duberman writes in his biography of Robeson. “the hotel had informed her in advance that they would not serve Robeson in the public dining room. Nationally acclaimed one day, on the next he could eat in a hotel only if kept out of sight of its other guests.” Duberman notes that Robeson was “all at once a second-class citizen and CBS’s choice as the spokesman for the All-American Ballad.”

A little ragged group believed it.
And some gentlemen and ladies believed it.
And some wise men and some fools, and I believed it too.
And you know who I am.

At which point, the chorus comes in, dumbstruck as to who this might be, singing:

No. Who are you mister? Yeah, how come all this?

Well, Robeson sings I’ll tell you. It’s like this…

No, the chorus interrupts, let us tell you:

Mister Tom Jefferson, a mighty fine man.
He wrote it down in a mighty fine plan.
And the rest all signed it with a mighty fine hand
As they crossed their T’s and dotted their I’s
A bran’ new country did arise.

Robeson, already a strong civil rights activist in the mid-1930s, liked the song — composed by Earl Robinson — because while telling the story of America, as Duberman writes, “It [also] acknowledged the dark side of the American dream”:

Old Abe Lincoln was thin and long,
His heart was high and his faith was strong.
But he hated oppression, he hated wrong,
And he went down to his grave to free the slave.

A man in white skin can never be free
while his black brother is in slavery
“And we here highly resolve that these dead
shall not have died in vain.
And this government of the people, by the people and for the people
Shall not perish from the Earth.”
Abraham Lincoln said that on November 19, 1863 at Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania.

Last night, at Grant Park in Chicago, president-elect Barack Obama summoned the same speech for inspiration, saying of his campaign: “It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the Earth.”

And, sitting in my living room in Akron, Ohio, I started thinking about Ballad for Americans. Its deep and powerful message of inclusion; its focus on what he have in common, instead of what divides us.

Say, sings the chorus, will you please tell us who you are?
What’s your name, Buddy? Where you goin’? Who are you?

Robeson, his voice gathering strength, begins a back-and-forth with his questioners:

Well, I’m the everybody who’s nobody,
I’m the nobody who’s everybody.

What’s your racket? What do you do for a living?

Well, I’m an
Engineer, musician, street cleaner, carpenter, teacher

How about a farmer?

Also.

Office clerk?

Yes sir! …

Factory worker?

You said it. …

Truck driver?

Definitely!
Miner, seamstress, ditchdigger, all of them.
I am the “etceteras” and the “and so forths” that do the work.

Now hold on here, a man in the chorus says, what are you trying to give us?
Are you an American?

Am I an American? Robeson replies:

I’m just an Irish, Negro, Jewish, Italian,
French and English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Polish,
Scotch, Hungarian, Swedish, Finnish, Canadian, Greek and Turk and Czech and double-check American

And that ain’t all.
I was baptized Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, Lutheran,
Atheist, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist,
Mormon, Quaker, Christian Scientist and lots more.

You sure are, something!

It’s those lines, perhaps more than any others, that captured my imagination as a child, listening to the song in the back seat of our station wagon, on the way up to the Adirondack mountains for family vacations, pop–up camper in tow. Those lines said to me: We’re all in this together.

“It’s the answer spoken by young and old,” Obama said last night, “rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America.”

Sixty-nine years ago to the day, as Duberman writes, “Americans … thrilled to the rapturous patriotism” of the Ballad’s stirring crescendo:

Our country’s strong, our country’s young,
And our greatest songs are still unsung.
From her plains and mountains we have sprung,
To keep the faith with those who went before.

Many commentators have noted that Martin Luther King was one of those who went before Obama. Robeson was another. Though he was eventually hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee and accused of being a Communist; though he eventually had his passport revoked; though his image was ruthlessly distorted and tarnished by the press — Robeson never stopped crusading for peace, civil rights, and the rights of workers around the world.

“It’s been a long struggle that I’ve waged, sometimes not very well understood,” Robeson told supporters, after rioters halted a concert for civil rights in Peekskill, NY, in 1949. He spoke of how he was struggling not just on behalf of blacks, but for oppressed people everywhere. “I will be loyal to the America of the true traditions; to the America of the abolitionists, of Harriet Tubman, of Thaddeus Stevens, of those who fought for my people’s freedom, not of those who tried to enslave them. And I will have no loyalty to the Forrestals, to the Harrimans, to the Wall-Streeters…”

Said Obama last night: “Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.”

My grandfather was at Peekskill. He died earlier this year, after a long lifetime of fighting for these same causes. And one of my only regrets last night was that Gramps was not here to see it.

He would have positively beamed.

But I digress. It was after the successful CBS radio broadcasts that Robeson launched a cross-country concert tour. One of those stops was Grant Park, in Chicago, where 160,000 turned out to see him. It was, Duberman writes, quoting a music critic, a “‘deeply satisfying’ performance”; the crowd “‘roared’ for more and refused to go home until Robeson sang an ‘indescribably moving’ Ballad for Americans, without orchestra or chorus.”

Ballad for Americans ends like no other song I’ve ever heard. After the lengthy build-up, we wonder, will we at last discover the identity of this mysterious singer?

Deep as our valleys,
High as our mountains,
Strong as the people who made it.
For I have always believed it, and I believe it now,
And now you know who I am.

At that, the exasperated chorus shouts out in unison: Who are you!

And then Robeson, his voice brimming with power and emotion, answers with one word, repeated twice:

America! America!

Paul Robeson lived his life in one America. Barack Obama walked on stage last night — in that very same park — in another, a country that Robeson helped sing into existence.

“The road ahead will be long,” Obama said. “Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there.”

Our greatest songs are still unsung, Robeson had assured a frightened, uncertain America.

It’s as if Obama could still hear his voice — an echo, lingering tenaciously on the cool night air.

The Dove and the Olive Branch

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

It’s 1:35 in the morning on the East Coast, and we are living in a different world.

I’m tired.

I’m amazed.

I’m bleary-eyed.

I am watching CNN — the people are overflowing on Pennsylvania Avenue. They are pressed up against the gates of the White House, jubilant.

This is a tough, tough battle we have won. And, as Barack alluded to tonight, the hardest work is still to come. I will have plenty more to say about this on Wednesday.

Tonight, I want to say congratulations, to all of those who worked so hard to make this happen.

Tonight, I want to thank my cousin, Nate, who worked as hard as I’ve ever seen anyone work, to help elect Barack in Pennsylvania.

And I want to thank my cousin Molly, who was registering voters at a Target in Ann Arbor, long before McCain had even thought of conceding Michigan. Molly, who drove to Akron one weekend to help me take this blog and give it some pizzazz.

I want to thank Jon and Barb, for working — not just this year — but over a number of years, in reliably red Southern Ohio, always convinced that neighborly persuasion and optimism could convince enough voters to turn Ohio blue.

I want to thank my wife, who stayed with the kids all those days I went out canvassing, and who went out today, with my mother-in-law and me, pounding the pavement for Barack as if her life depended on it. And my mother-in-law, who has been working the streets of Akron with me for weeks. Remember that day at the Gas & Go, registering people as they pumped gas, when we dared to imagine an election night victory?

And I want to thank Marsha, for helping with the Jewish vote in Central Jersey.

I want to thank my mom, for calling at the exact right moments with the latest pick-me-up poll updates, and my grandmother, who called Monday night to tell me Obama had run a “brilliant” campaign, and was going to win.

Thanks to Amalie, for heading out solo into the streets of Akron. Thanks to Ytha, for loving and taking care of our kids while we went out barn-storming for Barack. You’ll never know how much it means to us.

Thanks to Himmel, for keeping me sane these many months, and Rosen, for keeping me honest.

Thanks to Loyal, for helping to make this blog what it was, and keeping it real. And to Eileen, for liking it enough to start her own. Thanks to all those who have contributed to this blog — it’s become a community. There are too many to name.

I could go on and on.

But I want to end this night on a different note.

Last week, we read parsha Noah, from Genesis, the story of the ark and the flood. In it, we read that after 40 days of rain, Noah opened the window of the arc, and sent out a raven. Then, he sent out a dove. The dove, though, couldn’t find a resting place, so Noah waited seven days, and sent it out again.

“The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!” we read. “Then Noah knew that the waters had decreased on the earth.”

Here’s the midrashic interpretation of that line: “A dove bearing an olive branch in its beak has become the symbol of the peaceful resolution of conflict. An olive branch, however, tastes bitter. Perhaps this should warn us that although victory is sweet, it sows in the soul of the defeated the desire for revenge. Compromise, which could leave a bitter taste, promises an end to conflict.”

It has been a long and bitter general election campaign. I’m sure many of us — after eight hard years — are feeling that desire for revenge. We want to gloat, just a little.

But that is not the spirit that Barack Obama conjured tonight. That would only make it tougher for him ultimately to govern. If he is to succeed — if we are to succeed — we need to reach out to the other side, now, more than ever, in a spirit of compromise. If they’re not ready, we should tread lightly, and wait until they are.

With this in mind, my wife and I went outside a half an hour ago, and took down our Obama-Biden yard signs, along with several others touting local Democratic candidates.

It’s a small thing. But I’m pretty sure our neighbors will appreciate it when they look across the road tomorrow morning, on their way to work.

Enjoy this day — It’s freaking epic. Have pride in those signs (and bumper stickers, and pins) for a little bit longer. And then, take them down.

I bet Barack would have it no other way.

My Obama Minute: Ohio, Midday Report

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

I left the house early to start making the rounds at ten polling locations in Ward 8, including one site targeted by the party, statewide. The lines were moving very smoothly. I’d say the longest wait I saw was about 20 to 30 minutes.

After I finished my rounds, I spent the rest of the morning lining up volunteers, and helping my wife and mother-in-law, who were reporting raw voting data from the targeted location, to help us adjust our voter lists.

This afternoon, we continued canvassing, knocking on doors, working frantically to get out the final votes. My wife and mother-in-law drove one voter to the polls, and drove another man to the Summit County Board of Elections — to drop off his 91-year-old mother’s absentee ballot. Two hard earned votes.

The good news: It’s an absolutely glorious fall day. The perfect excuse to vote.

The bad news: I was just at the staging area when they announced our numbers, statewide, are low. You could feel the air go out of the room when we heard that. If the trend holds up, we could be in big trouble in Ohio.

I texted our volunteer coordinator to ask her how bad things are. She wrote back: “They are not terrible. just not where we need them to be. Hopefully more people will vote tonight, but that means long lines. The morning numbers were not good.”

People, it’s call-out-every-Who-in-Whoville time. We’ve been working too hard for too long to go quietly in Ohio. We have less than three and a half hours to get our supporters to the polls.

If you know any Obama supporter who still has not voted in Ohio — anyone — call them, text them, grab them by the scruff of their neck. Make them understand the fierce urgency of now.