Voting, Organizing, and Protesting

I voted in a local election today in Charlottesville, Va., a progressive town in a regressive state in a very backward nation. The electronic machine I voted on creates no paper trail. The friendly woman who directed me to it reassured me that they would produce a paper record later, which I could read at the registrar’s office, completely missing the concept of producing a simultaneous record that could later be compared with what the machines produce. But I did have to show an ID, so everything’s all right. Charlottesville is where, years ago, I met the brilliant labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein whose article in Slate today adds significantly to our understanding of the importance of the Day Without Immigrants we’ve just witnessed. This mass mobilization for basic rights, not the latest strategic plan from the DNC, may be our best hope for a democracy in this postmodern and postpapertrail nation. Remember last spring when we fought the bankrptcy bill, and Congress rammed it through anyway with bipartisan support? This article in this month’s Dissent Magazine explains how corporations are now carefully using the bankruptcy process against labor. This is what any movement immigrants can create — we “natives” obviously need to follow their lead — is up against.

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