Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ACORN Shmacorn

Why all the attention on ACORN? Is Barack Obama really linked to some grand voter conspiracy? Is anyone really taking this diversion seriously? Let me tell you about the time I worked voter registration in the Summer of 1988.

You remember 1988. It was "Run Jesse Run" instead of "Yes We Can." Race relations were tense. Rumors spread of the economy trickling down but the news had yet to reach my neighborhood. Eight years of a reasonably popular Republican Presidency were coming to a close. And there I was 15 years old and in need of work.

Okay I'll be honest I did pursue many other employment options before landing this coveted political gig. TARGET was not hiring, or at least they weren't hiring me that summer. No luck at the mall either.

I thought I had struck paydirt after securing a job as a telemarketer selling print toner. No such luck. My first week ended rather unceremoniously with an abrupt, "Thank you Will but you did not sell any toner, so here is your check for $67 and good luck to you."

You would think I'd be discouraged at this point. But this payday occurred on a Friday! And of course my theme song for the summer? You guessed it! "Just Got Paid" by Johnny Kemp. That was my "Eye of the Tiger" and I was on a mission. It was my battle cry, the theme music in the background as I pounded the pavements seeking out another $67 payday.

Even with all the rejection I thought very highly of my retail qualifications. I concluded that the economy must be in a severe recession and therefore I needed to take a stand, so I joined the ranks of an ACORN-like outfit (it might have been ACORN for all I remember).

Voter registration became my cause either by default or by destiny. My crew proceeded to canvass the supermarkets, the churches, anywhere we could find potential non-registrants.

Here we are twenty years later and I am utterly shocked to discover that I could very well have been part of an elaborate voter registration conspiracy (that obviously failed) to illegally thrust Jesse Jackson and/or Michael Dukakis into the Presidency. I am aghast to find out that I may have been working with such conspirators without my very knowledge. After all, I was simply an activist trying to transform the economy. The economy!!!

I worked tirelessly to register voters in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles not at all concerned about the size of my paycheck. The luxuries provided by the $1 commission per registrant was NOTHING compared to the satisfaction I felt after logging one more potential vote for Jesse, who of course did not get the nomination but fueled my enthusiasm nonetheless.

We hit the ground I tell you, educating voters about their rights and the importance of registering. Yes I was only 15 and had never voted and only took this job as an alternative to watching Gilligan's Island reruns the rest of the summer. And yes I did the math on how many people I'd have to contend with in order to match that $67 coup, but I was doing the work of the people!

Now, twenty years later, I am utterly shocked. Utterly. I am flabbergasted now to discover that the compensation I reluctantly accepted for doing the work of the people is apparently not enough for some of my colleagues in the struggle.

Um... you mean rather than deal with the arguing and rejection of supermarket shoppers and church goers who had no interest in registering to vote (for fear of being cornered for jury duty or who knows what) that I could have simply mailed it in? You mean I could have simply taken the liberty to register Mr. Donald D. Duck or Ms. Minnie A. Mouse and pocketed the extra cash with a clean conscience knowing that this would not at all interrupt the voting process?

Certainly these phantom registrants would not actually show up to the polls so the sanctity of the election would of course be safe. So did I miss out on the extra cash because I was too naive to recognize the opportunity? And even if caught, you mean to tell me they would have simply blamed it on the community organization itself, Jesse Jackson and/or Michael Dukakis leaving me in the clear anyway? What was I thinking?!?

And so here we are in the midst of such a "conspiracy." Voter registration fraud, and the McCain camp is desperately trying to link the actions of these conspirators, these 15 year old Target rejects, unsuccessful telemarketers looking for a quick buck, to Mr. Obama himself. Hmph.

Laughable. If the media spends one more minute on this issue I’ll be convinced that this is all a circus. Can we move on to real issues?

1 comment:

Nelda Brown said...

Amen, Will. Sometimes, I wonder if political pundits even stop to consider the full weight of their accusations. In the midst of everything crumbling around us, we're talking about ACORN? Is it that they just are looking for good fodder for TV? Let someone start talking about lipstick and pigs again and I'm done!