Friday, October 31, 2008

Election Day: A Special Opportunity

This account of early voting incident was sent to me by a friend. I ask all of you who are eligible voters (and your friends and relatives who are eligible voters): what will you be able to tell your grandchildren about your decision on election day? I'll take "Mike the Race Car Fan" over "Joe the Plumber" any day.

Upon arriving at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati to vote early today I happened upon some friends of my mother's - three small, elderly Jewish women. They were quite upset as they were being refused admitance to the polling location due to their Obama T-Shirts, hats and buttons. Apparently you cannot wear Obama/McCain gear into polling locations here in Ohio .... They were practically on the verge of tears.

After a minute or two of this a huge man (6'5", 300 lbs easy) wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and Bengals cap left the voting line, came up to us and introduced himself as Mike. He told us he had overheard our conversation and asked if the ladies would like to borrow his jacket to put over their t-shirts so they could go in and vote. The ladies quickly agreed. As long as I live I will never forget the image of these 80-plus-year-old Jewish ladies walking into the polling location wearing a huge Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that came over their hands and down to their knees!

Mike patiently waited for each woman to cast their vote, accepted their many thanks and then got back in line (I saved him a place while he was helping out the ladies). When Mike got back in line I asked him if he was an Obama supporter. He said that he was not, but that he couldn't  stand to see those ladies so upset. I thanked him for being a gentleman in a time of bitter partisanship and wished him well.

After I voted I walked out to the street to find my mother's friends surrounding our new friend Mike - they were laughing and having a great time. I joined them and soon learned that Mike had changed his mind in the polling booth and ended up voting for Obama. When I asked him why he changed his mind at the last minute, he explained that while he was waiting for his jacket he got into a conversation with one of the ladies  who had explained how the Jewish community, and she, had worked side by  side with the black community during the civil rights movements of the  '60s, and that this vote was the culmination of those personal and  community efforts so many years ago. That this election for her was more than just a vote ... but a chance at history.

Mike looked at me and said, "Obama's going to win, and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."

Thank you for everything you have done for this campaign, now please get out and vote (and help get the vote out)! Best, N

bh

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