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Kalyani saw a poster of Barack Obama the other day and called out "Oooh look, there's Bobby Bana!" Soon she had turned it into Bobby Banana and the name has stuck. To her great delight we all piled in a hire car and drove to Philadelphia over the weekend to go help Bobby Banana.
So there we were, knocking on doors in Germantown, Kalyani asking for another 'sticky of Bobby Banana' (a button that she kept trying to pull out of her shirt as soon as I fastened it) and Marley feeling very important as he barrelled down the pavement as fast as his stubby little legs could carry him. The weather was warm and the reception was even warmer.
I started the day feeling nervous because I didn't like the idea of trying to convince anyone to vote one way or the other but as it turned out our job was simply to help people with the logistics of getting out to vote. The streets we walked were alive with people, everyone seemed to know their neighbours, the music was blaring and each and every person we spoke to was, without exception, a staunch Obama supporter.
If this is what it is like on the weekend, I thought, I would love to be here on election day. These voters were not disengaged. A lot of them had registered just for this election, for many it was the second time they would ever be voting (the first time was for the Primaries) and any attempt at fear mongering slid noiselessly off their collective backs as they saw, for the first time in their lives, a choice in front of them. A real choice. The excitement was palpable.
I left my husband to it as the day wore on and tried to find somewhere to buy lunch for Marley and Kalyani. On each street corner was a shop, but they were all closed and barred, some of them burnt out or boarded up. Words like socialism and income redistribution don't strike terror into the hearts of people who are working two jobs and are still unable to make ends meet. A little income redistribution can only be a good thing if you can't pay the rent on time. Finally I found a small corner store that sold bread rolls and, appropriately, bananas. The kids fueled up, rested in the stroller for a while and then resumed their important task of exploring the front yard of each house we approached.
While Marley slept on the drive home, Kalyani asked why we weren't helping Bobby Banana anymore. Couldn't we go back and do it again? She decided she didn't like our street and didn't want to go home and for a three year old a neighbourhood full of kids and music and people calling out to her as they passed her must have seemed so much more interesting than our quiet street where we are lucky to see the 80 year old woman who lives a few houses up when we go out.
But Kalyani is not partisan. She is equally thrilled to hear the name John McCain. And to her, now, an election means something fun, sociable and interesting. There are reports of attempts to scare voters away from the polls and it is a shame because over the weekend we saw the way it could be. A population engaged, in dialogue with each other and ready to embrace a new beginning. Enthusiasm and confidence are infectious and I hope that mood is what wins out on the day, whoever walks away with the coveted title of President.
Posted on November 03, 2008 - by
Reader Feedback -
by Jeff Smith @ 11/03/08, 04:06:09 PM
not sure how coveted that position is
by Tanya @ 11/05/08, 12:52:43 AM
Yes I must admit when McCain lost the election tonight I wondered if it was a lucky break for him.