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The Courtship of My Ohio

By Kathy Y. Wilson · September 19th, 2012 · Kathy Y. Wilson
nyntg 9-19
It makes me nervous knowing the re-election of President Barack Obama rests partially in the hands of Ohio voters and in the trustworthiness of the shaky Ohio electoral process.

I have the same uncertainty and nerve-wracked feelings when I watch the Bengals play. When I do I have to look away — turn the channel to Law & Order repeats as a buffer against a nervous stomach and (certain) heartbreak.

Even if they win, it’s always after some bungles, snafus and shoulda-known-better bullshit.

With the encroaching election, there isn’t a Law & Order marathon long enough to distract my attention away from what Ohio voters — and what the greasy-ass Republican machine — might do.

No Republican presidential hopeful has ever lost Ohio and still won the general election.

They know how significant we are, so we should, too.

They’ve stepped up their game.

In 2008 in Hamilton County, the GOP had one paid staffer and one office; today, they have 20 paid staffers and three “victory” offices.

Monday marked the president’s 28th trip to Ohio since 2008; in that election cycle, Ohio elected him by 30,000 votes.
Votes are like black folks at a Jazz concert: if you can count ’em, it ain’t that many.

Despite the mainstream media’s — and sometimes Obama’s — attempts to deracinate the 2008 election, I felt pressed yet buoyed by the social, cultural and downright racial ramifications of putting the first black man in the White House.

With George Clinton’s Funk chestnut “Paint the White House Black” running on a loop through my head, photographs of three dead Negroes — my maternal grandparents Ed and Mary Alice Hill (a coal miner and his stern wife) and my dear dead mamma who’d lived through Jim Crow, legal segregation, public lynchings and the civil rights movement — in my breast pocket near my heart, I tried to vote.

I’ve been voting since I was legally allowed to because those three dead Negroes instilled in me the necessity of my (black) vote; however, because of mix-ups in 2008 at two Walnut Hills polling stations, an overwhelmed Hamilton County Board of Elections and controversial and potentially unconstitutional tactics by the Ohio Republican Party to block early and absentee voting and even how votes are counted, I was ping-ponged between two polling places until, exasperated by the ineptness of poll workers at both, I finally demanded to vote at the one where I knew I should’ve been registered.

Afterward I was interviewed by Ohio Democratic Party staffers and allowed to vote provisionally.

Defeated, I went home and cried, unsure if my vote in the most historic election of my life had even counted. A worker called as promised. He asked a few more questions and ensured me — on the heads of my dead family members — that my vote was real and was counted.

Whew.

So here we go again.

While the president was in Eden Park, a gallery of multi-hued, many-generational and pan-sexual supporters strategically visible behind him, Rep. Steve Chabot spearheaded an “Unpatriotic Debt” rally somewhere else in the park with a motley crew including one black young man fresh from the Token Department of central casting. (Note: Someone please tell Chabot we can see that increasingly ridiculous and surreal comb over.)

It was a surreal morning befitting a presidential courtship.

It began with Air Force One landing at CVG to a presidential receiving line. Mayor Mark Mallory made creepy/dreamy eyes at the president long after he’d greeted him. Switching over to the bitches at The View while I waited for the president’s speech to begin, I caught former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura espousing conspiracy theories implicating both major parties.

“If I run for president I will run as an individual and not as a member beholding (sic) to those gangs of DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans,” Ventura said when pressed by Barbara Walters if he’d seek election. His mash-up of party and gang names is a reference to his latest screed DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government and it is annoying as hell to have to type more than once.

Back in Sanity Land, the president breezed onto the Seasongood Pavilion stage.

“Starting October 2, you guys can start voting and you’ve got a big choice to make,” he said. “It is a choice between two fundamentally basic ideas of how to move the country forward.”

The president is the more plainspoken between he and Romney in their Tax Cut Tango and therefore gets to lead. Obama says his administration is responsible for 18 separate tax cuts for small business owners and that middle-class families are paying $3,600 less in taxes since he took office.

“We’re not going back to trickle down,” Obama said. “We don’t think the economy grows from the top down, we think it grows from the middle out.”

And at this point he affected his black preacher bravado, that little tremor creeping into his voice. His supporters sense this every time he speaks and subconsciously joins in a pulpit call-and-response. Obama’s taken more granola-eating white folks to church than even he knows.

Because he was in a manufacturing region, Obama hit all the right notes about outsourcing jobs, noting Romney was incapable of standing up to China since all the governor had ever done was “send jobs to China.” When he said Romney had been “running around Ohio” campaigning, many in the crowed booed loudly at the mention of his name.
“Don’t boo,” Obama shot back. “Vote.”

During perhaps Obama’s first visit to Cincinnati at a downtown hotel for a 2007 breakfast fundraiser when he was gauging interest for a campaign, an elderly black woman knocked me out of the way as he and I made eye contact and reached to shake hands.

I stole a sign. Stuck it in the rear window of my dead mamma’s Mercury Sable. Got flipped off back then by passing drivers afraid of change.

It’s still back there: faded, bent and wilted.

And crooked.

Just like Ohio.


CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

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