Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Feel-good election day story

Today is a state holiday in Hawaii. Its day-off status isn't that important to me because I voted absentee ballot — in California — and I only have one class on Tuesday anyway. But it does means you can park almost anywhere.

Instead of sifting through the news of Jerry Brown's future Jeopardy™ question status as simultaneously modern-day California's youngest and oldest ever elected governor, Prop 19 marijuana legalization's likely defeat, the worst thumping the Democrats have gotten in the House sine 1948 while simultaneously holding onto the Senate (with Harry Reid still eligible to be the Majority Leader), the nail-biter between Colleen Hanabusa and Charles Djou here in Hawaii-1, or any of that, I thought I'd present a touching story of a first-time voter.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Reginalda Rodriguez filled out her ballot with painstaking care, using her practice booklet as a guide -- no on Prop. 19, Jerry Brown for governor, and on through every measure and candidate.

It was the first time the 87-year-old great-grandmother of 11 had voted in the United States. She lived the first 65 years of her life in El Salvador. In 1989, she came to live with her son in Los Angeles to escape the civil war in her country. She worked as a nanny until the age of 83.

In May 2008, she finally became a U.S. citizen. When Rodriguez arrived at the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center polling place Tuesday afternoon, the workers were unable to find her name on the rolls.

Undiscouraged, she cast her provisional ballot. On the way out, she hugged the workers or shook their hands. "I feel very satisfied, because I have so much esteem for this country," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I love this country very much."

There was no single proposition or race that drew her. Rodriguez said she simply wanted to vote in the country where she is now a citizen.
[sniff] No matter where you stand on so-called "multi-culturalism" or how you choose to define it, America needs more immigrants to be like Ms Rodriguez, at least in this regard. Here's hoping for many more elections in your future, ma'am.

As for those other topics, I'll have a post-election postmortem later this week. For now, I'll say that House Democrats (and a few Senate Democrats) sacrificed their careers for a very good cause, something that will be increasingly clear long after you would have retired even if you had stayed in office. In the meantime, the Dems should see this as an opportunity to seek a new leader in the House that is less of a lightning rod and more of a hands-across-the-aisle kinda person.

Perhaps consider doing the same thing in the Senate, even if Harry Reid has retained his seat (and by a bigger margin than polls had predicted since, um, they had predicted he'd lose by about three instead of winning by five points).

This is a chance for Obama to reach out and try to do some things that show he can be bipartisan, like on passing the KORUS FTA with those six or so extra Republican Senators.

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