, Salem, MA

November 10, 2012

Letter: The American kaleidoscope

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

The contrast between the Obama, Warren and Tierney and the Romney, Brown and Tisei election-night gatherings said it all:

Mr. Romney’s, Mr. Brown’s and Mr. Tisei’s campaigns attracted a milky white, jingoistic, homophobic, pessimistic sample of those rapidly exiting center stage in American public and political life. The ghost of America past.

President Obama’s, Sen. Warren’s and Rep. Tierney’s campaigns attracted a uniquely American kaleidoscope of color, language, national origin, age and hope for the future that America really is. The vision of America present and yet to come.

I witnessed the so-called “Democratic Machine” in action across Salem. Machine? No, this was no machine. This was an army of retirees, nurses, teachers, middle-class parents and grandparents, emerging Latinos, returning warriors, “free at last” people of differing sexual orientations, and wonderfully positive thinking young people free of the prejudicial bonds that still cripple the thinking of many of their elders. They made phone calls, held signs, gave rides to the polls. They never stopped. A 72-year-old man banged on his last door at 7 p.m.

Where was the other side? Were they walking 21/2-hour routes, banging on doors, climbing flights of dark stairs, talking to people who don’t look, sound or, in some cases, think like oneself? Oh no! That is simply not something that investment bankers, intentionally blind accounting firms that cover for them, market manipulators, and high-priced lobbyists and bloggers living in mommy’s house do. That sort of stuff is for the little people, the “47 percenters” of Romneyville. I did see former Councilor Ronan out there, but he was lonelier than Custer at the Little Big Horn.

I worked Election Day in Ward 5, Precinct 2. I was treated to a vision of the America that spoke on Election Day:

A 60ish man of Northern European heritage cuddling his adorable brown-skinned grandchild while the child’s parents voted.

A severely disabled mid-50s woman who dragged herself to the polls.

An aging mother accompanied by her daughter, a highly successful professional whose sexual orientation differs from her mom’s.

A young Latino veteran who was bursting with pride at casting his first presidential vote.

A young woman with a hyphenated last name, one being a very common “American” name, the other clearly Iranian.

And on and on it went. Money didn’t win this election. At least not in Salem. In Salem, it is certainly true that the GOP was exposed as, in the words of Republican operative Matt Dowd, “a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ world.”

Brendan Walsh