Election 2012 | Bleader | Chicago Reader

Election 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is Big Bird in trouble?

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 06:00 PM

  • Featureflash/Shutterstock
When the national bipartisan arts advocacy organization Americans for the Arts reviewed arts policy stands in the presidential race (including support for NEA, NEH, and arts education), there was a clear divide: on seven of seven issues, Obama supports the arts and Romney either doesn't or hasn't indicated whether he would. Here's the tally.

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Abortion was the most important election issue for women, but not really

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 03:50 PM

Congressman Todd Akin to a higher power: What do you mean women arent superhuman?
  • AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
  • Congressman Todd Akin to a higher power: "What do you mean women aren't superhuman?"
It’s no small relief that the end of this campaign season means we get to say goodbye—at least temporarily—to the sometimes phony, sometimes offensive courtship of that most coveted voting block: women.

The minds of women were puzzled over throughout this election cycle, even by other women (“there’s little consensus on which issues and priorities we collectively care about”). But really, women are not that mysterious.

So . . . what should we take away from the past six months of politicians trying to pin us down and pollsters trying to read our minds? For starters, many of us could have used a break from the inane discussion about whether the issue of abortion really matters as we choose our next president. Of course it does. It’s just that few people seem to understand why.

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My vote—public knowledge

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 11:42 AM

A roughly analogous experience
  • A roughly analogous experience
I expected my Election Day Bleader post to say this:

My wife and daughters waited in line three hours Sunday at Horner Park to vote early. I was in and out of my usual voting site in 20 minutes Tuesday morning. Maybe this new trend of voting on Election Day will catch on.

But before I could post I had to vote. So I walked the two blocks up to my usual voting site, Courtenay School. I went around back to the rec room entrance. There was no flag, no line, and no activity. The door was locked. A small cluster of bewildered voter wannabees formed.

We went around to the front of the school and went inside to find out where we should go. There's a notice on the front door, someone said brusquely. We consulted the notice. Instead of telling us where to go, it gave a number to call to find out. We got out our cell phones, but the number was constantly busy. There was also a website to consult, and the woman with a smartphone gave it a shot. But she couldn't connect.

Someone going into Courtenay said there was voting a couple of blocks north at Ravenswood Elementary.

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A president shall be forged in the loins of the nation's breadbasket

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 10:40 AM

In Ohio, a town square
  • Kevin Long
  • In Ohio, a "town square"
In the last presidential election, Sarah Palin provided the strongest suggestion of local "color." John McCain had his backstory (Vietnam) and Barack Obama had his (Muslim); Joe Biden was your east-coast everyman, and Palin took it upon herself to rep a different kind of backwoods style than Washington generally sees, at least at the level of executive power. The southern accent is a standard political dialect; here was someone out of Fargo, not so much hiding her ignorance as boasting it, and justifying the whole Alaskan-hillbilly act as a gesture of cultural difference—a way in which she, Sarah Palin, could transcend all the elitism and speak a certain kind of truth to politics.

That Palin was ever taken seriously points up the ways that rural America is fetishized, to just about everybody's detriment, by electoral politics and by the media that report on it. So it was heartening earlier this week to see Walter Kirn's salvo about Ohio on the New Republic website; Kirn's been covering the campaign for TNR, and an earlier filing, a memoir of the author's time as a Mormon, is still one of the loveliest and most thoughtful things I've read about (at least tangentially related to) the presidential race this year. In that essay Kirn was nostalgic for Mormonism; this week he is not nostalgic for Ohio, where he's from. Why is it Ohioans who decide the presidency? Kirn wonders, with just a touch of forgivable hyperbole.

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Election picks that can't miss, based on years of research and random guesswork

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 07:30 AM

And the winner is ... not this guy. But thank you for playing.
  • EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images
  • And the winner is . . . not this guy. But thank you for playing.
Like everyone else who's been scouring Nate Silver's latest posts, I find myself thinking I've got a handle on this election.

Sure, the polls are close, I live in a Democratic bubble, and I turn the sound off every time a political ad comes on the tube during a break in the game. On the other hand, I've spent years observing the robust governing process in the president's hometown, and I still know a few Republicans, some of whom aren't even related to me.

So here's my hunch about where this country stands at this critical moment: we're not completely hosed yet, so people in Washington, quit doing dumb shit with our rights and our money.

Before I unveil further insights, be forewarned: if my record in sports is any indication, anybody I designate a winner will have a greater propensity to fumble at the goal line.

Without further ado, here's my best set of predictions about how the 2012 election will go down:

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Escape to Canada?

Posted By on 11.06.12 at 06:54 AM

If our goose is cooked by the election, should we head north?
  • mikebaird
  • If our goose is cooked by the election, should we head north?
If Mitt Romney wins Tuesday, I'm hopping on a plane this week and splitting for Canada.

If Barack Obama wins, I'm still flying to Canada. I'm visiting a friend in Montreal, and the timing is coincidental.

I did consider a Canada escape once, but that was several decades ago. It was option number two, after conscientious objector—but then the draft ended and took me off the hook. I was happy about that, because Canada is cold.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

You don't mean a thing if you ain't in a swing (state)

Posted By on 11.05.12 at 06:20 PM

He probably voted for himself, but in Illinois he didnt need to
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are neck-and-neck in the national popular vote. And so tomorrow, across this great nation, there will be one thing left for their supporters to do: call everyone they know in Cleveland or Milwaukee and lobby for their candidate.

Oh, and vote. But unless you're in a swing state, that part doesn't matter so much.

For the same reason, Chicago-area Obama volunteers did which of these activities over the weekend, as on other recent weekends?

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How close is the presidential race?

Posted By on 11.05.12 at 11:26 AM

Lauren Kaesberg, with her son Atticus, voting downtown Friday
"It's a tie game, and there's a loose ball," Neil Newhouse, a Mitt Romney campaign pollster, told the New York Times this weekend.

If that's the case, President Obama could simply send the Chicago Bears defense to Ohio to grab the ball and run it in for the winning TD.

But Newhouse's assessment is wishful thinking on his part—or, more likely, his attempt to persuade Romney supporters that things look better than they do, lest they give up and stay home. Newhouse is the guy who said, after certain Romney ads attacking Obama were proven bogus, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."

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This week, we're writing about dread—guess why

Posted By on 11.05.12 at 08:09 AM

What this week feels like.
  • What this week feels like.
Welcome to Dread Week, this week's Variations on a Theme. Why dread? After all, the candidate you or we want could win this week—and that would be good, right? Well, not exactly.

Regardless of the outcome of this Tuesday's election, remember that either candidate has a daunting list of obstacles ahead. Here's a few: poverty, overcrowded prisons, a continued presence in Afghanistan, a mostly unregulated financial industry, an ominous potential crisis in the Middle East, possibly three new Supreme Court justices, increasing storms and climate-related catastrophes that may or may not be the product of global warming, and a housing crisis that's only now beginning to end. Oh, and there's too many people. That's just a start.

It's difficult to imagine anyone being able to properly deal with all of these problems. And even if the winning candidate has a good solution to any challenge on the horizon, he will have to usher it through filibusters and other assorted Capitol Hill chicanery from either party, not to mention a new-media machine that will continue to churn noise and pounce on any gaffe or miscue, especially when it can be packaged into a meme that generates a minuscule profit.

Democrat, Republican—who cares? Either way, we will face the next four years with the same fear and unease we bring to everything nowadays. Even after many of us embraced the last election with a sense of optimism rarely seen beforehand, four years later, we realize that some things change but most things stay the same. And if things didn't go exactly as we hoped, what should we expect from the next four years, especially when we embark on that journey without any of the rosy-hued conviction we had in 2008?

All this week, check back here to read about how Reader writers dread all manner of things. And in case you missed our remembrances of elections past, check out last week's Variations on a Theme.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Your early-voting election guide, plus results of our totally scientific early-voting exit poll

Posted By on 11.02.12 at 01:02 PM

An early voter casting his ballot in Chicago last week
It's not too late to vote early. Chicago voters can vote until 5 PM today, or between 9 AM and 5 PM tomorrow, the final day for early voting. Every ward has a polling place, and there's one downtown at the Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington. Chicagoans can vote at any of these sites, no matter where they live.

For a hint on the shortest lines, the Board of Elections offers this tabulation of early voting thus far in the various polling places. Through October 27, Davis Square Park, in the 15th Ward at 4430 S. Marshfield, had the least ballots cast: 274. Mt. Greenwood Park, in the 19th Ward at 3721 W. 111th, led the neighborhood polling places in ballots cast, with 3,172. At the Board of Elections, 9,982 ballots had been cast, but that site also has the most personnel and equipment.

The deadline for registering to vote was October 9, but those who missed it can still register and vote, because of a grace period that also ends Saturday. Grace-period registration is at 69 W. Washington.

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