On the streets of Cuyahoga

This is my return to columnizing after a three month hiatus. After writing a (mostly) weekly column for 18 years, I definitely needed a break. For the last few months, I have been mainly focused on my offline venture of starting up the Genesee Volley Tennis Club. (See http://www.geneseevolley.com).

That’s going very well, thank you, but since the outdoor tennis season is winding down (and the election is finally over) I thought I might venture back to blogging and see how it goes. No promises!

Of course I have had strong opinions about what has been going on in our long national nightmare, but I didn’t feel the need to add to the cacophony. Now that my ilk have been cast back into the political wilderness known as the Loyal Opposition, I feel the need to put in my two cents.

I was an early, constant and loyal supporter of John McCain. I felt he had the best chance of any Republican to win in what was obviously a very Democratic year, and also that he was the man I most trusted to guide our country through very treacherous international waters.

It was for that reason that I found myself on election day on the mean streets of Cleveland, Ohio serving as part of the Cuyahoga County Republican Committee legal team. Our job was to advise and support Republican observers in the polls. I was teamed with a local Ohio Attorney and we were given a list of about 15 polling places to monitor on the east side of the city.

The districts we were given were for the most part 99 per cent black, poor and Democratic. It soon became clear that we were hopelessly undermanned and out organized by the Obama team. While the Democrats had two or three official observers in every polling place we had none in about half of them.

From anecdotal evidence this was not because of a lack of people in Ohio willing to help. As a volunteer, it was way above my paygrade to know why the Republican organization was so incompetent. I’m sure there was ample blame between the local and national organizations to go around.

The bottom line, however, is that in a battleground state that was crucial to Mr. McCain’s strategy, we could not seem to get the people on the ground to properly protect Republican interests. This seemed especially troubling because of all the publicity about potential election fraud by ACORN and other groups, and in particular because of Cuyahoga County’s reputation for (at best) incompetent election administration.

As it happened, of course, Mr. Obama won the state of Ohio by about 200,000 votes. While I am quite certain that many people voted (once or more times) who shouldn’t have under the law, I am also sure that it was not enough to swing that big a margin. The point is, however, that it could have been a lot closer, and if it had been, there was absolutely nothing we could have done to stop the Democrats from stealing the election.

This should concern Americans of all political persuasions. Coming from a small town, with a strong two party system, it is hard to grasp how an area can operate under essentially a one party system. In one of the districts, one of our observers looked through the registration book and discovered that of 1,500 voters, there were only 2 registered Republicans!

I am not saying that blacks, or poor people, or Democrats are any more likely than any other group to try and steal an election. I’m sure that rich, white Republicans would be just as likely if they were left without anyone watching. That’s human nature. As Mr. Reagan said, “Trust, but verify!”

5 responses to “On the streets of Cuyahoga

  1. I’m glad to learn you are back, and I enjoyed learning about your electioneering experience.

    I can recall serving as a poll watcher in the south side of Chicago in the late 1950s when an independent ran for alderman, no easy task in a city known for its rough and tumble politics. It was an interesting experience also.

  2. You mean like when Bush stole the election from Gore? He managed it even when people WERE watching.

  3. Actually, I don’t think anyone has accused Bush of stealing Ohio from Gore,maybe Florida. A lot of people do think, however, that Bush stole Ohio from Kerry right in Cuyahoga County! Can Republicans and Democrats at least agree that nobody should be stealing elections?

  4. I’m glad to see you back doing what you do best. You sound crisp, informative and open to ideas. In this election I actually preempted my friend, Susan Eisenhower, in moving from the Republican camp into the Democratic to support Obama. I did so even with the disappointment and displeasure of family and dear friends. I had been very impressed by Obama and his ideas since I had viewed his announcement at Springfield on TV. I had hoped through the primary battles that McCain might still be my candidate. But as McCain began to campaign it was evident to me that he was a changed man. By the time he made the headline making selection of Sarah Pailin for his running mate, I had firmly determined to vote for Obama. McCain himself made it a campaign of personalities and not of ideas and policies. Toward the end of the road, he bacame just an angry old man moving his focus daily. He was a shadow of the wartime hero and senator I knew. Digging up dirt on Obama daily late in the game only made him appear desperate. In the end, he was brave enough to lay the blame for his loss squarely at his own feet. I am not 100% in love with Barack Obama or his campaign but I am 100% for what it has meant for this country. His choice of Biden was masterful and that clinched it for me. Post election, I am also not so pleased to see that Obama has selected a tough old politico as his chief advisor. Ah, well, we begin our descent from the clouds of victory to the earthly business of running a government in a Washington that more often than not changes men rather than the other way around. Regardless, we now need to help President elect Obama and each other reach the next level to get this country out of this morass. That said, a high priority should be to reform our election law. This is the only way to ensure the best government possible. There is no excuse for the extreme in campaign funding we experienced in this last campaign. McCain faced an Obama organizational tsunami because – aside from a well formulated strategy – adequate funding was there to fuel the engine of his effort. We need to bring an end to the campaigns of the well-heeled and the well-connected.

  5. Dear Corrin;
    I just returned from Turkey; I had left to go there on Election Day so I missed all the “drama” of our national election.

    On November 5th., I started sporting my “Obama/Biden” button in Istanbul and I was amazed by the number of Turks who came up to me when they saw my button , wanting to share in our historic election. The Turks really were excited about our election and it was interesting to experience the aftermath from thousands of miles away. By the way, Turkey is an extraordinary place and I would certainly recommend it for those who want to experience a place with such a rich and vibrant culture and history.

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