My blog penance in Liberty City on Election Day

If done right, the Christian life is meant to be humbling. It calls for constant self-examination. I figured Election day was a perfect day to reexamine my views, specifically about our new president, which I find much to be concerned about.

In terms of humility, being an opinionated conservative political junkie and blogger during a presidential campaign is kind of like being 100 pounds overweight and trying to run a marathon, you’re just asking for trouble. So while I know I could intellectually defend everything I’ve written here, there was one nagging thought. Can you tell I’m a Christian by what you read here? I don’t mean every post [and I’ve had a lot of fun with my attempts at very politically incorrect satire], but the overall tone. Did I give the benefit of the doubt, show humility etc. The answer was no.

I had an idea on how to address that, meet with Obama supporters. I really don’t interact with any in my normal routine. While I don’t like their candidate, I can be happy for a regular person who is getting to see their guy win. I can relate to how I felt in 1980 when Reagan was elected. Since I was determined not to have a lousy election day, I set aside some time yesterday afternoon and drove around Liberty City voting precincts. Getting voters to chat was not easy. A white guy with a clipboard was a definite turnoff I learned. But when no voters where available, I did get to speak with a number of volunteers from the area. My initial question to all who would listen was; What’s the one concrete thing you’d like to see from an Obama presidency? This is who I saw and what I heard.

2350 NW 54 ST: Precinct 262 – PEPPER TOWERS:

A rocky start. I walk up to van full [8] of young people loaded with Obama materials outside of what looked like a condo. College volunteers I assume. I try to start a conversation with one guy and realized that he had an accent and that they all looked Swedish. Under the slim possibility that I may have stumbled upon some bizarre kidnapping, I persist in getting them to talk. ‘Sven’ responds that all questions should be directed to the campaign office. What?! Now I really start giving them a hard time and they panic and drive off. What?! I’ve never felt so Republican. Those were the last people I intimidated all day.

This precinct was right on a major street in Liberty City and cars were happily honking all the time when they saw the Obama signs.

  • Betsy D – Economy was her main issue. Hoping that something could be done to help people in danger of losing their homes.
  • Annonymous Guy–would not give his first name, he didn’t mind that I didn’t support Obama, but could not trust someone who was for McCain–He did not think color had anything to do with his support of Obama. He hoped that Obama would make things better for all people. ‘We need change,’ he repeated wearily.
  • Robert – ‘Time for a change.’ Was not bothered by Obama’s lack of experience, since look where 8 years of Bush’s experience got us.

2991 NW 62 ST: Precinct 259 – DAYSPRING BAPT CHURCH – no pictures to be had here:

  • Arlene L. – Health insurance was her main issue, but mainly just wanted a change.
  • Kay – attorney poll watcher – Wanted an end to the hatefulness, felt that nothing gets accomplished in that type of environment.

757 NW 66 ST: Precinct 507 – THENA CROWDER ELEMENTARY – Hard to overstate how open and friendly the Haitian-born couple were:

  • Dan [Firefighter monitoring for safety] Allowed me get a list of nearby precincts, which was a great help. One of many volunteers throughout the precincts which make everything go smoothly.
  • Mirlande – ‘Who am I for?,’ she asked repeating my question. ‘I am for me.’ If Obama is elected, she felt ‘America’s image would change overnight.’ She regretted that ‘all the focus on Obama being black, always discounts the fact that he’s half-white.’

  • Monaud – ‘Obama as president would reflect the melting pot which is America.’ When I asked him what things he regretted about the campaign he indicated that he disliked when Obama made McCain sound like he wanted to stay in Iraq for 100 years, when that clearly is not what he meant. On the other hand, he disliked the way Obama was accused of being a Muslim, ‘what’s so bad about that, ‘ he asked. Monaud himself is a Seventh-day Adventist. With respect to the chances of Obama being a radical, he doubted that someone that radical could have risen so far on the national scene.

514 NW 77 ST: Precinct 501 – LITTLE RIVER ELEM SCHOOL – Really nice day out, by the way. I had to remind myself that I had ‘a job to do,’ when we started talking about Miami high school kids who have made it in sports, the Colzie’s, the Edwards’, Udonis Haslem etc:

  • Bruce – ‘Whoever is president, they got a problem.’ He was hoping for a change, but just glad the race was over. He enjoys the TV program, ‘The View,’ and feels that it illustrates how we have to get along with all kinds of people. He was a Northwestern [high school] guy and when he found out I was from Miami High, that made a big difference. We spoke for about 30 minutes. Bruce raised 3 kids who have moved elsewhere. Told me not to worry about not seeing my kids as they get older, ‘they never really leave, even when they leave!’

5821 NW 7 AVE: Precinct 521 – EDISON TOWERS – The 2 ladies I met here run a property management company which operates the Towers. Very impressive people. When I first told them I had already voted, they said too bad, we could have gotten you to vote for Obama. The Towers were full of very happy people as loud music played in the late afternoon:

  • Heidi – Health insurance was her big issue. Thought it was a shame that some people actually get medicine from Canada. I challenged her on that and believe that was aware of actual cases of that occurring. While she opposed abortions, she questioned whether the Bush administration did all it could to reduce abortions since they reduced funding for a lot of the ‘at-risk’ programs which are designed to prevent teen pregnancies. Regarding the whole socialist attacks, she asked, aren’t we taught by the bible, ‘for whom much is given, much is expected.’

  • Carol – Was hoping that her taxes would be reduced in an Obama administration. Again, regarding the criticisms about spreading the wealth, she recalled the bible story about the man who was told to sell all he had to be like Christ. Regarding welfare, she asked how that differed from the Earned Income Tax credit started by Reagan [I didn’t have an answer]. Indicated that she was tithing and although it hurts at times, ‘what I give away always comes back to me.’ Felt that, ‘trickle down just doesn’t work.’ She personally opposes abortion [and gay marriage] but wonders why that should dictate her vote when Republicans have been ineffective in preventing abortions. ‘Every year there are more abortions, I am going to vote based on other issues.’ She was worried about the turnout, especially with young people, who she felt mostly registered because they were tied to giveaways.

5946 NW 12 AVE: Precinct 511 – JORDAN GROVE BAPT CHURCH – Met 3 folks not from the area [two from San Francisco], but classic campaign volunteers. People who care enough to go into the heart of Liberty City to encourage others to vote:

  • Maya – ‘A change is needed in the culture. Give different kinds of people a chance.’ Obama’s well run campaign seems like a good omen for how he would handle his executive duties. One regret is that he backed out of the public financing.
  • Carolyn – ‘It will be nice to be able to listen to an intelligent and articulate president who can present the US in such a positive light.’
  • Doug – ‘Glad to see the Karl Rove era of divisiveness defeated.’ Also glad that the positive campaign prevailed over the campaign which attacked. Feels Obama has a chance to unite the country.

6304 NW 14 AVE: Precinct 508 – LIBERTY SQUARE COMM CENTER – Again a festive atmosphere and one very aggressive campaign official who really needed to know who I was:

  • Arthur – Worked in the construction areas and was very concerned about the economy. Wondered what jobs would be available if they keep going overseas. ‘Our problems did not happen overnight and they won’t be resolved overnight.’

I expected to find a lot of people very happy about an African-American being elected. No one talked that way, despite my egging them on in that area. I suspect those feelings are there, but they rather not go there with a stranger with a clipboard. I learned that real people worry deeply about issues which are sometimes easy to dismiss as just ‘talking points’ by someone like me. This was a great experience.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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1 Response to My blog penance in Liberty City on Election Day

  1. Carol says:

    We (Carol & Heidi) enjoyed reading your blog and speaking with you yesterday. We commend you for doing something that many would be too afraid to do. You must know that all of us at Precinct 521 and Tacolcy Property Management Corporation are overwhelmed with JOY about Obama's victory (or should I say the American peoples victory)! We were also honored by John McCain's comments to the nation. We believe that McCain is an honorable man and we believe that he will play a great part in unifying this country. There is a lot of work to be done and as Christian's we a responsibility to pray for all our leaders; democrats, republicans, and other parties. We enjoyed our brief conversation on election day and may God Bless You and Your Family!

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