Entries tagged "Obama"

Redemption at the Polls: Obama’s 2012 re-election, 80s Identity Politics and the Tipping Point



A lot of geek prayers were answered recently through geek statistical analysis by Nate Silver. He accurately predicted almost all the US election results and was dismissed for it by the Right, for his bewitching use of math because “Nobody knows anything.”

Nate Silver is a statistician taking on the job done before by pundits and experts who have been around the game a long time. He is quiet and nerdy and he bested them all. It’s exactly the story told in Moneyball (which is a great movie and an amazing book by Michael Lewis).

I was lucky to get a nerdy tour of Obama’s campaign headquarters when I was speaking at WebVisions in Chicago in October. (Many thanks to them for the tour and the above pic). Some of the people in our group who worked in UX (or user experience design) knew the Obama campaign’s head of UX. Obama’s HQ was full of old computer monitors propped on cardboard boxes for ergonomic help. There were huge numbers of young people editing video, designing sites, coding, making calls and designing all manner of posters which were all center justified and beautifully fonted (yes I made that word up and I like it). The posters and youthful environment felt like a Pride Parade organized by McSweeney’s smushed with a tech start up: Asian American Pacific Islanders for Obama, African Americans for Obama, LGBT Americans for Obama and so on.

It was a room full of true believers who were working their asses off. It reminded me of my brother who is an intense campaigner (he helped Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May get elected and now runs Change.org campaigns in Canada) and it reminded me of myself in college and law school when I organized and worked fervently on feminist and progressive causes. I attended a rally for Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition” back in the 80s when he ran for the Democratic nomination and it was dismissed as a political stunt and far-off, utopianism among naive students and wacko liberals. And it was easy to dismiss. The rally wasn’t very big, the speeches weren’t well-organized or confident and the most notable moment was one of my few out classmates throwing her bra onstage for the Indigo Girls. It was 1988. All of these different groups working together? They couldn’t stop arguing and all they wanted to do was compare their pain and oppression. A bunch of whiners.

Fast forward 24 years to last Tuesday and I’m at my nerd friends with a bunch of nerdy people of various races and sexualities and genders, many of whom work at tech start-ups and we’re taking photographs with our pocket computers of the High Definition television set of the results of incredibly well-organized, disciplined, grass roots campaign which had as its basic premise the reality that enough of us from all the hyphenated groups would matter and are of voting age that you could have enough votes to re-elect a Black and White President who supports the right to equal marriage.

And all 4 states with votes on gay marriage supported marriage equality.

And the first openly gay senator was elected. And the first Asian American woman senator.

And every politician who made insane comments about rape was defeated.

And the demographics show that the tipping point has happened. The electorate has moved toward amore diverse population and inclusive policies.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for the wake up call about the human cost of the “trickle down” economics and the playing to the religious right since Reagan, since I was a university student at Yale. That’s when identity politics was being mocked as official whining and it launched the career of many a disdainful, pithy writer (Katie Roiphe, Camille Paglia, Dinesh D’Souza I’m looking at you). And yeah the worst part of identity politics was and is the idea that feeling aggrieved is what you should lead with instead of what motivates you to lead. It took me many years to find that the theory you have about the world is just a feeling you have about your parents.

The best part of political correctness is the idea of consideration and respect for others who are different than you. The best part of identity politics is the notion that the reality of your lived experience informs your understanding of public needs and effective solutions.

And to have the best from these things combined with incredibly nerdy attention to detail and excitement about connecting with people is to re-elect Barak Obama.

To focus not only on what hurts, but to feel and acknowledge what hurts and then focussing on what *can* be done. This inspires me.

America needs gay people; my anti-DOMA rally speech

This was the first time I’ve addressed a rally. It was a thrill to stand where Harvey Milk stood and speak some truth to people. Is your dignity up to any one else?

Obama picks Rick Warren (Yes on 8) for inauguration

Obama is clearly making as many symbolic efforts of inclusion as he can to govern from the center. Picking an evangelical preacher like Warren is part of that.

I find Warren’s support of Prop 8 cowardly and morally reprehensible.

And, like many queers, I am tired of being the one who has to “be bigger.” We know what it is to put up with ignorance and self-censorship to be “part of the family.”

But here’s the problem we face: we want a democracy that recognizes each of us as equals under the law. We say we want all difference acknowledged. We are not fundamentalists. This means we are always going to be stuck “being the bigger person” when it comes to dealing the evangelical and fundamentalist world within the democratic process.

If we really believe there is room in our democracy for us and them to both exist and be treated with dignity and be different, then our leverage comes from showing up without censorship. We can’t make it an “us or them” game and then claim our goal is democratic inclusion. Not because of how we feel about the immoral politics and “theology” of evangelicals like Rick Warren, but because of our own integrity. Because of what we stand for. We have to find as many ways as possible to make clear that they are wrong. To make our lives, our relationships, our marriages-illicit as they are now- as visible as possible.
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Canadians Gone Wild: My brother explains why Canada isn't sure who it's leader is right now

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper was re-elected with a minority government about a month ago. But he might lose his job any day now. He’s managed, like George W Bush, to unite everyone else against him. At least that’s my understanding after my brother explained it to me. Canada’s politics has started to sound like a dramatic nerd reality show, with a special guest role starring President-elect Obama. The whole thing is crazy, which is why I was about the 8th person to ask my political wonk brother to explain it all to me in one of Canada’s two official languages. I’m posting the answer so that other confused Canadians and bemused onlookers can get benefit. This way, Jordy doesn’t have to explain it again.

Heads up for non-Canadians: In Canada the Liberals are the name of a political party and the Conservatives believe in national health care.

Here’s the button-down versionwith reporting and stuff from Canada’s best paper.

New York, NY – 10/27/08


The election as hockey game

Mini Hockey Rink, originally uploaded by Paul Nicholson.

“Everybody says that / hell’s the hippest way to go / I don’t think so…”

I listened to Joni Mitchell at 6:30 on the phone line this morning and was immediately back in Toronto in gray days and the sharpening smell of fall. I was about to be part of a discussion on CBC radio about the US and Canadian elections, a conversation that only Canadians would have.

I felt myself move to a different place inside as I listened to Joni, a place that was cold and spacious and smelled of ice. Early mornings in Canada are rink times. And yes, in the rink, the ice-not just the locker room-has a smell.

All of this transpired in seconds and then I was in a cordial conversation with 4 infinitely reasonable and thoughtful people. One of the players, Jerry, went to the RNC and he compared the experience to a hockey arena. He acknowledged both how electric and exciting it was to be there when the new American “hockey mom” came in and how it didn’t play well on television.

Immediately I felt the election itself as hockey game. “Drill baby drill” the crowd’s chant when the team was breaking out into an offense rush. The back and forth of the candidates we’ve been sucked into as they’ve dropped their gloves and now try to pull each others shirts over their heads.

Yes the Republicans have some scrappy fighters. I’m not sure if they can win that way like the “Broad Street Bullies” who also had all kinds of heart, playing skill and phenomenal goaltending.

I just know from playing over the years that the fights are not the game. I did lead my team in penalty minutes at one time and found out the meaning of the cliche “you can’t score from the box.” The penalties came from frustration, and then they caused me more frustration. And when you act out of frustration, your not scoring or playmaking which is what is the most fun.

I’m hoping, like I said in the interview, that Obama plays his game and scores more goals, even if he can’t brawl.

And I’m wishing even more, after my enjoyable conversation which included a Canadian conservative, that Americans would pick up a little Canadian tradition and play more hockey.

Canucks don’t just watch hockey. They play. Often all their lives. With people who vote like them and with those who don’t. Go play. If there are fights that come up, have em. But leave em in the rink.

Is Obama disappointing you?

Nice letter Clarinda.

One of the main things that frustrated those I know who support Hillary, is the idea that Obama is somehow purer and not going to shift his positions to suit the electorate. I did and still do support Obama but am not as hurt as you Clarinda, Maybe that’s only because I stayed somewhat cynical. I like all the positive things you eloquently noted and hoped he’d be better than what Hillary (and the past administration has been).

But it seems to me that Obama is just as focussed as winning no matter what as Hillary was/is. He will take the chance that the disappointment you and others feel as he becomes less obviously pure as he has to take more positions and actions will not stop our voting for him.

I’ve seen him do a number of things that indicate
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Sex and the Presidency

Some recent stand-up fun. Thanks to Nato Green for having me at Laughing Liberally, Kurt Weitzmann and Will Durst.

The blogging equivalent of the wave

In looking at the Obama blog I’m noticing people doing a blogwave, basically posting one letter and then trusting the next person to spell the next letter and so on. Usually Yes We Can!

Has anyone seen this before on a blog? It’s a really interesting method of trust and connection through fun + vulnerability in a digital space.How’s that for analyzing the crap out of something fun. It’s like analyzing a joke, I know. 

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