Well perhaps this is the year that they decide to do the third thing—making some decisions for themselves.
Whom, you may ask, am I referring to? Namely, that vast group of young people and uninvolved individuals who for too long have been AWOL from the crucial moment in any democracy: electing the guy who is going to make the big decisions. They fight our wars, the young, and they certainly are going to pay in a big way for the sins of the fathers and mothers in the current financial implosion. It is now very heartening to see them showing up.
More than 100,000 of them, new voters, have registered in our county since the February primary—this is indeed astonishing. Most of these have done so in the last month! It presages a record turnout, not seen since the savage and depressing year of 1968, with our country mired in a savage, endless, politically cynical war, and two of our noblest leaders struck down by assassin’s bullets. As Yogi said, “Déjà vu all over again.” And it’s a shame to see the repeat.
But there is much to be hopeful about. I look at this as a marvelous occurrence and give much of the credit to Sen. Obama. He has struck a deep chord of emotion and involvement in young people and even some older ones; he has touched people with the hope of a brighter and more idealistic future; he has displayed a notable calm and demeanor, a Presidential temperament, that reassures as it impresses.
Two nights ago, I was phone banking for a local candidate and was very shocked by the responses. Now calling people at dinner time and asking for a few moments of their time is usually as fruitful as answering a door for a Jehovah’s witness on Sunday morning when you’re striving to finish the lawn work. But surprise, surprise, I was heartened by the many people who took time, engaged, and offered comments. It was a wonderful night to see a little democracy in action. Many in my sampling had Hispanic and Indian names; all seemed quite young (to me that’s under 40) and anxious to talk about issues.
I have never had such a positive feeling in the many phone banks and outreach efforts that I have participated in. I am happy and enthusiastic about Nov. 4, not only because we need a change, desperately, in Washington, but also because the new involvement of so many gives rise to feelings of renewed hope and excitement about those that do the work, make the sacrifices and bear the burdens, and who are now taking the final step—voting in the election.