November 4, 2008

Girding To Battle

Filed under: Opinion — Tags: , — Obi Zen Folksinger @ 12:34 am

Girding To Battle

Essay by Howie Dughann


Dawn is still hours away as we rustle together the day. A smell seems to lie upon the air. Syrupy-sweet or almost rose petals. It smells like… Democracy!

   Though we all voted the first day of early voting we still take the day off from work. Digital camera, sun block and a legal pad. Stop at the drug store to get one of those pens that hang around your neck. People are going to wonder which side you’re on.

   Today you are on everyone’s side.




Go to the polls and watch. How long is the line? Does the line move quickly or slow? You may greet people with a friendly wave and the words, ”Watch for vote flipping! Double check your entries!”

   Your own neighborhood poll is a good place to go to watch polls. ( For more excitement please call your local Democratic Party office and see if there is someplace they need watching. It might be all hell-and-gone in a hostile hood. Someplace named after a forest and filled with energy and banking types. Not at all as friendly to a pollwatcher as some place like the 3rd ward (New Orleans, Houston, Chicago)

   You don’t even have to do the whole day. Being there first thing in the morning is the kind of thing that sets the tone for the day. Pack a lunch, anyway. Lots of fruit to keep you awake.

   You might end up just standing there like Kalija the Cigar Indian. Most likely someone will wander up and ask you something. What do I do? How do I get started? Where are the bathrooms? If you want to advise people on how to vote you have to stand on the sidewalk. Stay a Watcher. Don’t get into stupid arguments with people who have already made up their minds. That’s just teaching a pig to sing. Everyone else may enjoy watching but you’ll look silly and it just annoys the pig. Plus you have to stand on the sidewalk.

  Be proud of Watching. Cheerfully explain that you just want to be a civilian observer. Call up your local community radio station with updates.

   If you start as late as I do and you can hang till 9pm then you may get to watch the count. If they don’t want to let you watch be sure to double-check the spelling of everyone’s name. You can send your observations, however dull, to Greg Palast and his web site. The Voting Integrity Project ( would be another good spot.

   Will it help? It’ll make me feel better. It’ll make the people coming to vote feel better. Also, it will help. Every watcher makes it that much harder to steal stuff. If you’re just watching your own local poll then someone else doesn’t have to. There’s about a dozen states where it might make a real difference. Florida, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas will all have nice weather for standing around.

   That’s gonna be my day. I have some steaks thawing and an invitation to the victory party down town. Plenty of evil still left in the Right to deal with Wednesday. Nobody cares what Fox Snooze thinks of anything tonight. I’m gonna quote Molly Ivins ( and Patrick Henry till my Sweetie takes me home and feeds me homeopathic hangover cures. And coffee with maple syrup. That way it’ll smell like Democracy.

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