Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: I believe in miracles

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  • Carol Green,

    The thing that I pick up from your post is that even after 13 years of living in the US, playing taxes (I assume) and generally participating in day-to-day life you aren't allowed to vote without being a citizen.
    I am eternally grateful to NZ as my adopted country that they they allowed me to participate in the democratic process as soon as I was committed enough to become a resident.
    My mother country (The UK) didn't allow me to vote once I was no longer ordinarily resident. Which makes sense when you think about it.
    Do you think that should change? How on earth would ordinary folk go about that over there? (Over here it would be easy, surely, you'd just add Helen Clark as one of your Facebook friends)...

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    The thing that I pick up from your post is that even after 13 years of living in the US, playing taxes (I assume) and generally participating in day-to-day life you aren't allowed to vote without being a citizen.

    Yep. I'm a permanent resident, with a green card (which was delayed for four years after 9/11 -- when they finally catch Osama bin Laden, he owes us several thousand in lawyers' fees to keep the application in the system, dammit!). I can work, pay taxes, teach American kids to think, but until I apply for and get full citizenship, I can't vote. Not even in local elections.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Three sentences. That's how long I lasted before tearing up. Thank you, Jolisa.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Do you think that should change?

    Well, "no taxation without representation" was the rallying cry of the War of Independence, so you'd think they'd have followed that through! I'd love to have voted this time, I really would. And the longer I stay in one place after years of being a nomadic student, the more I want a say in how the city I live in is run. It's weird to know the people in charge and yet not be able to support them (or kick them out).

    How on earth would ordinary folk go about that over there?

    I'm not sure, although it's happening in different places at different levels; here's one example.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Oh, it's pass the tissues all the time here. Just walking into my kid's classroom and looking at the faces of kids who now know they have an equal opportunity to the top job in the country... so great.

    If you need more, Emma, this is doing the rounds:

    Rosa Parks sat in 1955. Martin Luther King walked in 1963. Barack Obama ran in 2008. That our children might fly.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Well.... the franchise needs to be limited in some way. The US and Australia limit it by citizenship, NZ by residency and / or citizenship linked to occasional visits to the homeland.

    I'm guessing the thinking is that once you have made a sufficient commitment to a country to become a citizen, then you get to vote.

    A beautiful piece of writing, Jolisa - thank you.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I lived in the US for 20 years - didn't get to vote anywhere on the planet in that time

    This time of year I felt like going down to the Bay and dip a teabag in

    You can't vote in NZ once you've been out of the country for 3 years - these days apparently they let you vote of you come to visit every 3 years but back then that's not what the local NZ consulate would say (and then they shut it down so I never got the message that it had changed)

    In some states I believe non citizens can vote in some local body elections (school board, dog catcher, ....)

    I never took US citizenship, couldn't get past the hoops one had to get through renouncing ones NZ citizenship but knowing full well that it had no effect, and knowing that the Americans knew that too - it all seemed quite hypocritical .... now I'm screwed since I can't access 20 years of SS payments unless I move back

    This year I do get to vote - and I will! in some weird ass-backwards symmetry to make up for my not being able to vote anywhere for 20 years my wife gets to vote in both countries

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    A couple of other thoughts to add:

    My girls have grown up knowing that the PM can be female because goddamit, the PM, as long as they have been alive, has been female. Think of the generation who will grow up knowing that the President of the US can be black, because, d'oh, he <i>is</i> black. That's very powerful.

    My dad said that the last time he remembered this sense of hope was when JFK, the first Catholic president, was elected in 1963.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    McCain's concession speech was a good start, a decent if belated attempt to soothe his riled-up base and forestall a rash of cross-burnings.

    I can't help but worry about the backlash. A large proportion of the 49% are probably feeling pretty aggrieved. When you factor in that almost one quarter of previous presidents have had attempts (successful or otherwise) on their lives, it gives me serious jitters.

    Having said that, I think Obama's approach to them was brilliant.

    I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too

    That last sentence, if you read it in an authoritarian way, is brilliant. I read it as: "You live in this nation, you obey the laws, you acknowledge the process, so you *will* respect my authority!!"

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    And even if we can't vote, permanent residents (ie green card holders) can give money to candidates for Federal office. A sort of voluntary self-taxation, to go with the compulsory kind.

    I must admit, the taxation without representation thing irritates me a little (usually around April 15). On the other hand, I get a good deal more from the US government in grant money than I could ever pay in taxes, so it is probably churlish to complain too vociferously, even if I can't spend that money on myself.

    And, if we do become citizens, we can vote in the next one, and then for Hillary in 2016....

    http://www.publicaddress.net/default,1798.sm#post1798

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    and as my wife pointed out yesterday that 49% are "53 million rednecks with guns" .... a little bit of a generalisation

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    The misogyny of the US electorate and media just has to seen to be believed
    Hilary, if she had made President (that would have been a really close race) would have had a barrage to face including the taint of her husband
    And then there has been the focus on Sarah Palin, remind me who is the VP elect, have we heard a word on him and his voting record/spend on clothes etc etc

    I have to say I have admired the grace and dignity shown by both presidental candidates in their speeches
    It will be interesting to see if there is as much grace in NZ this coming week

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    The female president thing to me is not about the gender, it's about the particular female that was available. I'm not sure I'd prefer Mccain over Clinton, but it would be close. Sure, Hilary is smarter than Sarah Palin and has more experience, but she just comes across as someone to whom no compromise is too much if it means getting power. Reminds me too much of third world dictatorships (and the Bush administration). On that note, she does seem kind of "Bush Lite" - same approach but not quite so bad.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    The real surprise to me in this whole thing was McCain's concession speech - I've heard so much about this honourable, dignified man who McCain supposedly used to be, without seeing one jot of evidence for it. And all of a sudden, there he was. One can only imagine the sort of race we would have seen had *that* McCain shown up to play. But then again, there's no point being gracious in defeat if that's the only time you can be gracious.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    and as my wife pointed out yesterday that 49% are "53 million rednecks with guns" .... a little bit of a generalisation

    Just a tad. I know quite a few armed rednecks. My cousin, in reddest of red rural Louisiana, a place where people hunt and shoot and fish and rail against the taxman and call people the n-word (oh yes. Still.), emailed me yesterday and said that although he didn't vote for him (he wrote in some crazy libertarian third-party candidate), he thought that Obama would be 'a good president, better than McCain'.

    Sometimes, you just can't tell who will think what, or how they'll react. They'll always surprise you.

    That being said: please please please don't let him get shot.

    in words that have become a refrain for so many, “I never thought I would live to see this day. I never thought it could happen in my lifetime.”

    Aaaaaaand the waterworks again. :)

    I got an email from my friend in Chicago. He said a large group of people were on their way to the rally when the election was called for Obama; everyone started running and jumping and skipping along the streets to the park like little kids do. He's 38 years old. I loved that image.

    a mixture of relief and shame (that it took so long) and joy

    This. I was there for that 2000 election debacle and ever since, I've thought 'there's no way they can come out of this spiral. It's just getting worse and worse'. Governments aren't all about rainbows and kittens, I don't expect that, but holy *crap* that was a long eight years of feeling totally disgusted with everything. Now I can just feel disgusted with about... 50% of everything, and it's a huge relief. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    North Carolina called for Obama, first Democratic presidential win since Carter took it in 1976.

    364 electorate votes.

    Just Missouri to come.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I can't help but worry about the backlash. A large proportion of the 49% are probably feeling pretty aggrieved.

    Meh... Do you think that nobody in the media really gives a fuck about those Republicans who are pretty disappointed, but got up on Wednesday and got on with their lives? And why should they -- sane grown-ups make really shitty television.

    And don't say this too loud, but I'm on various lists involving reality-based Republicans who would have voted for Cuthulu The Soul-Sucker as long as it didn't have Palin for a running mate. I know the narrative is that Caribou Barbie "energised the base", but I seriously think Colin Powell wasn't the only moderate registered Republican who couldn't vote for Bad McCain after an error of judgement like that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh cool.

    Roy Edroso has the lowdown on Red State's denunciation and excommunication campaign against anyone on the McCain campaign who betrayed Sarah Palin.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Roy Edroso has the lowdown on Red State's denunciation and excommunication campaign against anyone on the McCain campaign who betrayed Sarah Palin.

    *sigh* Forget denounce and excommunicate. I want to bring out the whole bag of tricks of the Inquisition for those on the McCain Campaign who betrayed the rest of us by not bitch-slapping that empty little head until the diva 'tude shook loose.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And Malkin proves, yet again why it's impossible to parody someone who does it at source:

    Shame on the smearers who don’t have the balls to show their faces.

    Apart from the rather uncomfortable picture on what adult fun in the Malkin household is like, does anyone else get the irony? I'm pretty sure McCain does.

    Still, I believe in miracles too -- People like Malkin are going to get the hell out of denial mode.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    (Q: Would we have cried, would so many have been so moved, had a woman been the candidate and the winner? I'm thinking not, and I'm not sure why. I'm also a little dismayed at myself for putting this question in parentheses; feel free to tease it out a bit more in the discussion thread).

    I was thinking about that as well Jolisa, and I agree, there wouldn't have been as many tears.

    I'm trying to avoid playing "your oppression is bigger than my oppression", which is a bit of a crappy game to play.

    But I think the path from slavery to today, is a larger journey. The daughter of a freed slave participated in this election. As much as it shouldn't have taken this long, it still blows my mind.

    I also think that the oppression of African Americans around civil rights are both more visual, and more recent. Lynchings, dogs, fire hoses, crosses burning on lawns. These have all occurred in living memory. The struggle of women to vote was both more distant, and a more civilised struggle - though still difficult and very significant.

    Lastly, my perception is that race is still a dividing line and very significant issue in America. Almost every household, workplace, social group has women and men. You can't say that about black and white.

    And, I think that in many ways the struggles of women around various rights, including civil rights, are easier to get less up in arms about because of these things. Women are everywhere, they're not segregated into neighbourhoods. "I'm not sexist" is easier to say, and to be accepted, when you're married to a woman. "You don't have any black friends" is true of many people, everyone has female friends and family members. It's an easier issue to not get uppity about, because it's less obvious.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Regarding this 'emotional pull of the first woman POTUS' issue... I think I would have been moved quite profoundly if Hillary had won, but... it really does depend on the person, ultimately. I wouldn't have felt that rush: 'he's just some random guy! Anyone can be president? Seriously?' with Hillary because she had a Washington background. And the fact that Obama is, by most non-wingnut measures, an admirable and inspiring person makes this 'first' all the sweeter for his supporters. But would I have been so thrilled if it was Colin Powell? Or, the lord forbid, would I be happy about the Holy Uterus of Palin occupying the Oval Office in 2016 or something? Gack!

    Also: the emotional pull for society at large would be different; most people accept that racism is bad, mmmkay? But it's still fun for a lot of people to be sexist, because we feminists are just a bunch of man-hating whiners who are making it all up and taking offence for no reason and should get over it.

    Kyle, I think the oppression olympics are depressing and stupid too, but many, many women have died horribly and suffered greatly as a result of sexism and misogyny; it's just that women are such a huge group, and we're all part of other subgroups, so it makes the kinds of popular narratives associated with the civil rights movement very difficult to write.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    More delicious irony...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    The thing that I pick up from your post is that even after 13 years of living in the US, playing taxes (I assume) and generally participating in day-to-day life you aren't allowed to vote without being a citizen.

    I am eternally grateful to NZ as my adopted country that they they allowed me to participate in the democratic process as soon as I was committed enough to become a resident.

    New Zealand is one of very few countries with a non-citizen franchise. And no-one is really sure why we do.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    But it's still fun for a lot of people to be sexist, because we feminists are just a bunch of man-hating whiners who are making it all up and taking offence for no reason and should get over it.

    Oh, replying to myself, I'm so awesome. Yeesh. But I just remembered that I've heard plenty of folk say that people of colour should 'get over it' and that they're making stuff up, too. So perhaps I'm wrong about that.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

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