Thursday, October 30, 2008

The story of Mike, the gentleman

I received the following story from a friend. It is hard to post it without appearing to take a position in the current Presidential election, but I am really not doing so with that purpose in mind. I have been very careful on this blog not to discuss my personal political preferences, as I think those are not relevant to the topics I discuss on this website. You should not assume anything about my vote (which I took this morning) from this story. Regardless of your preference in this election, or how you think it is going to turn out, I hope you will agree that is a wonderful story about elections in America, one that gives a warm feeling about the possibility of comity and good will during even hard-fought campaigns:

Upon arriving at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati to vote early today I happened upon some friends of my mothers - three small, elderly Jewish women. They were quite upset as they were being refused admittance to the polling location due to their Obama T-Shirts, hats and buttons. Apparently you cannot wear Obama/McCain gear into polling locations here in Ohio.

They were practically on the verge of tears. After a minute or two of this a huge man (6'5", 300 lbs easy) wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and Bengal's baseball cap left the voting line, came up to us and introduced himself as Mike. He told us he had overheard our conversation and asked if the ladies would like to borrow his jacket to put over their t-shirts so they could go in and vote.

The ladies quickly agreed. As long as I live I will never forget the image of these eighty-plus year old Jewish ladies walking into the polling location wearing a huge Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that came over their hands and down to their knees!

Mike, patiently waited for each woman to cast their vote, accepted their many thanks and then got back in line (I saved him a place while he was helping out the ladies). When Mike got back in line I asked him if he was an Obama supporter. He said that he was not, but that he couldn't stand to see those ladies so upset. I thanked him for being a gentleman in a time of bitter partisanship and wished him well.

After I voted I walked out to the street to find my mother's friends surrounding our new friend Mike - they were laughing and having a great time. I joined them and soon learned that Mike had changed his mind in the polling booth and ended up voting for Obama. When I asked him why he changed his mind at the last minute, he explained that while he was waiting for his jacket he got into a conversation with one of the ladies who had explained how the Jewish community, and she, had worked side by side with the black community during the civil rights movements of the 60's, and that this vote was the culmination of those personal and community efforts so many years ago. That this election for her was more than just a vote...but a chance at history.

Mike looked at me and said, "Obama's going to win and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."

15 comments:

Ata said...

Information is leaking reporting that Sen. Barack Obama was treated for mental related illnesses in the 70's and early 80's and was prescribed anti-psychotic medications. Schizophrenia is the main reported diagnosis with a case of serve depression. It is suspected that he has not been taking is medications consistently.

Paul Levy said...

I have posted the above comment, not because the writer presents any support for the items mentioned, but to present the contrast between the story I just told -- one of kindness and civility that characterizes most people on both sides of this election -- and the kind of nasty innuendo that some people think is appropriate for campaigns.

Shame on you, Ata!

Anonymous said...

Serve depression is what you get when you're bad at tennis.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have resorted to telling no one for whom I voted (absentee)for fear of recriminations either way. This includes all my friends and my own husband. It is very sad, in the most successful democracy in the world, when it has come to this.

nonlocal

Anonymous said...

I forget who said this, but on some late night talk show I heard a quote.. to paraphrase.. the great thing about this election is not that americans will vote for barack obama because he's a black man, or even in spite of the fact that he's black, but because we have reached a point where we can vote blind to skin tone, and for the man himself. i don't think that voting for him because he's black is a very good reason at all... put your blinders on and vote for whomever you think it best for the country.

Anonymous said...

serve depression - bad at tennis is very funny.

please let's all try and remember Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech when he stated something to the effect of people being judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Regardless of who you support - please just VOTE.

Anonymous said...

It was a great story until the last couple of paragraphs. He and this one woman voted to be part of making history by voting for the black man instead of voting for him because he provided hope and optimism for a better country and a better future for its citizens. As a poster above was saying, voting for someone because of the color of their skin, their gender, national heritage or religion is not a good reason to vote for someone. Unfortunately, that is what happened here.

That post by Ata didn't deserve a spot on here.

Rob said...

Gentlemanliness. Sportsmanship.

Yes, they have "man" in them, but the concepts are universal. We need as many examples of these attributes as we can get. The last 4 or 5 decades have been all about the self, and look where it's gotten us.

Selfless behavior lifts us all, and feeds us. Knowing another will put themselves out for us means common safety. Civility breeds civilization.

Then we're free to be free, to explore our potentials, to succeed.

Without the homework, though, we're mere animals.

However you vote, please do it for civilization's sake. We're all in this.

Anonymous said...

This is a story about people from opposing sides coming together, for a kind reason, to discuss a very important election. One might wonder why gentleman Mike changed his mind. He obviously had a change of heart after visiting with the old gals. I don't believe that anyone involved in this wonderful story voted simply because of race. It almost goes without saying. There are too many issues. Huge issues.
Good luck to us all on Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Wow, so race was the deciding factor in the decision to vote for Obama. I knew there was another reason I should support him other than he was less like Bush.

Anonymous said...

one of the many things I enjoyed about this election is to see so many people care about the election. More young people are discussing it in varies public forums. I so wanted to stay to facts and it has gone to name calling and who might be more psychotic than the next. I loved the story if you even just take from it that everyone has the right to vote... truely the dreams of Martin Luther King... that everyone has the right to vote and Change the world...one vote at a time...

the mad LOLscientist said...

Ata, I think you've gone off your meds. You really should see your doctor ASAP — and get a referral to a good therapist while you're there. Delusional paranoia isn't curable, but it is treatable.

As for Mike, he's my new hero. Now that's America!

the mad LOLscientist said...

@ Ata, part deux: Would you care to substantiate your claim? I spent a half hour Googling the hell out of "obama 'mental illness' schizophrenia depression" in varying combinations and came up with numerous articles on the candidates' views on mental health policy but exactly two hits mentioning your allegation. Both came from extreme right-wing forums and neither provided a source. The only conclusion I can draw is that this is nothing more than a vicious lie perpetrated by someone trying to spread the hate.

Anonymous said...

Who would you vote for if McCain were black and Obama were white? Who would Colin Powell endorse if McCain were black and Obama were white? Where would the majority of the black vote go if McCain were black and Obama were white? I think this story perfectly illustrates how blinded by race Obama supporters really are to his radical ideology. Go ahead and be part of history...but be honest in four years as to whether or not you are better off.

Paul Levy said...

As I mentioned, the story really isn't about Obama or McCain. It is about warm feelings, civility, kindness, and good humor among voters. It would have worked just as well in the other direction.