Point of View

Point of View
and if you wanted to drown you could, but you don’t...~David Whyte

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reporting From Small Town Alaska

No lines at the polls here in Homer, Alaska, just a steady flow of voters.
After voting, I headed toward downtown Homer to check my mail at the post office. I noticed a fairly good-size clump of people in the park right on the corner of Pioneer and Lake. They were waving signs for McCain/Palin and Paul Seaton, a local Republican representative, and there was even one sign for Ted Stevens.
No sign of any Obama supporters, although I knew there were plenty of them with our own Obama headquarters in town, so, on impulse, I headed for headquarters, housed in the old 'Try My Thai' restaurant building. There were two Obama campaign workers there (the rest were at another location getting out the vote) who were kind enough to give me an "Alaskans for Obama" sign.
I headed back to the corner of Pioneer and Lake and, taking the corner opposite the McCain/Palin supporters, I took my place and held up my sign. It felt good to exercise my civil rights in a spontaneous gesture that came from my heart.
There were quite a few children in the McCain/Palin crowd and I was glad to see them there. This is a day they will always remember, especially, I think, because I stood opposite them in support of their candidate's opponent.
There was a lot of traffic for a weekday in November in Homer. People going to vote during their lunch hour, I assume. There were lots of honks and even some engine gunning for the McCain/Palin crowd but, as some drivers noticed me, the one opposer, I began to get big smiles, nods, and thumbs up from some. I also got negative gestures, like thumbs down, shaking of heads, even some angry yells out windows of "Nobama!"
After about an hour, a woman showed up waving two Obama signs and proudly joined me saying, "I saw you out here all by yourself and here I am to help!"
Within the next hour, seven more people had joined us on the Obama side of the street. There was practically a traffic jam for a while - lots and lots of cars driving by and signaling their approval of either side.
Often, when I got a direct smile, thumbs up, wave and honk from an Obama supporter, our eyes met and what I read there was hope. Alaska is a Republican state and the electoral vote will go to McCain/Palin. The many Alaskans proud of their governor's nomination for vice-president makes the already Republican majority here even more fervently for McCain.
So it seemed to me that the Obama supporters driving by that cheered my small group on, were heartened to see us there exercising our civil rights on this crisp November day.
Eventually, the McCain/Palin supporters dwindled until there were none. The last of them, a woman with the group of children that I suspect were homeschoolers, stopped and shook my hand.
"I appreciate that you came out in support of your candidate." she told me. "This is good for my children to see."
"Thank you," I said. "Your children are never going to forget this, are they?"
We both smiled genuine smiles at each other and, as she drove off in her van with the kids yelling, "Don't be insane! Vote for McCain!" out the windows, a lone figure took their place across the street.
Whereas I had been alone facing the twenty or thirty Republican supporters several hours earlier, he now stood opposite me and my ragtag group of Obama sign holders with his own sign.
It read, "We're All One."
Yes. And it's time for Americans to finally figure that out.


Nicole said...

This is a great post. I love your observations, your spunk, and your overall message. Well done!

Andrew Shields said...

Thanks for the excellent report -- and for your courage to go out there alone!