Friday, February 8, 2008
impressions from the sidelines
no, i'm not going to write about football. i know virtually nothing about it despite my repeated viewings of varsity blues. yeah, i guess it's very stereotypically female, but i tend to blame it more on my canadian upbringing than anything else. moving to the deep south at 16 didn't do much to endear me to football either, i guess.
i did some sort of a research project in high school on apartheid in south africa. i didn't have a chance to visit the country and i don't profess to know much about the country's history beyond 1994 or so, but the project sparked at least a lingering curiosity in south african politics. the photo above is of a line at a polling station in south africa, which may or may not be from the first election in the post-apartheid era. when i saw that for the first time, a teeny corner of my cynical, dark heart melted. a little. let's not go overboard here.
anyway, it was really tough to not be able to vote in the 2004 elections, especially while living in a swing state. that same pain is somewhat deeper and darker this time around, as it is accompanied by an acute sense of despair and urgency. i doubt it'll compel me to move back to canada or something dramatic like that, but i'm bracing for a significant period of mourning.
yeah, i admit it: i think walnuts will be president. are we ready for a drug-addled ice queen as first lady? at first i thought, man that woman's had a ton of plastic surgery. then i realized that maybe she just looks like that. look at her daughter!
i volunteered as an exit pollster for a few hours in palisades park, NJ, on super tuesday. being affiliated with a non-partisan organization and not being able to vote really underscored my status as an outsider. the purpose the polls was to document any discrimination against asian-american voters and to determine whether we could lobby on behalf of korean-americans for broader usage of translated ballots and interpreters. i was pleasantly surprised at how eager most voters were to answer our questions. i never ever pay attention to surveyors and try to ignore them at all costs, so this reception was unexpected. moreover, it contradicted my stereotypes of my own people (as politically apathetic, despite my own parents' fervent interest in politics). yeah, i admit it: i was a little bit jealous of these (mostly old) voters. all these months of heated debates, excel spreadsheet primary pools and overzealous discussions and i was just a bystander on the day that counted. (or maybe not considering the myriad voting issues).
among the smattering of korean-american voters i surveyed there were no obama supporters, even though they were heavily in favor of the democrats. as one lady muttered to me (roughly translated), "david dinkins was so terrible to koreans when he was mayor...and obama is so young and inexperienced...we just have to get out of this war..." yes, david dinkins! apparently the last black politician of note in the tri-state area. as my friend at work retorted, "hmm, i can't vote for hillary because margaret thatcher sucked"? cristina kirchner is a more apt analogy, but point made.
after all this i have to admit that i'm pretty evenly split between the two frontrunners. maybe i give a slight edge to obama, but maybe not after that retarded video whose smugness still makes me seethe.
on a more uplifting and somewhat personal note, my sister was sworn in as a US citizen today and called to let me know. yeah i know, which sister. okay fine, one of my sisters. before i could even get the question out she said, "now i can finally register to vote!"