Lessons learned from the Senate race, recount

October 20, 2006
By

We are taught in school that the democracy of the US is the best in the world. It is a beaming example of freedom because we elect our leaders and choose our policies by voting. It seems good enough in theory, but in practice I haven’t been convinced that our votes are even counted. These last two presidential elections are stark examples of many relevant questions we need to be asking about our myth of freedom. I have been troubled by my own hardening cynicism and searching for ways to participate and educate myself beyond the commiserating that’s plentiful these days.

Enter Sonia Chang Diaz. I met her at the Leland Street Community Garden and was immediately impressed by her intelligence and enjoyed her company. When she turned up in the race for state Senator I was excited to help her out. I didn’t have any real knowledge about Dianne Wilkerson accept the unfortunate troubles reported in the press over the years.

What I liked about Sonia was that she seemed to be talking to me, the cynic. I chose the phone bank, and once a week I made phone calls introducing people to Sonia and her campaign encouraging them to be a positive change in the political world and to “expect more.”

I participated in the recount and realized first-hand how many ways one could miscount the votes. During the recount I saw the candidates, their lawyers, supporters, judges, armed police, silver boxes with numbers marked on them, the election council and the phenomenal tangle of logistics involved in actually counting the ballots.

I was genuinely moved by the loyalty of Dianne’s people and in listening to their testimonies began to realize how much she has affected a positive change for the community, despite negative press she has received for her financial difficulties. I stepped back and indulged an Aquarian vision: I could see Dianne helping Sonia learn how to work the system. With the two of them working together, Dianne’s good work for the people and organizations she brought to the table and gave a voice could be built on and not lost in the transition to new leadership. I could see how much Sonia and Dianne care about many of the same things and have good hearts too.

What they don’t share is the color of their skin. It is my experience that we are given different “rule books” in this country depending on the class and race we are born into. The gap between people is mostly created by the fact that they are following different rules, the rules that they were given at birth. I am placing my vote for rewriting all the books and doctrines and to be very clear we are representing all life forms in the first line, leaving none as afterthoughts (amendments). It sounds like a lot of work, but I don’t see solving the continuing violence as easy either. Why not work together creating solutions that we can really believe in and be proud to pass on to our children?

DJamil Graham
Jamaica Plain

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