Election Anxiety Open Thread

The early returns are in from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, where Barack Obama amassed a 15-6 advantage over John McCain. Actual state results are ages away. In the meantime, if you’d like to share transpo-related hopes, worries, and analysis about today’s election with the Streetsblog community, use this space. Recommended reading: the "Niccolo Macchiavelli" comment — more like an essay — in response to yesterday’s election eve post.

Also, if you catch any interesting street conditions at your polling place, send a description or picture to tips@streetsblog.org. I’m guessing New York City is blessedly free of drive-thru voting, but you never know.

  • I voted in Astoria. Went quick and smoothly. Save yourself time and know your election district.

  • No irregularities here in Woodside; the wait is maybe a little longer than usual. I think there were four people in line ahead of me. Here’s hoping there’ll be good change at some level of government!

  • I am 22 and I’d like to capture my thoughts before America either elects a president who its first 26 presidents could have legally owned, or brazenly subverts the very ideals it was founded upon by manipulating numbers in a final embarrassingly overt goosestep towards corporate totalitarianism.

    I am nervous. And not night-before-the-swim-test nervous or even night-you-lose-your-virginity nervous, it’s a low rumbling primal panic which I can only liken to Star Wars panic. Disney panic. The edge-of-your-seat-terror that makes you wonder if Skywalker’s doomed after he refuses to join Darth Vader and drops down into the abyss, if the wicked octopus or grand vizier or steroid-pumping-village-misogynist is going to wed/kill/skin the dashing prince and then evil people in dark funny costumes are going to take over the world… if it wasn’t a movie of course.

    And tonight it’s not. It’s not a movie and yet I feel like Obama might as well be wearing an American flag cape while a decaying McCain, in a high-tech robotic spider wheelchair wearing an eyepatch and stroking an evil cat, gives orders to a sexy scheming Palin who marches back and forth through their sub-terranian campaign lair in four inch thigh-highs and full-body black leather catsuit bossing around the evangelical ants with a loooooong whip… umm… is this just me?

    Anyway, the point is that things feel weird folks. I have friends who have peed in waterbottles to keep from interrupting a Halo-playing marathon who got off their asses/couches to volunteer for the Obama campaign not once, but many times. Friends so cheap their body content is at least 1/3 Ramen Noodle who donated a good deal of their hard-earned cash to the campaign. People have registered to vote in record numbers, and yet, something just doesn’t feel right. I think we should stop congratulating ourselves for just voting. To vote is a privilege which people have died for, and I think there’s a whole lot more to be done for the country than to simply help win an election every 4 years.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man-hours spent on both sides by good-intentioned people who want to make a difference in an historic election, so many resources and voices and energies devoted to a single day. After tomorrow, half of that is going to have been a waste. And I can’t help but wonder what could have happened if all that muscle had been put towards something else, and what will happen to its momentum after the election has come and gone. Shouldn’t we be donating our money to good causes whenever we can? Helping people who don’t have? Dedicating some of our time to contribute to making the country which provides for us a better place? Of course a power shift is a hugely significant step on the path to great reform, but worrying about this election has been a wakeup call for me:

    Even if Obama wins, we have not “won.” This isn’t a movie and we can’t toss every greedy lobbyist oil fatcat bigot down a reactor shaft. I think if we dedicate ourselves to the ongoing welfare of the country as much as we have to the outcome of this election, we’ll have a much better shot at coming closer to the overwhelming good the liberals hope Obama will usher in, but which no mere mortal could fully realize alone.

    Which brings me to the other side. I’ve heard a lot of people claim that if McCain wins, they’re leaving. I heard the same thing about Bush’s reelection, and his unelection before that, and nobody seems to be leaving. And that’s fine. Because as much as I complain about certain political happenings, atrocities, etc., I really do like it here and I suspect most other people do too. We have New York and Hollywood, purple mountain’s majesty and sea to shining sea, we created jazz and country music and baseball and cars and lightbulbs and computers and that movie with hundreds of animated singing Chihuahuas! I mean who among the shivering Plymouth pilgrims ever imagined ordering hundreds of animated singing chihuahuas onto a magical box from an invisible information superweb?

    The point being, if things don’t turn out the way I want tomorrow, I feel compelled, as a college-graduated adultish-type-person, to take a stand. And if I’m going to leave I’m going to leave. But if I’m going to stay I’m not going to sit around whining like I have for the past 8 years. It’s like when I don’t clean my room because it’s dirty and then I blame the dirt. So in my very indecisive way, before you and your screen, I’m declaring my intention to make some kind of stand in the event of -(Ican’tevensayit)-, and encouraging you to consider making one too…

    Jump the ship or grab a bucket?
    -Sigh-
    Wasn’t everything so much easier back when the worst possible affront to your values was a PB&J sandwich cut diagonally with crust?

    Anyways, I guess what I’m saying is that if we’re going to stay on board, we should probably be generous with our time and resources when times are tough even more than when the hero saves the day. Because what if he doesn’t? And what if he can’t? If we’re serious about real change, election day should only be the beginning of “Yes we can,” not the end.

    Best,
    Hannah Friedman
    http://www.writinghannah.blogspot.com

  • Two reality checks for anyone affected by Obama-euphoria:

    He led in the opinion polls by, what, about 10 percent? Chalk up five percent to well-established patterns of Republican vote fraud and intimidation, and another five percent to the Bradley effect (people say one thing to pollsters, then do another in the booth).

    And if Obama wins, he’ll be in charge of the executive branch of the federal government. That still leaves the legislative branch (will the Dems win a filibuster-proof majority?) and the judicial branch (Roberts, Scalia, et al, and lower courts also stuffed with conservatives). Then there are state and local governments. And then there is the business community, arguably more powerful than any government. And then there are the personal decisions individuals make every day regardless of what any leader tells them. Like, say, the decision to drive into Manhattan instead of taking a train. There’s only so much a president can do, no matter how good he is.

    Now to reality-check the reality check: If he’s persuasive enough, perhaps he can exert some influence over the other players listed above, exercising power that goes well beyond the legal restrictions of his office. That’s leadership. Be ready for the worst but hope for the best.

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