Friday, October 29, 2010

Conversation: Go Giants! Go Vote!

It is election time and the Giants are in the World Series. I can't think of a more wonderful juxtaposition. San Francisco is abuzz with a tangible feeling of camaraderie. It is as if we have momentarily set aside all the things that make us different and united around a common cause: the Giants. I hope we learn form this feeling as we head to November 2nd.

I am not a sports fan. I never have been. In fact, I pretty much hate sports. I hate playing them. I hate watching them. I hate the food at the ballparks. I really, really hate sports. And yet even I am caught up in the spirit of the game. I am yelling at people in the orange and black, "Go Giants!" I am high fiving people as I come out of BART. I am listening in to conversations on Muni between people who would normally never speak to each other. In fact, I am even throwing a special The S. Kitchen for game 3 of the World Series. I am a bandwagon fan, and it feels great!

I am a politically active person. I may not be the one who is out there holding signs or signing people up for campaign lists, but I always try to stay informed and always try to inform others. Hey, it is why I transformed The S. Kitchen into potluck dinner parties for a cause: to connect people, ideas, organizations, and food. I know how crucial it is to build a engaged, informed, voting community in a democracy. It is what makes it function. It is how elections are decided.

San Francisco politics are a tricky thing. Everyone sees themselves as an outsider. Everyone. And because of our unique make up that is true. This city has a long history of supporting the poor, the vagrants, the disparate, queers, artists, immigrants, the homeless. It doesn't always succeed in providing the best support, but the heart is there; the passion is there. And supporting these populations is directly at odds with the wealthy that want to maintain their wealth. Here even the wealthy are outsides. And this makes coalition building incredibly unique here.

Watching snippets from national news coverage of the playoffs and the World Series, the rest of that national media looks at us as fags, socialists, potheads, freaks. All of our populations even with all of their uniqueness are being lumped into a single mass: freaky Giants fans who like drag queens and pot. And by the feel and look all over this fine city, they are right. We all are Giants fans. We all are San Franciscans. We all have pride in our city. We are all uniting around one thing. It is transformative.

But the World Series isn't the only thing playing right now. We are days away from November 2nd -- the same election date that brought us George Bush's second term. And this election is equally important. The propositions and candidates on the ballot will set the course of this city, state, and nation for years to come. Crucial decisions on taxes, new laws punishing sitting and lying on sidewalks, legalizing marijuana, redistricting, and more are moments from being decided. We need EVERY VOTER to make these decisions.

What amazes me about San Francisco right here and right now is the sense that the impossible is possible, that we all are Giants fans, that the game unifies. We need to build on this hope. We need to not just high five our brothers and sisters. We need to tack on, "Go Giants! Go vote!!" For while we all will not vote the same, if we ALL vote we have another common unifier: we are all PARTICIPANTS in our democracy. And that is something to truly celebrate.

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