« Thank you, Wal-Mart | Main | Four more years... »

Back from Ohio

I just returned from 13 hours of poll monitoring at a working-class precinct in Toledo, Ohio.

It was cold and rainy all day, but the turnout was still very high--perhaps higher than 70%. I've heard reports from Denver that despite bitter cold temperatures early this morning, there were still long lines of people willing to endure the cold to vote before work. The radio reports say that this kind of thing was happening across the country.

Today was the first time I've ever volunteered for any election activities; most of the other people who were volunteering with me at the same precinct also claimed to be volunteer virgins. And there were a lot of us--observers inside and outside the polls as well as "get-out-the-vote" teams and rovers moving from precinct to precinct.

This election was very important to a lot of people. And so far, it seems like the country is, if anything, even more regionally polarized than it was in 2000. If a state was blue last time, it's blue by a bigger margin this time around. Ditto for red states. The amount of common ground between the two parties seems to be shrinking. Regardless of how the major swing states go tonight, we're going to have to deal with this intensifying cultural divide for at least another four years.

I'm clear about which side of this divide I stand. So I'll probably be volunteering for more elections in the future, win or lose tonight. But election victories are only temporary, and they aren't conclusive. Lasting "victory" can only come through persuasion--either us of them or them of us. We've got to find some common ground. That, however, is a job for tomorrow.

Tonight, let's have a few big swing states tip for Kerry so I can start celebrating!