Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cheesesteak the Impaler Votes at Pine Street Pizza #1: Finally Checking in from the PA Battleground, the Presidential Line

I admit your friendly deadly sandwich has been AWOL for the entire six week lead up to today's primary fight. I've been here, but keeping my head down. Yeah, the political fire's been flying thick, and not just on the Presidential level, but this cheesesteak has a few things in the pipeline, some related to the future of Bostodelphia, some which may be discussed in Bostodelphia, and still others that I'd love to tell you about but have been handed these nifty patches to ensure I don't.

As Cod pointed out in his p-shop send-up of Clinton's tendency to go crazy hawkish for votes, today is PA's primary day. Having just come back from my polling station/local pizza shop, I'll give you a run through of what it was like to vote in the 182nd PA General Assembly District. Or whatever it's called. Whatever it is, it's the 182nd of them.

Getting there wasn't a problem, it's almost literally around the corner from me. There were more campaign workers outside than voters and election workers inside, almost all sign holders and button wearers representing candidates for one race. If you're from outside of Philly, it's probably not the contest you're thinking, but more on that when I get to that line on the ballot.

Inside, there was a slight stall at the sign in table, as the poll worker had some difficulty finding my name on a card. She got it eventually, and I chalked it off to what's reportedly been and still will be a busy day at the polls. I was #183 to show at my station @ 12:15, which averages out to around 36 people an hour since polls have opened. I think the last time I voted, I was somewhere around 180 too, but while there was also a reportedly "high turnout" election for Philadelphia then, I had showed around 4:00 p.m.

In the booth, I made my run down. 1st up, my pick for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Yes, the cheesesteak has not wavered from Bostodelphia's February commitment to Obama. I actually stood among the 35,000 and heard, since I could see nothing but some bright lights over taller folks, the Friday rally speech:

While I'm not sure what the campaign was thinking when they picked Ed Kowalczyk from Live to play an acoustic version of "Lightning Crashes" as a warm up act for Will.I.Am (ok, Mr. Kowalyczyk may be from PA, but still...), I am still behind this campaign. As I've wrote before, Obama is the Democratic Party's best hope for change in American politics, a rallying figure for those who've felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party and electoral politics in general over the course of the preceding political generation. Senator Clinton has served the state of New York capably during her terms in office (and I voted for her first term). But to this sandwich the experience she touts strikes more of a political legacy which this country needs to shed. I am not speaking of her name per se. Rather, I find nothing in her record to really distinguish her from the rank and file of the Democratic Leadership Council who sapped the Democrats' progressive soul in exchange for industry-backed or bought electoral security. These are the people who gave us John Kerry instead of Howard Dean. This is the political calculation that stood by and did nothing while a President marched this country to war on false premises.

That said, if the Obama/Clinton signage ratio here in what Philadelphia affectionately calls the Gayborhood is any indication, and also informing this impression via conversations with some close gay friends, Obama's fallen pretty short on presenting a gay rights plank to his platform. I confess to not having studied this issue, but while Clinton seems to have articulated a substantial national strategy on gay rights, Obama seems to treat sexuality, like race and class, as something we as Americans should just be able to "get beyond." There is an appeal in that principle, but I'm sure many gays and honest straights would tell you such a principle is "pretty to think so" unless that principle is attached to a proactive agenda to make it so. I'm told more ambivalence and unease from the gay community toward Obama's candidacy stems from O's support from this guy, who claims to have been "cured" of homosexuality. If Obama gets the nomination, I hope to see something more substantial from the campaign regarding its stake in gay rights beyond lumping it with all the other "divisive problems" of political discourse that should just go away. Divisive issues require work to get past, and sometimes, "let's all just get along" doesn't work. In some cases, some people are, in fact, right and wrong. Seeing Obama actually bringing people together on a divisive issue (as opposed to saying an issue should be divisive) will be his true test on the campaign trail, however long he defers it.

Whew, that was a mouthful. I think I'll end this post here, and follow up with my take on the rest of the ballot in a subsequent post. To close though, yes, I've seen this:

Looks like the producers of this vid are from Los Angeles. Sort of telling. I'm the last person to treat Stallone's Philadelphia Icon with any sense of sacredness or religiosity; but at the same time there's something a lot of people, even those who claim to love Philly, miss about Rocky. In the original, Rocky only wins in the "heart" category, he actually loses the match. He only starts winning in the ring in the sell out sequels. Is that what we want?

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