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November 10, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 10, 2004

OPINION

+ 420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI48109
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EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
The purpose
of a political party is
to win elections, and
we're not doing that."
- Democratic strategist James
Carville, commenting on the results
of the recent election, as reported
yesterday by The Washington Post.

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Memoirs of a pollwatcher
ELLIOTT MALLEN JRRATK-ONAL ExU BERANCE

s a bright-eyed
idealist overflow-
ing with the demo-
cratic spirit, I was outraged
when Michigan Rep. John
Poppageorge (R-Troy) pro-
claimed the need to "sup-
press the Detroit vote" in
order to hand Michigan to
President Bush. I told my
professors that I'd be absent
on Tuesday, deciding that my time would be bet-
ter spent ensuring Detroiters have the right to vote
than struggling to stay awake in my political sci
ence lecture. When one tried to assign extra work,
I told him I'd be too busy defending democracy,
an excuse to which there is no adequate response.
I rose at four in the morning, donned a black
shirt claiming that You Have the Right to Vote,
grabbed some flyers outlining the rights every
voter has in Michigan, and struck out for Detroit
with 200 other university students.
I reached my polling location - Cooley High
School - about an hour and half after the polls
opened. The lines were already stretching out
the doors, the workers had already run out of "I
voted" stickers and the challengers were already
there. There was a challenger from the Republi-
can Party and (to my surprise) one from the Dem-
ocratic Party as well. My partner and I quickly
made friends with both of them. Or, more accu-
rately, they acted excruciatingly cordial to both
of us, giving us no option but to befriend them. I
was half expecting to have rocks (or at least some
sharp invective) hurled at me from these people,
so I didn't know how to react to their hearty hand-
shakes and painfully chipper voices. This was

going to be more awkward than I'd planned.
The Republican challenger spent most of his
time stalking around in an imposing manner,
looming over voters and scrawling cryptic notes
on a legal pad. I'd often see him tuck the tag iden-
tifying him as a Republican challenger into his
shirt, but he always made sure to pull it back out
when he saw me. He clearly felt extremely out
of place as the only balding, middle-aged white
man in the predominantly black Detroit high
school. Once or twice I'd catch him speaking
with a voter (which is illegal, by the way), and
when I tried to get close enough to decipher what
he was saying, he'd revert back to ultra-friendly
mode. It felt strange making small talk about
the weather and Michigan's latest victory over
State with the man I was told was a dire threat to
American democracy.
The two of us often discussed the length of the
lines. As the wait stretched from an hour and a
half to two hours to three hours, I noticed with
horror as several potential voters starting throwing
up their hands in disgust and walking out the door.
My Republican friend adoringly mused, "God
bless the system, this is democracy at its best." I
couldn't tell if he honestly believed what he was
saying or if he was trying to rile me up. Seeing as
my shirt had the letters NAACP printed promi-
nently above "You have the right to vote," he had
no doubts as to which side I was rooting for.
My new friend and his associates in the Repub-
lican Party didn't want me there. After all, it was
my job to make sure he showed his credentials as
a challenger so that voters didn't mistake him for
a genuine election worker. I was there to makes
sure he didn't talk to voters, preventing him from
potentially spreading lies about their rights. The

Detroit Free Press reported after the election
that the GOP "complained that voter protec-
tion groups, sponsored by the NAACP and oth-
ers, were helping to make sure voters were able
to cast ballots." This is a scathing accusation if
I've ever heard one - only the most treasonous
among us would dare ensure that voters are able
to cast ballots.
The vibe at the polling place made it easy to
see just why the Republicans were so bent on
disenfranchising Detroiters. Upon asking people
leaving the building if they were able to vote, they
often answered along the lines of "of course I
did, we need to get that man out of office!" Sev-
eral asked where they could get a shirt like mine.
While people intent on swaying voters to their
varying causes were required to stand at least
100 feet from the door, the students in the high
school had no such limitations. I heard constant
calls to "vote no on Bush!" (which I'll have to
assume means voting for Kerry) from high school
kids scurrying among the long lines of voters, and
even the occasional demand to queued voters to
"go back home if you're gonna vote for Bush."
Sure enough, only 30 percent of the voters in
Wayne County voted for Bush.
Despite the Republican Party's best efforts,
voter turnout for Detroit increased from 51 per-
cent in the 2000 presidential election to more
than 75 percent this year. Seeing as a 3-percent
increase is considered impressive, this is nothing
short of astounding. With a little luck this trend
will continue, making the job of challengers more
challenging in the elections to come.
Mallen can be reached
at emmallen@umich.edu.

I

I

A fight for the core
SUHAEL MOMIN AN ALTERNATIVE SPIN
his election was Nonetheless, conservatives have taken this elec- the Age of Reason, that theorists first proposed
not a blowout by tion and used it as evidence that their ideology is that humanity possesses inherent freedoms, that
conservatives, and ultimately what Americans want, evidence to the individuals have the right to self determination
it was not a fatal defeat for contrary notwithstanding. and that religion should not mix with govern-
liberals. Despite liberal At the national level, President Bush's 3-per- ment. These principles spread through Europe
dejection and conservative cent margin of victory does not qualify, under as well as across the Atlantic, and they can be
jubilation, the so-called any circumstances, as a resounding mandate by found in seminal American documents and in
"conservative mandate" has the people. Even Democratic losses in the U.S. the words of our founding fathers. The Decla-
not materialized. In many Senate were not due to ideological shifts among ration reads that, "We hold these truths to be
ways, campaign 2004 was voters. When given the choice between conserva- self-evident, that all men are created equal,
another battle in the ongoing war to mold and tive Democrats and Republicans, Southern voters that they are endowed by their Creator with
define the American sociopolitical identity. While decided to replace five retiring Democratic sena- certain unalienable rights, that among these
the Republicans might have carried the day, they tors with Republicans. Ideology in the South did are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
did not win in the larger conflict. America's soul not shift, party affiliation did. The U.S. House of In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson
- the fundamental values and principles which Representatives remains essentially unchanged. stated, "It is proper you should understand what
guide this nation - is still up for grabs. While the GOP claimed seven Democratic seats, I deem the essential principles of our Govern-
The election demonstrated that there are stark- five were in Texas, where House Majority Leader ment ... Equal and exact justice to all men, of
ly contrasting visions of future America. The gov- Tom DeLay redrew Congressional districts with whatever state or persuasion, religious or politi-
erning party advocates a much more traditionalist one purpose: to oust Democrats. The so-called cal ..." The Constitution, our most basic legal
position: heterosexual, monogamous, single-spe- "conservative mandate" is, in reality, a very thin document, aims to, among other things, "secure
cies marriage and governance characterized by popular majority. the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves, and our
the melding of absolute truths, religion and pol- Those who oppose the conservative vision posterity."
icy. From the other side of the spectrum, a focus for America must realize that they're not an In the past, attempts to obscure these founding
on secularism, the assumption of tolerance as a outspoken minority: 49 percent - almost half values have failed. Racial discrimination was once
superlative goal and an emphasis on individual, - of voters cast ballots for the liberal presiden- not only supported, it was considered a vital part
not group, morality. tial candidate. Furthermore, the conservative of society. However, through war, the courts and
Faced with this dichotomy, the nation is caught social agenda upon which this election hinged public action, this nation returned to its Enlight-
without a clear preference. The majority of is at best a temporary phenomenon. While con- enment ideals. The deep social schisms we see
Americans oppose gay marriage, but most are not servatives claim to be standing for traditional today between red America and blue America are
willing to pass a constitutional ban on it. Many morality and traditional values, their actions indicative of the ongoing conflict over the Ameri-
Americans who would not allow an abortion have shown a contempt for the American tra- can identity. The choice is clear: traditionalism or
within their family are, at the same time, unwill- dition and fundamental principles upon which Americanism? Coming off this election, those
ing to pass a law banning the practice. This inde- this nation rests. If history is any guide, the con- who stand for the liberal foundation of this
cision is reflected in our law. Popular positions servative social agenda to define marriage will nation must not be discouraged; the war over
are those that provide no clear direction: Give meet a fruitless fate. American identity is still raging.
gay couples the rights of marriage, just don't call This nation has a political tradition that is
their union "marriage;" allow stem-cell research heavily influenced by the intellectual beliefs of Momin can be reached
on existing cell lines, just don't make new ones. the Enlightenment. It was during this period, at smomin@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

r,

Democrats need to clean
up election materials
TO THE DAILY:
After reading Steve Cotner's column titled
When is a good time to start living? (11/09/04), I
stepped outside and began to walk towards cam-
pus from my house on South Division Street. I
really didn't give his article a second thought
until I passed several light posts between South
Quad and West Quad. After seeing Kerry/
Edwards stickers placed on each light, Cotner's
comments about the wooden trunk on State
and Washington Streets came to mind. He
describes how the trunk has been punished by
staples driven in by radical groups (primarily

ers are more charismatic and more friendly, the
Left will be able to mobilize more support for its
causes. I agree with him on this point, because as
a conservative, I believe the Left is out of touch
with mainstream America and alienates most
citizens through its intellectual righteousness. I
also believe people are turned off by the Left's
disrespect for public property. Maybe if the lib-
erals become more civil in the way they get their
messages out, people will listen!
With this said, I hope the leaders of the College
Democrats and radical leftist groups start clean-
ing up the campus they have defaced for so long. If
they want the respect of moderates and conserva-
tives, they should start off by showing some respect
for University property. I don't like giving advice
that may improve the liberal cause, but I just can't

come of the election and the passage of ballot
measures banning gay marriage have sparked
heated debate. What bothers me the most
are the terms that people are using to justify
their choices. "Moral values" and "definition
of marriage" are particularly troublesome for
me. The unspoken meaning of these terms has
been used to advance a conservative agenda,
yet their ambiguity can be exploited in their
own defense. Hopefully I don't need to address
the fact that moral values really just means
religious values; that one is pretty straightfor-
ward. I see no problem with anyone who con-
siders religion an important part of his life. I
would just hope that he doesn't disguise it when
he votes accordingly. Similarly, don't try and
hide your fear of gay sex behind elitist rhetoric.

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