Posts Tagged ‘2008 presidential elections’

Passing Of Time, Robert Frost as a young man, from Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Passing Of Time II, Robert Frost as a middle-aged man, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Passing Of Time III, Robert Frost as an aging man, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Passing Of Time, Robert Frost, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It’s November 4th, 2008 and history is being made in the United States of America. Liz and I voted this morning at our local precinct in Minneapolis; ybonesy is out in New Mexico continuing her good work. I take comfort in the realization that we all contribute to the process in the ways we are able. Some are out canvassing, some write articles for the newspaper or on their blogs, some work at the polls, some pray and hold the space, a kind of quiet peace.

All contributions matter in times like this, from the most subtle to the most vigorous. And I have a great deal of gratitude that we live in a democracy that allows us to have a voice, to vote our conscience, whoever that may be. Yet it occurs to me that the ordinary day-to-day things continue to go on around us. We don’t stop living our lives.

Yesterday, we got a new roof on our house, called the dentist office, cleaned the living room, folded laundry, stocked up on groceries in preparation for a long and busy week. Tomorrow night we’ll attend the next Poetry & Meditation Group with Langston Hughes. Yesterday, ybonesy and I celebrated 2 years of writing together on red Ravine. Tomorrow we’ll know the results of the election and a long, tumultuous, political process will come to an end.

The extraordinary lives by the ordinary. Practice continues. Writing continues. Life continues. Someone will be born; someone will die.

In our last few Poetry & Meditation groups, we continued with the Dead Poets series. Since we can no longer send the poets postcards, Teri addressed cards to the directors of the Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson homes, thanking them for their Great Effort in keeping poetry alive.

We all signed our names in a gesture of gratitude and kindness. Because in moments when we are unsure, or times when we want to give up, these people, places, and books become our mentors. The preservation of literary places is vital to our creative livelihood.

So on this electric Tuesday, I’m celebrating the historic; I’m celebrating the ordinary. November 3rd and 5th are as important as November 4th.  Every day counts. If you feel anxiety about the election results, sometimes it helps to go back to basics — writing, journaling, a practice. Both Frost and Dickinson wrote about everyday events in their lives.

In times of uncertainty, I find peace in expressing gratitude for the people who came before us — because they pave the way for the history being made today. A prize-winning American author of children’s literature, Virginia Euwer Wolff (not to be confused with British novelist, Virginia Woolf) shows her love of Emily Dickinson in the Introduction to I’m Nobody! Who are You?, a children’s book about Dickinson’s poetry.

Here’s an excerpt from Virginia Wolff’s tribute to Emily Dickinson:

In my studio I have a quotation from Emily Dickinson: “My business is Circumference.”

Near my desk I keep a photo of Emily Dickinson’s bedroom and writing table. The photograph reminds me that writing — yours, mine, ours — is important in our relationship with the world, even if no one else ever sees it. Even if it was to stay in bundles in our bedrooms, it would still have pungence, spunk, and heart — if only because we had the courage to put it on paper.

In our time, this secret woman who thought of life as “mystic territory” is listed in the Academy of American Poets and crowds of eager tourists visit the large brick house she lived in at 280 Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Some thoughts on what to call her. I feel that calling her “Miss Dickinson” shows respect for her dignity and her veil of seclusion. But in the privacy of my own Home, looking at the picture of her writing table on my windowsill and reading her “Circumference” statement on my wall, I call her Emily. You’ll decide what seems right for you. I think she would want it that way.

-Virginia Euwer Wolff

What strikes me is that it’s not a photograph of the poet herself that Wolff holds close to her own writing life. Instead, it’s a place, an ordinary object, a moment in time — an image of Dickinson’s bedroom and her writing table — the place Emily rested her hand when she penned her last poem.

–posted on red Ravine, Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, historic day, ordinary day, with gratitude to all who have led us here

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hope change hope, A Fourth Street resident in Albuquerque expresses wishes for the ’08 presidential elections, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

My daughters are in on it now. This weekend, driving down Fourth Street in Albuquerque’s north valley, Em points one out.

“Mom, we just passed a really good sign.”

“Was it worth stopping for?” I ask her.

“Yes, yes!”

I pull over, wait for the cars behind me to pass, then do a U-ey. She’s right, this one is gorgeous.

Here’s what we’re noticing as we drive around town. People in the central Rio Grande Valley are expressing their support for Barack Obama in very creative ways. Signs are cropping up everywhere—and not just your ordinary signs. We’re seeing oodles of the large Hope sign that features the bold graphic of Obama’s face. And we’re seeing handmade forms of political expression into which people are putting time, energy, beauty, and humor.

All along the main roads in Albuquerque’s north valley, as well as Corrales, you can see ’em. Yes, there are plenty of your standard political signs for both sides, but the ones we’re stopping to admire and photograph are standout.

Maybe it’s because New Mexico is a battleground state. In the 2000 presidential elections, Al Gore squeaked by with less than 500 votes. In 2004, Bush won by only 6,000 votes. And in the 2008 Democratic primaries, it took a week before the winner was declared. (Hillary won by about 1,700 votes.)

We get serious about our races in this state, and this year Albuquerque and Corrales—two cities in the central Rio Grande Valley—are working hard to make New Mexico “blue.”

Personally, I’m knocking on doors in historically “red” precincts, and even though it’s not my favorite type of work (last election, homeowners nearly chased me off their lawns by election day) I’m still putting myself out there.

And I can tell you this. Deep in my gut, I know that NM will, indeed, be “blue” this election. I feel it in my bones.

Here are five completely non-scientific reasons why:

  1. The signs. No one ever got this into it in 2004. No one seemed to do anything more than slap a machine-made yard sign in front of a wall. The signs we’re seeing this round tell me something about the level of passion people have—they’re going out of their way to express themselves.
  2. At an early vote rally on the day after early voting began, about 100 Obama supporters and I stood with signs on one of the busiest street corners in one of the most conservative precincts around, and we got a surprisingly large number of thumbs-up, high-fives, and cheers from passing cars. Yes, we heard and saw a few obscenities, but the positives far outweighed the negatives.
  3. Going door-to-door in a “red” district, I’m seeing a lot of Obama signs (ordinary garden variety) and I’m hearing people say, “Yes, you can count on our support!” Some of these folks are NM’s version of so-called “Dixie-crats,” Democrats who in the past few elections have voted based on so-called “culture” issues. One guy came out and said, “I don’t like homosexuals, gun control, or abortions, but I like Obama.” On my most recent round of canvassing, I even ran into Republican couple who said, “We’re done with the Republicans; we’re voting Democrat.”
  4. I’ve gone from being a nervous Nellie to having hope. I worked the 2004 elections and I can tell, something is different this time ’round. I’m proud to wear my Obama buttons and drive around with my “Obamanos” bumper sticker on my car. Last election, people flipped me off when they saw my Kerry bumper sticker. I got to where I cowered over my political expression. All that fear is gone today.
  5. Finally, my kids tell me that most of their friends are voting for Obama. Of course, my kids’ friends can’t vote, but their parents can. I have a feeling these young’ins are echoing their parents’ preferences.

So there you have it. I see hope on the ground, and I feel hope in my heart.

Now let’s go make it happen.



-Related to post WRITING TOPIC – WHY I VOTE.

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Inspired by Teresa Valle

Feminist Suffrage Parade, NYC circa 1912, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

In the United States, every citizen at least 18 years of age has the right to vote. It is a right we take for granted.

The highest voter turn-out we’ve seen in recent times was in 1960, when 63.1% of the voting-age population exercised its right to elect a president. That year, Democrat John Fitzgerald Kennedy received 34,220,984 (49.72%) votes, barely beating out Republican Richard Milhous Nixon, who received 34,108,157 (49.55%) votes.

The right to vote is a fundamental liberty granted by our Constitution. But it wasn’t always so.

The U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, defined the process our country would undertake to elect its presidents and vice-presidents, including the concept of an electoral college. However, state constitutions determined eligibility to vote and in most cases excluded Blacks, Women, and The Poor. With few exceptions, only White, Land-Owning Men could participate in the creation of this country’s government.

Eventually and thanks to the blood and sweat of many who came before us, the Constitution was amended to expand voting rights:

  • The Fifteenth Amendment (1870) established that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (It took almost a century longer, for the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, to fulfill the full promise of the Fifteenth Amendment in all states.)
  • The Nineteenth Amendment (1920) established that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Alice Paul and Lucy Burns formed the Congressional for Women Suffrage in 1913, and successfully brought about this amendment, which Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton originally sought in 1878.
  • The Twenty-Fourth Amendment (1964) established that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

Women Suffragists picketing in front of the White,
House, 1917, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Write for your right

Don’t give up your right to vote by not exercising it on November 4! It doesn’t matter who you vote for—just please, VOTE!

Fellow blogger Teresa Valle hit home this message with a poignant and powerful expression of why she votes. Read her words, and then sit down to your own Writing Practice.

Why I Vote

By Teresa Valle

I vote because I believe that citizenship has certain rights and responsibilities. I vote because I believe in supporting the common good. I vote because I believe in freedom of religion. I vote because I believe in the principle that those of us who are fortunate enough to be strong and successful have a responsibility to help those who are less able or less fortunate. I vote because I believe the health of our people translates into the health of our country. I vote because I believe in freedom of assembly. I vote because I believe in freedom of speech. I vote because, as someone who drives on the roads, relies on the fire department, the police department, the hospitals that treat our illnesses, and the schools that educate our children, I believe I need to pony up and pay my taxes. I vote because I believe we get what we pay for. I vote because I believe we need to work hard and pay attention in order to protect ourselves, one another and our system of governance. I vote because I believe appropriate regulation can help protect our children from tainted toys, tainted foods, and the consequences of poorly controlled toxic overload. I vote because I believe the common good is best served by an informed and involved electorate. I vote because I believe in the civil treatment of individuals during wartime, and I believe in the rule of law. I vote because I believe in the power of posse comitatus to limit the excessive use of military intervention against our own citizenry. I vote because I believe the rights of the individuals and families in our country rise above the rights of corporate monoliths. I vote because I believe I am part of the natural world and that it needs our protection and stewardship. I vote because I believe in the right to bear arms. I vote because I believe in the separation of church and state. I vote because I believe in the power of the human mind, for good, for evil, and for the full range of possibilities in between. I vote because I believe in choice: not simply reproductive choice; rather, the larger concept of choice that allows us to agree or disagree without fear of reprisal. I believe in the larger concept of choice that allows us to pursue higher education, to pursue the religious convictions that speak to us as individuals and as members of formal religion, to pursue happiness and meaning in our personal relationships and our marriages, to pursue the freedoms that have defined us as a nation. I vote because I believe in sharing the burdens, the joys, and the blessings of living here and living now. I vote because I believe.


Teresa Valle is the pen name of Teresa Phillips, a writer, goose farmer, and therapist living and working in a river community in central New Mexico. Although she is primarily a writer of short fiction—which she publishes on her fiction blog, Cuentos—she’s recently been experimenting with creative non-fiction and essays at Trees for the Forest.

To vote is human

  • Problems in the 2000 Presidential Elections prompted voting process reform, specifically via the Help America Vote Act of 2002. This act provided state funds to replace punch card machines with electronic voting machines (on-going), established the independent, bipartisan Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and developed minimum election administration standards for states to follow. 
  • Currently there are five methods for voting in the U.S.—paper ballots (used since U.S. independence, with secret ballot inroduced at the end of the 19th century), mechanical lever machines (introduced in the late 19th century and the most common method of voting through the mid 1980s), punch cards (first implemented in the early 1960s), optical scan (first used in the 1960s and currently the most common method of voting), and direct recording electronic (introduced in the mid 1970s and the second most used method).
  • Three groups of individuals are vital to the voting process: voters, poll workers, and election officials.

Vote early, vote often

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Peace Be with US, a flag flies for peace during the rest of the election season, October 1, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

…don’t say anything at all.


It’s my plea to all passionate participants in our national elections.

If you can’t say something nice—about McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden, and especially about and to their respective supporters—don’t say anything at all.

I’m tired of the bickering. The rage is wearing me down. I am a passionate person myself, and I don’t shy away from making my opinions known, but frankly, I can’t handle any more nastiness.

…you should just shut up and quit showing how stupid you are…

      -one commenter to another, on progressive The Huffington Post

…if anyone is a blathering idiot, it’s you…

      -one commenter to another, on conservative Michelle Malkin

Every morning I get up, grab a cup of coffee and scan my bookmarked websites to get the latest news on the presidential elections. I check all the usuals: AlterNet, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, msnbc.com, CNN.com, Politico, RealClearPolitics, and Washington Monthly. It soothes me to go to these sources as most have stories with a “blue-state” bent. News I can hang on to.

I don’t claim it’s a balanced approach—it’s not—but for someone like me, who can feel the anxiety rise every time I think about what might happen November 4, reading articles that confirm my world view keeps me calm. I get how venting about “the other side” can serve as a release and a way for like-minded people to bond. I find satisfaction there, too.

Well, I used to.

Even as much as I am guilty of seeking that kind of validation, I can honestly say I have finally OD’d.

I’m turned off by the meanness. Bloggers, pundits, columnists, candidates and their campaigns all set off the brawls with their claims and taunts. Then the spectators jump in. Behind the cloak of internet anonymity, they turn into hateful, rageful people. They attack. They say things I can’t imagine they’d ever say in person.

Internet rage has been around for as long as the internet has been around; who hasn’t received a flaming email at least once? But civil discourse has gone out the window, right at the time we need it most. We are losing our capacity to see one another as humans.

Right now, with tensions as high as they are, the last thing we need is to beat one another down. Right now, today, we need kindness and compassion. I need kindness and compassion.

Tonight is the vice-presidential debate. It promises to be a slugfest. Palin and Biden will be ferocious, and if they’re not, the internet and spin machines will fill in on their behalf. I, however, plan to swim against the current, and I’d like you to join me.

Before, during, and after the debate, I invite you to come here and say something nice about Palin or Biden or both. Anything. No sarcasm. No underhanded compliments. Find something you honestly feel the candidates have done well, even if it has to do with how they look. 

You’ll still get mad at the candidate you want to lose (or the one you want to win) and probably reach a point where you can’t believe what you’re seeing. I’m not asking you to be a saint. But find one nugget. See if it helps shift something inside.

I know this is silly. I know it’s more about me than it is the rest of you. But the way I see it, a lot hangs in the balance and it isn’t just who wins in November.

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Viva Kennedy, detail of old political button given to me by my father, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Something happens to me every four years, right about now. I start to care about the presidential elections.

I start to get passionate and close in on who I want to win my party’s nomination. I watch closely what the candidates say. I check in on what analysts say and what polls say. I watch the debates then read the articles following the debates. I tune in to happenings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

I pray.


I come from a political family. My parents are both Democrats, with deep roots to the leaders and programs that shaped the party. Here, an excerpt my father wrote about his mother captures the way a particular time and circumstance can create loyalty toward a party:

She was a strong Democrat and loved to get involved in politics. Her greatest political triumph came in 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt won the election over President Hoover. She had supported Roosevelt and had actively campaigned for him…

…Sometime around 1936 (or maybe late 1935), Magdalena got a break in life that lessened her burden for the first time. The federal government under President Roosevelt started a work project for the economically disadvantaged women and she was eligible to participate. This project, known informally as “la costura” or the sewing, was similar to the WPA except that it was for women alone caring for a family. Magdalena was selected to head the project for our community and we were very proud of her.

So all of a sudden the front room in our house, or what we called our living room, was transformed into a mini-factory full of sewing machines and bolts of cloth all around. The women had to furnish their own sewing machines (a necessary appliance that every household had) which were kept at our house. The women reported to work for eight hours a day on weekdays and produced childrens’ clothing, blankets and other items urgently needed which were then shipped out for distribution to the needy.

Following family tradition, I become an activist during political campaigns. In 2004, I worked in my precinct, registering voters and getting out the vote. But writing about politics — especially when yours is not a political blog — is tricky.

I write about my kids, animals, Jim, the weather, holidays, quirks, writing. I don’t write with an aim to convince anyone to come around to my way of thinking. And I don’t write to debate the goodness or not of my views.

Yet, so goes politics.

One time in early November for my dad’s birthday party, which my Republican sister held at her house, her Republican husband went on and on about how much he loved Rush Limbaugh. My dad boycotted Thanksgiving at that same sister’s house that year.

We have a policy to not talk politics at our family gatherings. We’re all passionate. Things end badly when we disagree.

So, it is with some trepidation that I now proclaim, being as how I’m obsessed with interested in politics these days, that I plan to write every now and then about the national elections. I might make fun of Mitt Romney’s hair (wouldn’t he be perfect for a Grecian Formula commercial?) or the bags under the eyes of that old Republican dude. (No, not McCain. The other old dude.)

I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if I start seeing on other writing-slash-personal blogs more posts about the elections. In fact, if you’re so inclined, you should write about politics, too. That way I know I won’t be the only one doing it.

Here. To get you started, write for 15 minutes on this prompt: “When we talk politics in my family, this is what happens.”

Good luck. And may the best candidate win.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…Barack rocks my socks. My parents are for Hillary, and it dawned on me yesterday that at 82, Mom won’t have many other chances to see a woman president. I could live with Hillary, too. Or Edwards. I like all three. And Richardson (oh fair New Mexico) as the veep. I‘d be am a happy Democrat! 


P.S., Dad’s a button collector. I have a ton of ’em. More to come…

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