This weekend, I sat outside my local library with voter registration forms. I did not approach people and ask them to register. I had a small sign with the words "Register To Vote" on it. It also had an "Obama '08" statement at the bottom. On Saturday, a very nice woman who was being paid by the Republican Party chatted with me while we greeted the people who came by. I registered 4 people and she registered none. Sunday, a very talkative man, being paid by the Republican Party, chatted at me for 2 hours straight as we greeted people. In the 2 hours I was there, I registered 4 people and he registered 1.
Both of the Republican workers were very nice and both were surprised I wasn't being paid. I just wanted to make sure people registered. If the registration stats from my very small, unofficial sample, are correct, Obama will win in a landslide. But then again, maybe Republicans are just so committed, they've all already registered. We'll find out soon!
The most poignant moment for me was when a very distinguished looking African-American man stopped and asked me for a form. He sat down and filled out the paperwork while my Republican buddy and I chatted (or while R chatted and I listened). When the registeree handed me the completed form, he said, "I am almost 80 years old and this will be my first time voting." I replied, "Congratulations," as I shook his hand. Then he said, "I still have the hole in my head where the police hit me the first time I tried to register." I felt like crying but I retained my composure as I shook his hand again and he continued into the library.
It wasn't that long ago when a young black man could be beaten for trying to vote. Today the son of an African man can run for president. I want to say we've come a long way. Instead, I'm haunted by the vision of American police beating American citizens who wanted to vote.