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I've seen this before. It's the Red Tide.  R after R after R after R.  It happens on nights when the pulpit turns out its voters with threats of eternal damnation for those who don't vote for the Right Candidate or the Right Issue.  One wonders if an "I Voted" sticker is required for admission next Sunday. And too many People Who Should Know Better have something better to do during 16 days of Early Voting and 13 hours of Election Day.  I'll say one thing:  If what happened tonight happens on November 6, we'll be welcoming President RMoney to the Oval Office next January.

And worse.  Say it slowly so as not to vomit.  Governor McCrory (R--Wingnuttia) with 2/3 majorities in the State Assembly.  Can't sleep?  Me neither. I have kids who are just coming of school age.

I just finished a four week swing as an election worker in the Asheville area, assisting 2,644 people to vote.  I've worked the polls here on and off since 2004, where I helped a serious red precinct go 70% for W.  I knew by 4pm on election day in 2010 that NC was being swamped by a very smelly Red Tide that stinks up the statehouse to this day with its massive education cuts, ultrasound bills, and the King Turd we've affectionately come to know as "The Marriage Amendment."

But, as an election worker seriously dedicated to the sanctity of our elections, I swallow hard and process the next voter.  She's 18--first election--and registered Republican. I just don't see how an 18-year-old woman could vote for the party that would refuse her access to health care, contraception, choice, an education adequate for the modern world, while paying her 70 cents for every dollar a man makes in a state with wages driven down by Republican-sponsored "right to be a slave" laws.

And to really rub salt into your wounds, if you later decide that your irresistible attraction to someone of the same gender is not going away on its own (Gawd Forbid!), too bad.  Baby Jesus cries when gay people kiss, so we're going to outlaw and invalidate your dreams, your desires, your passions, your right to be happy as the person YOU ARE.  So have fun with that Stepford life.  Because all other avenues are foreclosed.  Way to kick your entire gender and generation in the nuts.

Here's your ballot, miss.  Welcome to Being a Citizen in a Democracy.  See you in November.  I'll take the next voter.

Early voting gets dull and we have to find ways to amuse ourselves to avoid arguments with our Republican colleagues, as we take an oath to leave partisan politics out of the voting enclosure.  Outside voting world, a bitterness gnaws at me, because I know every one of these pleasant Republican church ladies with hearts of gold who volunteer for everything and help everyone....they all voted to enshrine bigotry into the NC Constitution.  And they encouraged dozens if not hundreds to do the same.

On Election Night, I didn't even need to read the results tape I'd just run to know Amendment One had passed.  In my 55/45 blue swingy mixed up precinct, I watched 58% vote FOR Amendment One.  R after R after R after R.  I really need to scream.  I'm a professional here.   I hold it in.  Help the next Republican figure out why his name isn't coming up on the computer.  A few search tricks.  There he is.  You can get your ballot over there, sir.  Now go vote to deny others human rights you enjoy.  I'll take the next in line.  Yow.  Another R.

I gloomily posted the results tape and announced, "North Carolina has just rejoined The South."  One of the Republican workers--an NC native--responded, "Good.  Because those northerners are sooooo rude."  The remaining Ds didn't speak up and their silence brought to me tremendous horror.  These stand-up people, devoted capital D Dems might well have voted For this abomination.  275 voted For the 19th Century.  200 Against.  Only 213 Rs voted.  NC's Den of Iniquity, Cesspool of Sin, Home of All That Is Unholy, Buncombe County, only rejected it 51.5-48.5.  Uh, this county is 60% D, so either no Ds showed up or.....

And despite popular opinion up north (and I hail from the north and count myself well traveled), these are not ignant southern dandies.  They have no desire to bring back the Confedercah.  A lot of (otherwise) good people voted for this because someone somewhere sold them on the simple notion that marriage was between One Man, One Woman, AND GOD. I think most of them have had this idea (and many ideas that "sound right," but really aren't) reinforced by Sunday School Teachers, ministers, fellow parishioners, the entire culture in which they exist....since early childhood.  And some of these people are in their 70s and 80s.

So we expected these people to see a couple commercials, get a couple robocalls from Bill Clinton, maybe see a flyer about it.....and completely change their worldview?  I mean, didn't discrimination just very recently win with 52% of the vote in that bastion of Redneckia, California, in the same election that elevated the first African American to the Oval Office?  The same election, 4 short years ago, when said first African American POTUS carried the Great State of North Carolina?

I, like many of us here in NC, will shake my head and proclaim shame upon my neighbors for their disgraceful vote this black black Tuesday.  Even Tiny Thom Tillas admits this is a temporary victory for the forces of Take Me Back To the 19th Century, But Hey Wait They Didn't Have IPhones Back Then And Everyone Keeps Dying of Something Called Consumption!.  When the SCOTUS strikes down Prop 8, it's lights out for Amendment One and the end of One Man, One Woman for good.  The end of the electoral (not actual) majority voting to oppress yet another minority.  (Don't worry.  They'll find another minority to oppress.  It's just what They do).

Because I think you'd find Amendment One winning 80/20 20 years ago and 70/30 10 years ago.  We're down to 58/42.  Only 6 points behind California.  We freakin' ROCK!  

The answer, my fellow members of the so-called Creative Class who will not abandon our beloved North Carolina to Redneckia Backwater Alabama status, is and always has been....Love.  Understanding.  Compassion.  Helping your neighbor and your fellow man to realize that we live in a big crazy world where anything you can even vaguely imagine a person doing....not only is someone doing it already, but someone else is already jaded about them doing it.  There's no profit in being shocked by what a person will do.

Before you get your Underoos into a bunch and allow your self-righteous anger cloud your judgment, please remember you're talking about my neighbors.  I met them all. Because they all voted.  At my precinct, which is in my neighborhood.  The church-going, "my family" values, volunteer for everything, help everyone, heart of gold crowd.  And many but not nearly enough of my dedicated progressive Democratic neighbors.

How do we convince my neighbors--most of whom are good conscientious people--that much of the conditioning to which they've been subject....is WRONG.  False.  Factually and Demonstrably Untrue.  Much of it Batshit Insane.  And then how do we get the neighbors who Actually Get It TO SHOW THE F*** UP AND VOTE.  Because if we don't fix this problem by November, it's RMoney Time, folks.  

What will it take to break the Red Tide?  I can tell you what won't work.  Hate.  Vindictiveness.  Lecturing.  And "Northern Rudeness."  They freakin' HATE know-it-all Libruls around here.  So if you want to help NC See The Light, you need to help NC See the Light.  It takes boots on the ground for GOTV.  It takes people who know better showing up to VOTE.  It takes organization.  It takes compassion.  It takes commitment.  It takes intelligent discussion with fellow human beings who happen to be your neighbors, speaking kindly and respectfully on topics of disagreement, finding common ground.  I'm not talking about the Rushbo Loudmouths.  I mean the people who know lots of Rushbo Loudmouths and were unaware there was an opposing, cogent argument on the other side actually backed by provable demonstrably true facts.

I'm limited by my position regarding what kind of partisan political activities I can engage in.  But I'm damn sure going to get to know my church-going, "my family" values, volunteer for everything, help everyone, heart of gold neighbors.  I see them as victims of misinformation and a concerted campaign to keep them separate from me and my Will You People Please Cease Passing All These Stupid Laws That Oppress Me Already Even Though I'm Too Busy/Lazy To Do Anything To Stop You friends.

And just like I'd damn sure help my neighbor push a downed tree off his house, I'd consider it downright un-neighborly to allow him to be misled by a bunch of cheap con man hucksters like the Koch brothers.

Please excuse me.  I need to go cry now.  NC just cheapened my marriage by refusing the same rights and privileges to other people who desire the same commitment my wife and I share.  And I'm feeling very small right now......

9:03 AM PT: Thanks so much for this discussion.  I feel a lot better now.  I think this is my first trip so high on the Rec List.  You are all so kind.  We will prevail here with cool heads and strong hearts.

Originally posted to Man from Wasichustan on Wed May 09, 2012 at 05:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Southern Action and Street Prophets .

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