What were you doing the day before that election?
That’s going to be the question people are asking one another years from now about tomorrow’s important election.
Will you say you worked hard? Did all you could? Did nothing?
What “Black Leaders” Said
This morning, Sen. Obama held an African American Leadership Conference Call featuring Donna Brazile, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Oprah, Diddy, and others. What those people had to say was really nothing remarkable. Brazile did give another number to use if you have trouble at the polls: 877-US-4-OBAMA. Use it.
What Senator Obama Said
Senator Obama spent much more time speaking with all of us than I expected him to. During his 5 or 6 minute remarks (I expected maybe 2 minutes), he sounded exceptionally calm, thoughtful, and reflective. Wouldn’t it be great to have leadership like that?
He talked about the importance of the journey that he has traveled with his supporters. He talked about the historical importance of his campaign and potential election for Black adults and children alike. He talked about why the “fierce urgency of now” must energize everyone to work through tomorrow to ensure that people are heard and able to vote. He did not give us a stump speech. He did not repeat his closing arguments. Instead, he gave a personal set of remarks that really gave insight onto who he is as a person. And all of this was after he already found out about the passing of his grandmother. Wow.
What were you doing?
I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to show that we all have things that we can do. It’s not enough to vote. We deserve the leadership we work for.
Barack Obama understood that and empowered everyday people to do more this season than any campaign ever has. Let’s use this collective power to work for better leadership this Election Day, and every day after.
One Love. One II.
Brandon and I have been hearing all kinds of weird interesting things that people are doing between now and the close of the polls tomorrow. A couple examples:
- “Man, I’m not gonna _________ until _________ gets elected tomorrow.”
Fill in the blanks with whatever you want: eat, shower, shave, hoop, whatever. After you finish working your ass off today or tomorrow, take time and do what you have or want to do. This isn’t the time for silly superstitions.
- If Obama doesn’t win, I’m going to _________.
Fill in this blank with something riotous, violent, or offensive. While many people may be upset at McCain winning, burning up poor neighborhoods probably isn’t going to accomplish much. Consider doing something more productive.
Let’s work hard. Let’s be smart. Let’s vote. Let’s make sure others vote. But in doing that, let’s still take care of our kids tonight. Let’s still stay clean while we await the next President.
Don’t do anything stupid. Trust me, everything will be alright.
One Love. One II.
My girlfriend and I have been doing a pretty large amount of volunteering for local political efforts here in Seattle, including Barack Obama and the Mass Transit Now Campaign. This has included lit dropping, my own work managing the Social Media and Text Message Strategy for WA Obama campaign, and phone banking for Obama and Mass Transit Now. It’s been a great experience.
While making calls, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: people ardently refusing to share how they voted in a particular race or on a particular issue.
Do most people feel this way?
I don’t understand the harm in sharing the way that you voted with another person after you’ve already voted. The vote is cast, the deal is done, so why not talk about it?
At first I thought that the people were just annoyed by the phone call, but that wasn’t the case, as most of them were quite talkative. Then I thought, maybe they’re ashamed or embarrassed by their vote, not wanting to tell me because they voted against the cause I was pedaling. Could be. Then I thought, maybe it’s generational, with older voters holding their votes more private & sacred, but this was dispelled when an 18 year-old people told me he wouldn’t share.
I guess I’ll just put this in the “things other people do that I’d never do” pile.
One Love. One II.
YES! Magazine released today their 12 Ways You Can Safeguard the Vote tool. It contains links to lots of great resources, and tips for what you can do before, on, and after Election Day to make sure that your vote is properly counted.
Here is their checklist:
- Check Your Registration. Make sure there are no errors, mistakes, or discrepancies which would prevent you from being able to vote.
- Vote Now. Vote early, in person or by mail, if you can in your state. Check if you can using Know How To Vote.
- Learn how to vote. Read your voter pamphlet to understand how your paper ballot works, and if voting using an electronic machine, get a clear demonstration first.
- Identify State & Local election officials. Get their names and numbers because these are the people to call if there are problems.
- Vote as early as possible on Election Day to avoid long lines & hassle.
- If you have ID, bring it with you. If you have a cell phone, bring that too.
- Avoid straight-party voting. Vote for each race individually, to make sure your votes each count exactly as you want them to.
- Verify your vote, especially when voting on an electronic voting machine. There have already been cases in states like West Virginia where people used the touch screen to select Barack Obama but had the machine count their vote for John McCain. Just like at the store, get a receipt.
- Observe, Document, Report. If you or anyone else that you see has issues voting, take good notes & inform the authorities using resources such as 866-OUR-VOTE.
- Call your candidate. Encourage them to challenge results you don’t trust. Sign up to help.
- Call your election officials. Hold them accountable to their responsibility to ensure clean elections
- Work towards fair and transparent elections. Learn about election & voting issues, and take action before the next election.
One Love. One II.
P.S. I recently joined the Communications Advisory Board of YES! Magazine.
On Monday, I was interviewed as part of a small series on Politics and Technology by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine. We talked at length about early voting, why it’s such a big issue this election, what are the types of good & bad things that we can do with early voting data, and ways that people can find out early voting information with tools like Know How To Vote.
I’m looking forward to talking with Jeff again about Politics and Technology soon.
One Love. One II.
Now that early voting registration is over in most states, it’s time to think about actually voting!
I think of elections in 3 ways:
- Voter Registration Done. (Everyone is registered, right?)
- Voter Education
- Election Protection
Voter Education means making sure people know the rules & laws of voting in their state so that they can exercise their right to vote in the way that is legal and most convenient for them. Brandon’s list of MI Voting Rights is a great education tool, and something similar exists for each state. Election protection is the process of making sure that every vote that is cast is correctly counted. We’ll get to this one shortly…
Vote Early or Absentee if you can
Here’s why you should vote early:
- If there are issues or problems with your registration, you can have them addressed long before election day.
- Voting earlier means your vote is counted earlier, which means that there’s less of a chance of your vote magically changing on election night.
- It just makes your life easier. Take a look at this great blog post on Early Voting at Daily Kos.
In the spirit of Voter Education & encouraging voters to vote smart and vote early, I created a site called Know How To Vote (www.knowhowtovote.us). Know How To Vote will tell you how to vote early in your state (if it’s possible), and how to vote absentee in your state. You can find the info in 2 ways:
- From your cell phone:
Text HOWTOVOTE & your state’s 2-letter abbreviation (e.g. MI for Michigan) to 41411.This will let you know if you can vote early in your state and if voting absentee in your state requires an excuse. It will also give you a website URL that you can go to for more detailed information.
- From the web @ www.knowhowtovote.us
Go to the site and type in your state’s 2-letter abbreviation to see detailed early & absentee voting info for any state, including whether you can vote early at all, in person, or by mail, and how to submit your reason/excuse for early/absentee voting according to state law
Find out quickly how to vote early in your state, wherever you are. If you’re talking about voting with your friends at work and on the bus, show them on the spot how to vote early by sending a text message.
In this election season, using technology to help the electoral process is not only easier than ever, it’s more important than ever. Sending text messages is already fun; let’s make it meaningful.
One Love. One II.
P.S. Yes, this was a personal plug :-).
I co-hosted a Debate Party on Friday night that doubled as a Fundraiser for Barack Obama. The party was fun, the food was delicious, and the people I watched the debate with, including the Bus Chick & people from YES! Magazine and Reclaim the Media, couldn’t have been cooler.
What could have been better was my candidate’s performance. Here’s why this debate was a lost opportunity:
- Too much agreement
- Posturing on Pakistan & Afghanistan
- Nuclear Iran only posing a threat to Israel
- Iran’s army is a terrorist organization
- Venezuela is a rogue nation
(All the references I make here can be seen in the Debate Transcript, courtesy of the New York Times.)
Yesterday afternoon, I participated in a call with new NAACP President & CEO Ben Jealousheld a press conference with Black bloggers and members of the Black press to kick off his tenure and discuss his top 2 priorities: helping Hurricane Ike survivors and ensuring full participation in the upcoming election.
NAACP and Hurricane Ike
According to Jealous, the NAACP National Office sent 3 of its staff people to do two things:
- Ensure fairness in the distribution of aid
- Ensure the sins of Katrina are not repeated
They’ve got their work cut out for them, and Jealous actually told us something else disturbing about the lead-up to the storm:
Some poor communities complained to the NAACP that they were not adequately warned of the storm, its seriousness, or the voluntary/mandatory evacuations. This is because the warnings happened almost exclusively on TV, and these people had no TV.
People with questions in the state and out of state can call the NAACP Command Center, which is at their Texas State Conference, at (512) 322-9547.It is a travesty that the NAACP’s Command Center is set up before FEMA’s.
Making sure peoplve vote
While Jealous is working to make sure that folks in the wake of Ike get proper aid and electrical power, he and the NAACP are working hard to make sure that those folks’ electoral power is also fully restored and available. The rights of voters in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina was a major issue, and I actually marched in support of the re-enfranchisement of those voters.
In what Jealous called “a sign of things to come,” he announced Upload 2 Uplift, a website that gives people the ability to do 2 things:
- Register themselves to vote online, or print out registration forms that they can mail in
- Register their friends and contacts to vote
#2 is very important, and it’s this “social voter registration” capability that really sets this tool apart from other online voter registration tools. Many people know they have friends that are not registered to vote. If you know that person’s email address, you can give them a very simple way to register quickly online. Additionally, the system will send people reminders by email and/or text message to let them know when to vote and where to vote, if they want it too. Pretty cool.
A great start
This was a good meeting for Jealous, and he demonstrated a new way of thinking about the NAACP and about advocacy & civic engagement. By including Black bloggers in his first press conference, Ben Jealous showed that blogging and other forms of new and online media will be an important part of the NAACP’s strategy going forward. By creating its first real online tool, the NAACP shows that technology and the Internet will be important parts of their strategy going forward. I am looking forward to see what they do with this momentum.
One Love. One II.
7 years ago today the world stood still in the face of tragedy as Americans, Black, white, and everyone else stared in pure horror as we saw real planes crash into real buildings with living, breathing people inside them in real time. Then, few saw it as a teaching moment: a moment that we could learn from. Since then, the majority of us have activated our analytical minds and searched for understanding regarding the events that took place on that day and the series of happenings that led to that disaster.
As we remember that day, those who were injured and killed, those who demonstrated the apex of human bravery, and those who have since perished in events related to 9/11, I ask that we contemplate a basic truth exemplified on that day:
When People Lie, People Die
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in one of his many non-“I Have A Dream”-speeches, said this about what I’ll call the Continuum of Lying:
Jesus realized something basic: that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” In other words, “Your whole structure must be changed.”
In other words, many big, huge, terrible, evil things start off itty bitty lies. Lies that went unchallenged. Fallacies that were presented and accepted. Falsehoods that are seen then ignored.
Barack Obama said this plainly during his Acceptance Speech at the DNC in Denver. It bears repeating and applying here when talking about how we need to stop accepting the lies that politicians tell. (…cough…John McCain…cough…Sarah Palin…cough…)
I don’t like being lied to, and frankly, you shouldn’t either. It’s insulting and disrespectful, and it leads to people getting harmed, hurt, and killed.
So in rememberance of 9/11, its victims, and its survivors, let’s reject lying in our homes, lying in our workplaces, and lying in our politics. Who knows how many lives we can save by just doing that.
One Love. One II.
This piece is part of Day of Blogging for Community Organizing Justice: “I Am a Community Organizer”.
Republicans don’t like Community Organizers. Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin ridiculed them specifically in their speeches last Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN. This modern crop of Republicans has demonstrated how much they hate grassroots organizing in many ways with their hatred or unionization, their damnation of dissenters inside and outside of the government, and their willingness to ignore the rights, thoughts, and actions of the people of foreign nations that they decide to invade destroy occupy “help”.
While these positions on their own are outrageous and not in line with the ideals of the America that Republicans claim to love so much, it is consistent with another thread of modern-day Republican rhetoric and practice: racism.
For every generation leading up to [and including] the current one, the only foray for Black people to better their lives collectively has been through community organizing. When I say community organizing, I don’t just mean the highly visible ones like Malcolm & Martin, I mean the invisible ones that most of us will never hear or speak of that sacrifice their time, treasure, and talents so that people’s day-to-day lives are better and that their voices are heard. This is the path that nearly all Black politicians have taken to attain the capital needed to even run for office, let alone win. For one to minimize the work of organizers is to minimize the thoughts, actions, and efforts of all minorities and underrepresented groups who wish to uplift themselves individually and as a whole.