succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, September 25, 2004


So I have three different opportunities tomorrow to help the Kerry campaign. Opportunity #1 GOTV (Get Out The Vote) with local grassroots group Kerry Win Georgia. #2 Voter registration and more general GOTV with Georgia for Democracy. #3 Phone Banking with a local women's organization. Here's the dilemma part:
1. the Kerry Win Georgia folks are going to a section of Atlanta that, well, frankly, scares me. Of course, this is precisely the type of neighborhood where GOTV efforts are most important and can have the most influence. And the group is well organized and has been going to the surrounding area for weeks now and the primary organizer always checks out the neighborhoods beforehand to make sure we'll be safe and whatnot. The rational part of my brain knows everything will (most likely) be ok. Also, my most recent pledge/resolution/whatever was to be braver, so, really, for my own personal betterment, I should make myself do this. But I'm scared.
2. I have a lot of homework to do this weekend. If I decide before I go to bed tonight that I'm going to do one of the above options, I know I'll get up early enough and get organized and get everything done (as I always do). But, selfishly, I've gotten up by 7 am for the past 6 days and I'd like to sleep a while tomorrow. And I'm a little stressed out about the workload for this weekend and the upcoming weeks, so it would be good to get really on top of things this weekend. On the other hand, as I keep harping, the next 38 days are critical, and the above opportunities are really good, effective ways to practice what I preach. So I keep flipping back and forth between school really should be my top priority right now as my success here will have the most long term impact on my ability to 'do good' (whatever that means) later and longer in life, and the terrifying thought that another four years of this man could have just as long of an impact on my life and really, how much of an influence can a shift in priorities for 38 days have on my academic career? So, yeah, that's what I'm mulling over this evening. Well, that, and these things:

Welcome to the America we now live in - another article about the arrests during the GOP convention. Go read the whole thing, but here's the scariest part:
"Too many New Yorkers were willing to look away," said Norman Siegal, a civil liberties lawyer who is representing Pincus. "We don't lose our rights overnight with a big bang; we lose them incrementally over time."
(emphasis mine)

A particularly excellent Badmash cartoon.

The questions journalists should be asking about Bush's National Guard Service (instead of salivating over Dan Rather and 'memo-gate').

An interesting get out the vote tactic. Carrie, I'm particularly interested in your take on this.

And lastly, a question. I know very little about the details of the electoral college, but I started wondering this the other day, while standing in the shower (where I do my best thinking; I've really got to start keeping some sort of water-proof paper/pencil thing in there) - why is the electoral college all or nothing? If a state has, for example, 15 electoral votes, and 2/3 of that state votes for Bush and 1/3 votes for Kerry, why doesn't that state send 10 votes for Bush and 5 for Kerry? I realize the math never works out that neatly in real life, but just hypothetically speaking, what would happen if the electoral college votes from each state were allocated in a way more representative of the actual popular vote in that state?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I recently read about Colorado or some state in that general vicinity voting on a piece of legislation that would actually split up their electoral votes like that. Not sure if it passed...

But electorally, aren't we screwed here in Georgia? How many votes do you have to Get Out in order to even come close to putting us in play?

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, oh yeah. This is Shelby.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It's really hard to say. The notion that GA is always/has always been a red state is crap - Clinton carried the state in both '92 and '96. The thing is, in those years we were near the middle of the pack for voter turnout. In '00 we were second to last. So the folks staying home are the folks who would otherwise vote democrat. My impression is there's been a very successful campaign here to convince people to just stay home, don't bother, because GA is a foregone conclusion and your vote won't make any difference anyway. Which sucks. Whether or not that's true on a national level (I don't believe polls in general, so I don't have a good feel for just how close/far the numbers might be), that still counts as voter disenfranchisement. Also, it ruins the local party. Maybe casting your ballot for Kerry won't make a huge difference (I still think it will, but for argument's sake) but your vote probably will make a difference in national and local senate and house races, not to mention various judicial and other local positions one votes for in these elections. Which really are the people who affect your daily life the most. So I might say I'm out there getting out the vote for Kerry, but it's important to remember that there are a ton of other names on that ballot as well.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its Minnesota that's currently talking about splitting the electoral vote. At least one state already does.... I think its Arizona, but I could be wrong.

As for why, well, its an issue that came up last night at the Knowles rally, since Alaskan democrats feel disenfranchised by the electoral college at times. The answer that was given is that the electoral college, by not going on a straight per capita basis, forces canidates to pay attention to areas that arent population heavy (like Alaska) and not just ignore them. If we went on a straight population basis, basically we'd only see canidates along the coastal states. Most of the West, Alaska, and Hawaii would get dropped from the political process entirely.

It was an interesting argument, one that bears looking into, I feel.

---Vicious Sid

12:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

As far as I've heard that argument before, that only applied to the existence of the electoral college in general, not necessarily as a reason why the college votes themselves couldn't be split up. The number of votes a state gets is based on population, yes? And so that number could still be split in some sort of proportionally representative fashion.
Also, given how many states are currenty disenfranchised because they aren't 'swing states' I think this argument has worn out it's usefulness. But I agree, I need to think about this some more before I can say that with any confidence.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the requiring of students to vote: I don't force them to, but I have handed out voter registration forms in class, as I recite the story of my best NY friend Helena who is from Brazil and can't vote and cries herself to sleep at night. One of the things that makes it a little awkward is that most of my students aren't Americans and they feel like I'm sidelining them. However, so much of what we talk about in class (for god's sakes, it's a fucking ARGUMENT class) is how to apply critical thinking skills to the way we face a consumer culture. It comes up a lot. The important thing is that, as a professor, I force my kids to talk to each other about what they stand for, but that I don't say peep other than "That's a good point. Anyone want to argue?" Actually, now that I'm at Hunter, I find that my students are seriously liberal, but not out of a sense of opposition and thought (like us Kansans, West Virginians, and Ohioans) but out of indoctrination. I want them to take a serious look at the other side, if only so they can find out how stupid it is, and battle it more effectively!
But requiring students to register can be done more effectively than with threats. I just talk about politics enough that they realize if they don't take a form, they might as well throw their fucking degree out the window for all it matters. Guilt. Much more effective than coercion.
Love you, Megan, and so proud of you for your swing-state antics.

4:39 PM  

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