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  • 12:20:39 am on November 11, 2008 | 0 | # |

    I just returned from Knox College, known for their academics and the Lincoln/Douglas debates. Though it was post election, I was so amazed at the lack of political paraphernalia. This is a self-proclaimed liberal school that actively protested a Q & A with Donald Rumsfeld. This is a school where conservative views are greatly opposed, and the only sign of victory in this historic election was the cover of their school newspaper.

    The Knox College newspaper

    The Knox College newspaper

    So in an effort to uncover the strong political opinion of this school, I went around campus with my camera.

    Their Union Board

    Their Union Board

    A strong voting reminder

    A strong voting reminder

    Knox College Democrats Board

    Knox College Democrats Board

    So this small town, holds this great collegiate environment, where occasionally political activism is promoted. I’ve been down in Galesburg enough to understand the political undertones of this university. To see that the only expression of excitement for an Obama win was on the cover of their weekly newspaper, I was disappointed.

    Maybe it’s being in a city where day after day we see headline after headline that essentially forces us to choose and then stand proud. It’s a constant conversation piece in Chicago, and in Galesburg, its avoided to keep the calm.

    I appreciate my opportunity to be in Chicago during this time more because of seeing the atmosphere here. We were vigilantly reminded to vote. We were forced to understand why we believe what we do. And we were the first row in the theater of Election night. We waited in long lines, and no matter which side of the aisle our vote went to. I am proud that my only memories of this night will not come from the “I Voted” sticker I received walking out of the voting booth.

    A Knox student's memento

    A Knox student's memento


  • 09:40:05 pm on November 6, 2008 | 1 | # |
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    I don’t think there is anything else I could write about the historic nature of what we witnessed Tuesday night. All I can say is that this city was electrified and will be for years to come. We have been elevated to a higher stature as the President-Elect’s hometown.

    One thing I had not realized was the many miniscule businesses that would be popping up on street corners election night. Buttons, CD’s, t-shirts, fans, hats, umbrellas, it was incredible. The resourcefulness of people amazed me. I spoke with a woman right outside of Garrett’s Popcorn Shop on the corner of Jackson and State. I forget where she said she was from, but the list of state’s she’s been to because of her button business was phenomenal: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, anywhere Obama was, so was she and her “Hope,” “Yes We Can,” and “Obama/Biden” buttons. I bought two for $5.

    The closer you got to Grant Park, the more enthusiasm, and the more entrepreneurs you encountered. I felt like I was at a sporting event. The whole thing seemed larger-than-life, at least larger than I expected.

    I hate to say that I left before the main event, but I prefer to watch momentous occasions on TV. I did get some footage from about 4:00-6:00 PM. It was such a wonderful experience to just be down there for even part of the night. What a great time to be a Chicagoan!

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CluBm16WYE%5D

  • 11:36:07 pm on November 3, 2008 | 0 | # |

    Watching the election returns was a tradition for my father and me every four years, for as long as I can remember. Miles separate us now, but perhaps the most important thing that came from those memories, was the knowledge that voting is vital. One vote may not change the course of an election, but that one vote is what makes this country the democracy it is.

    My boyfriend asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, which incidentally falls the day after the election. Secretly I wish that my candidate would win, but I told him that the only present I wanted was for him to vote in this election. He cast his vote for a different candidate than I did, so he did not understand why that was my only request.

    I missed the 2004 election by a day or two. I remember feeling so frustrated, but I look back on it now and am thankful that I get to cast my first vote in this election. Despite that, most people do not realize the gift of their vote.

    The 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments all provided a group of marginalized people with their political voice. Native Americans did not have this opportunity until 1947, though they have the most history with America. But it wasn’t until the 24th Amendment and the banning of literacy tests and poll taxes, in 1965, that everyone was given the opportunity to vote. However, even today, we have transportation issues, voting site proximity issues, accommodation for population issues, and technological issues. Hopefully, 2008 does not become another 2000.

    So when my boyfriend asks me why? I simply say, because my great-grandmother could not, and to me that is unimaginable.

    Please, for whatever reason – change, tradition, activism – get to your polling place tomorrow. Have your ID and for safe keeping, your voter’s registration card. Do not wear any politically motivated clothes, and wait in the lines for that opportunity.

  • 11:15:17 pm on October 30, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    No doubt, if you volunteered your time in this election, your workweek if far from over. At night, you have probably faced the daunting list of potential voters you have to call and remind to vote. This mobilization of telephones, lists, and workers is the political telemarketer, relentlessly selling their candidate or reminding sold voters to get to their election sites.

    Walking past Ann Sather, on Belmont just West of Clark Street, I have seen workers immersed in phonecalls with their memorized script not too far away. It’s a multitude of Verizons, T-Mobiles, iPhones, and Blue Tooths, with a welcoming sign outdoors to come in and join.

    Today I saw them mobilizing at 5 PM, yesterday they were in the restaurant when I walked by at 9 PM. Their storefront headquarters is right next door, but too small to hold the large amount of Obama callers.

    So, if your Halloween weekend isn’t already booked, head to their headquarters plastered with Democratic candidates for local and national office, I’m sure they will fix you up with a nice, long list of phone numbers.

  • 11:47:22 pm on October 29, 2008 | 0 | # |

    It began as Lee Greenwood would appreciate, “with amber waves of grain.” Barack Obama’s 30 minute, uninterrupted infomercial started as simply as that, with a price tag of a few million dollars. Criticized and praised, this presentation was no doubt the talk of news media, citizens, politicians, political science classrooms, small talk at the dentist, anywhere. It felt almost Roosevelt-esk, the evolution of the fireside chat.

    Despite the criticism of his actions, the move was ingenious. He captivated 30 precious minutes of Wednesday night television on major networks, and with 6 days left until the election, this may have been Obama’s checkmate.

    Incorporating personal narratives, speech highlights, biographical information, and direct messages to the viewing audience, Obama put together a concise, emotional presentation of his goals and his ideals. Intertwining the elements were five governors, three senators-including his running mate, and the CEO of Google, all with a background soundtrack so simple and folksy it could have been used on an episode of Friday Night Lights.

    Whether you say it was gripping, self-serving, wasteful, or amazing, you must admit, it’s historic. The enormity of what we have witnessed, regardless of party affiliation needs to be appreciated. The first African-American candidate for President, the oldest candidate to run, the second female to be a potential Vice-President, the first 30 minute ad for President…it’s all amazing and I, for one, am so proud to be a voting citizen in the 2008 election.

    In case you missed it…

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtREqAmLsoA%5D

  • 11:10:18 pm on October 23, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    Illinois is solid blue state, and according to recent polling data, the state does not appear to be wavering. So, what do all those election volunteers in Illinois do, if they want to help Obama or McCain and no other politician?

    Looks like those presidential election volunteers should hop on the MegaBus, Amtrak, maybe even a flight to the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado. As unfortunate as it is, the only affective canvassing will be done outside of state lines, which can be disheartening when trying to involve yourself in the political process.

    If traveling expenses are not a luxury, there are some hotly contested races in the Chicago area that might spark your political activist interest.

    In Chicago, the Cook County States’ Attorney race heated up after current and controversial States’ Attorney Dick Devine announced he would not seek another term in office. Tony Peraica ran uncontested on the Republican side, but a handful of Democrats fought for the nomination. Anita Alvarez defeated all others in the primary, and now looks to take over the position of her boss, Devine.

    Television ads have been abundant in the race for Illinois’ 10th District. Representative Mark Kirk (R) faced Businessman Dan Seals two years ago winning by just 53%. Seals has come back for the rematch. It appears as though Kirk has a slight lead in this wealthy, north shore district, due to great exposure from fundraising.

    And if you’re in the mood for a Rocky-like fight, follow Illinois’ 14th District where Businessman Jim Oberweis (R) is running against Bill Foster (D). Not only is the Oberweis name dominant in the dairy industry, it has also popped up for the fifth time in a race for public office.

  • 11:44:37 pm on October 20, 2008 | 1 | # |
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    I only thought it fitting for an Online Journalism blog project to have an assessment of the campaign and the internet. If you’ve been watching the news at any point today, you heard about Barack Obama’s enormous success with internet fundraising.

    His September donations totaled 150 million dollars, doubling August’s totals. So, I started thinking about how relatively new the internet is in campaigning for public office. I actually cannot remember a previous presidential election where I was willing or able to look up a candidate’s policy or find their personal website. Now I see Barack Obama’s face on my Facebook sidebar and Myspace sign-in each day.

    In 2000, it was difficult to get people to a candidate’s website. Whether you blame it on unfamiliarity or the speed of dial-up, fundraising was mostly done at party dinners and events. However, John McCain raised a few million on the internet that same year, but a couple million is hardly enough to sustain the price of running for president.

    The first to really take advantage of this medium was Democratic candidate Howard Dean in 2004. He rallied support and money from his personal website, and Obama has seemed to follow Dean’s lead. He has raised a total of 600 million dollars, and according to the New York Times has 3.1 million donors, 632,000 new supporters just in September alone. Most donations have been in small, under 100 dollar increments.

    The internet has revolutionized our world. Along with journalism changing, campaigning is changing right along with it. Without a technological savvy, you are likely to get left behind.

  • 11:02:32 pm on October 16, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    Monday began the excitement at the voting booth, as early voters rushed to exercise their right as an American to choose their president!  Ok, so maybe they did not storm the doors, but record first-day, early voting numbers were set in Chicago and the surrounding area.  In the suburbs, Monday’s cast ballots were 5X the record number, and in the city, 11,735 votes were cast, which is 3X the record of early, first-day votes.


    Early voting began in 2005 as a way to increase voter turnout.  Most voters appreciate this convenience and opportunity to avoid lines on Election Day.  Cook County provides many polling places and lots of information for interested residents.  Though you can vote early, the county emphasizes that you cannot “vote often.”  Once your early ballot is cast, it is official, no redo, no Indian giving, no take backs, say sayonara.


    And what if you don’t live in Cook County?  Absentee ballots increase voter turnout as well.  It’s almost ridiculous for someone living in Arizona to fly home to Illinois for a few moments in the voting booth, though someone in that situation might need a few more minutes to decide which Senator to betray.  Now, this regular Joe, probably a plumber, can mail his ballot to Illinois.  Some states even allow e-mailed or faxed ballots as well.  These votes can be counted anywhere between Election Day to ten days later. 


    In order to find out more information about absentee ballots, contact your state’s Secretary of State at least a week before November 4th.

  • 11:41:26 pm on October 13, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    Troopergate and Palin.
    Keating Five and McCain.
    Rezko, Ayers, and Obama.

    The associations and investigations have flown back and forth over the fine line drawn in the sand between the Obama/Biden campaign and the McCain/Palin ticket. But deductive reasoning has probably already led you to realize that this foursome has a member missing from the scandals popularized by the opposite campaign and the media.

    Has Biden really come through his long history in politics with no scratches, bruises, or blunders? Well, let’s leave the messing up of Amendments and history of broadcast television aside. Yes, there has been an accusation of speech plagiarism, but perhaps Biden’s biggest ink stain on his political timeline has been his involvement in the Thomas/Hill hearings.

    As former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Biden was responsible for overseeing the hearings for appointment of Supreme Court Justices. During the Clarence Thomas hearings, a former colleague and lawyer, Anita Hill, testified that Thomas made inappropriate comments and in essence, sexually harassed her. The testimony was heated, and Biden was caught in the crossfire. He did not allow a second testimony by Hill and received a great deal of criticism from the feminist community. Clarence Thomas was voted into his seat on the Supreme Court by a narrow margin.

    Biden has championed many causes involving women, including some extremely important violence against women acts. For many looking back, it seems out-of-character to have denied Hill a second testimony.

    But this controversy has stayed at the bottom of the attack pile by the McCain campaign and is apparently not “newsworthy” enough to join the ranks of Rezko, Ayers, the Keating Five, and Troopergate.

  • 11:36:49 pm on October 9, 2008 | 1 | # |

    Race has been an unaddressed issue in this presidential campaign, and I think most Americans can agree that it should not have to be addressed- ideally.  But today, CNN aired an interesting piece about the role this abandoned topic has played in the minds of American voters.  They highlighted a group of Pennsylvania steelworkers led by Jim English, Secretary-treasurer of the United Steelworkers International.  This group campaigns door-to-door in support of Barack Obama.  


    In the interview, they guesstimated that 25% of the people they talk to will not vote for the Senator- not because of his policy or voting record.  They have chosen their political position on the basis of Sen. Obama’s race.  Some responded that they refuse to vote for what they perceive to be an “unknown” characteristic.  Others based their choice on the way they were raised and the notions their parents instilled in them.



    Ok…so maybe 25% of the people the volunteer steelworkers spoke with felt this way, but that does not necessarily translate to the rest of our country right?  Who knows?  Actually, we cannot really know until after November 4th.  


    According to the last polling data I looked at, Obama was leading McCain by about 6%-8%.  But there is a particular trend that could factor into this election- the Bradley Effect.



    Tom Bradley was a candidate in the race for California governor in 1982.  Polling data showed that Bradley was leading his opponent by a significant margin.  However, he ended up losing the election.  This defeat was attributed to the tendency of voters to tell pollsters they are voting for an African-American candidate, as to not appear racist.  However, in the voting both, they end up voting for the white candidate.  


    As unfortunate as this is, the Bradley Effect has popped up in similar elections over the past few decades.  It is a reality.  This year, UC Berkeley is predicting the Bradley Effect to be 6%.

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