It didn't quite happen as envisioned, but it happened. Some of us Harris County Greens convinced Ajamu Baraka and his mini-entourage to travel to the Palm Center early voting site after Baraka's campaign appearance at TSU's Thurgood Marshall School of Law Saturday afternoon.
Kayleen originally wanted us to hike to the MetroRail stop and ride the Purple Line to Palm Center, but then she opted for the convenience factor. Driving there made it easier for us to take Baraka and his two assistants back to their hotel afterward.
Voting traffic was slow and steady on Saturday afternoon, nothing like a typical Sunday of early voting, but we did get to talk to some folks. Although they're accustomed to seeing candidates visiting their polling places, some of those folks found it difficult to comprehend that they were talking with an actual vice-presidential nominee from a nationwide party.
The TSU appearance was attended by about 60, the great majority of whom were not Green Party regulars. There was seating for about 100 more. The VP nominee spoke for about a half-hour, then answered attendees' questions for another hour and a half.
It was not a rally, smaller and quieter than Jill Stein's recent appearances in Texas; it was more of a dialog on policy, and Baraka was very much in his element. Baraka is not given to fiery rhetoric or histrionics, but there was still a shiver of excitement toward the end of the Q&A session. A student asked for Baraka's response to the oft-repeated notion that a third-party vote is wasted, and Baraka began his answer something like, "First, I would suggest that people who say that have a lot to learn about democracy."
Unfortunately for me, and for the Harris County Green Party IMHO, our local candidates did not have a chance to address the crowd. Thomas Kleven, candidate for Congress in TX-18, played host and gave a brief introduction, but on his home turf and home district made no show of campaigning. JosH Darr (TX-2) drove in from the northern reaches of the county, but he did not get to speak. Neither did State Rep candidate Brian Harrison (District 147, which also contains TSU and UH).
Baraka himself was very much like the impression he has given in his TV appearances: thoughtful, considerate, polite, polished but not preternaturally so, genuinely interested in the struggles of working people. He listened actively and intently as Kayleen filled him in on the travails of public school teachers in Texas since our Legislature sacrificed education on the altar of corporatism in 2011.
Sunday afternoon, Kayleen and I accompanied one of her dozens of foster children (who is now 25) to the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center for her very first voting expedition. Our new voter was worried mostly about having to stand in line for hours, as some of her Facebook friends had done. The line there was out the door, but with 40 machines in service the wait was less than 20 minutes.
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