Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Does this brain still work?

I have coped with the past several anxious weeks by never slowing down long enough to really let my emotions catch up with me.

Pennsylvania was, until last night, the reddest of the blue states, and I live in the bluest part of it. Really, even in my strongly Democratic city, my neighborhood votes way to the left in primaries. I am used to electoral disappointment. I expect it.

When there was talk in the last week or two that Pennsylvania might still be in play after all, that without it McCain really had no shot at the electoral college, this election felt like Philadelphia against John McCain. My northeastern, largely African-American, heavily Democratic, underfunded, insurance-assaulted, university-dominated city, standing against the cynicism, vote manipulation, lies and disdain of a party that had no idea what kind of groundswell they were facing. Community organizers, my ass.

But I was worried. I was still really crazy worried that I hadn't done enough.

I know I have a lot of magical thinking about my participation in politics. I canvassed for nuclear disarmament the summers of 1988 and 1989, and you know that was why the Soviet bloc crumbled and the Berlin wall fell. In 1994 I failed to switch my registration to Pennsylvania in time and didn't bother with the absentee ballot in DC, and the Republicans swept both houses.

But what else can you expect from a lesbian born and raised in a disenfranchised city, within a mile of the Capitol? I expect to be left out and powerless, and I expect that my feet moving on the treadmill of the political process is the only thing that keeps this country from moving backwards faster. I think a lot of lefties in this country feel that way, though, and there are a lot of lefties in my neighborhood.

When they called Pennsylvania last night, I shrieked loud enough to make A. think I was hurt. When they called Pennsylvania, I finally believed Obama would win. Not just could, but would. This morning, Z. and I were ready to go more than an hour before we had to be anywhere, and I wanted to celebrate, so we did something we've never done before and went to the cafe for breakfast. Everyone there was saying "We did it!" No one said "He won." I started asking, and my neighbors had all been out knocking on doors and making calls.

We did it. We did. Philadelphia beat John McCain. Our side won.

But not in California, except, well, I haven't been as upset about Prop 8 as other queer folk I've talked to today. I guess the polls were running against it so strongly that I hadn't pinned a whole lot of hope to it, and I live in a state where what happens in California isn't going to affect us much. I also am not at all sure how I feel about civil marriage itself--as a shorthand for equality, hell yes; as a church-state catastrophe, definitely; as a wedge issue, I am pissed off beyond measure. But having spent my entire life outside of legally-sanctioned marriage and having a lot of, um, issues with heteronormativity, I'm not feeling it personally. My marriage doesn't have its basis in civil law. I feel pretty damn married without a slip of paper from the state. I grant you that I absolutely would not feel that detached from the fight if it were happening here, because then I would have done a lot of considering about whether A. and I should and would make it legal, and it would infuriate me to have those considerations rendered moot, but that's sort of where my limitations lie.

I'm actually much more upset about the Arizona measure that restricted state-approved parenthood to married couples. Z. would have one legal parent if she were born in Arizona. My straight friend who adopted as a single mom wouldn't have her daughter. If Pennsylvania hadn't allowed second-parent adoption at the time Z. was born, we would have made sure she was born somewhere that did.

Now I think I'm just rambling, folks. It's late, it's been a long month or two, or four, or twenty-two.

What I want to say before I tumble into sleep is that Prop 8 passed by less than four points. Eight years ago, California defined marriage, by referendum, as being between a man and a woman--that measure passed by 22 points.

From where I stand, The Bad Guys losing 18 points of their 22-point margin in eight years? That's us winning. That's all.


Phantom Scribbler said...

You totally *did* win the election with your canvassing, though. You. Personally. Carrying all of your shy friends on your back. We thank you.

And thanks for the hope, too. I'm still devastated by CA. But I'm heartened by the change in the numbers over the 8 years. And more heartened still by the fact that CT did NOT vote down gay marriage yesterday.

E. said...

Although the Prop. 8 situation was a disappointment, here's something that might cheer you up. From the NY Times website:

"In San Francisco, a measure to name a sewage plant after President George W. Bush and another measure to legalize prostitution were defeated."

I looked up the exact numbers, and, well, apparently 30% of voters wanted to name the sewage plant after Bush, and 42% wanted to legalize prostitution.

Another measure--to make it city policy that San Francisco's U.S. Representative and Senator are not allowed to support any further funding in Iraq except to withdraw troops--passed 60% to 40%.

I love San Francisco.

E. said...

BTW, the San Francisco Chronicle has a database where you can find the financial contributors in every state for and against Prop. 8:

Money speaks. Figure out who is donating, and make sure not to patronize their businesses.

Jody said...

If NC holds for Obama, it will 100% be thanks to the door-knockers and phone-callers and organizers. Damn straight y'all did it.

I can't get past the way that CA voters, hearing the Supreme Court say that people have to be treated equally, turned right around and said, "not those people." But you're right, there were other anti-gay props that were even more offensive in their effects.

I know one couple too many who had serious immigration problems, because they couldn't get married, to feel that marriage equality can be delayed. But that's actually a federal issue, and I know we're still a long battle away from winning that one.

Thank goodness for Canada.

Furrow said...

Philadelphia beat McCain? I thought it was Pittsburg. You know, the Steelers beating the Redskins.

I'm disgusted by the Arkansas adoption ban.

kathy a. said...

only 30% voted to honor bush with a municipal sewage plant?

i'm very disappointed that prop 8 passed. you are right about the numbers improving, and at a fairly rapid clip. but i have a LOT of trouble understanding how a simple majority popular vote can strip a group of civil rights protections.

three lawsuits have already been filed with the cal supremes -- it is unusual to go straight to the top, but i think there is a chance they will decide to hear these cases [instead of sending them down to go through the lower courts] because the issues are of huge importance, and they so recently held that our state consitution protects the right to marry.

Tall Kate said...

I second what Phantom said: you DID do it!! (I have friends here who went to NH on the weekends to go door-to-door there, too, so they get credit, too.)

And I like your take on Prop 8. The change IS coming, thank god.