Archive of Campaign 2008’s Hopes

Posted by Katherine | January 29, 2009 – 12:10 pm

Hope street art
[WildebeestEyes / Flickr]

After almost twelve months, it is time to put this blog to bed.

The picture above seemed a good finale for BallotVox. Jonathan Wood — a “Chicago-based human and sometimes photographer” — took it in his hometown last month. It features pluma*’s street art inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem that begins, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Pluma* appears to have intended it as a nod to Obama, but interpret it as you wish. Whatever your politics or opinion about the new president, hope for the country’s future is a handy thing to have.

This site also stands as a record of the hopes that regular people expressed throughout Campaign ‘08. What they thought and fought about during the campaign and the transition and the inauguration. If you missed any of it as it unfolded, explore BVox using the archives or the tags in the sidebar. Or lose yourself in our full collection of 3000+ posts, photographs, and videos (also searchable by tags).

If this is your first visit to BallotVox, everything is explained here.

You could also start with a few ballotvoxregulars — those standouts who created consistently great stuff. LA-based filmmaker/screenwriter David McMillan, for example, whose stable of characters commented fearlessly and humorously on the candidates. Or New York hip-hop vlogger Jay Smooth who says smart things in smart ways. Or Phil-born-in-Philly who documents the corners of DC through his camera lens.

Working on this project blew me away, daily. I will miss discovering the viewpoints that people of every stripe shared vigorously online. There is a fierce intelligence and talent out there on the web, if you dig around a bit. Thank you, Public Radio Exchange, for dreaming up and running this “curating” experiment. Thank you, CPB, for funding it. And thanks, awesome co-curators, for casting the net far and wide.

Circling back to the photo at the top of the post: Obama art was one of the most exceptional aspects of Campaign ‘08. Not because it was about Obama, but because of its contagious creative force. There just wasn’t anything even approximating it for the other candidates. It never would have been recorded so thoroughly (nor spread as effectively) without social media. Even Time Magazine, in its Obama issue last month, collected stuff from Flickr. Not one but two (at least) blogs devote themselves to compiling the Obama art documented online. So, to close, here are a couple of last examples.

Darcy Vasudev runs the Henna Lounge in the Bay Area, where you can get yourself adorned or purchase supplies. This is the design she created on election day (on her own hands):

Obama henna design
[darcitananda / Flickr]

Chicagoan Kelly, “graphic designer by day, scrapbooker by night,” recorded this mural in Philadelphia. It’s by Shepard Fairey, the street artist who was the mad scientist behind the strongest Obama-art virus of all: the “Hope” poster.

Shepard Fairey mural
[kellyp23 / Flickr]

If you’re curious to see more, check out our other posts featuring Shepard Fairey and campaign art in general.

Here’s to the next four years. And to the new ways citizens will be able to comment on the election in 2012!

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The First 100 Days

Posted by Katherine | January 27, 2009 – 1:59 pm

Obama has one of the highest initial job-approval ratings (68%) of any post-WWII president. The flip side of it: The Expectations.

Dave Rex Wood is a software engineer and enthusiastic amateur photographer in Colorado. On inauguration day, he revived the post-election Message for Obama phenomenon and sent six more requests to the new president. “Nothing major,” he says, “just a few things I hope he’ll take care of over the next few years. With our help, of course.”

Bread-line statue
[d.rex / Flickr]

Two of Obama’s priorities: the economy and the Middle East. He is trying to speed economic-stimulus legislation through Congress. And he has met with his national-security team about Iraq and is attempting to project a new tone towards the Arab world.

Twenty-seven-year-old David Cajio from New Jersey explained in an email that he writes computer code to pay the bills but recently started pursuing photography as a possible career. Around the time of the election, he created this commentary on the economy, asking, “Does the present blend so easily with what has happened in the past?” (The bread-line statue is part of FDR’s memorial in DC — see it also featured here.)

Bread-line statue
[hadeair / Flickr and Cajio Photo]

Melissa Brewer is a college student in Greensburg, Indiana, majoring in photography. After the election, she took this picture of her husband, who was expecting to be laid off from his job at a car-parts factory.

Stabilize the job market
[Melissa B Photography / Flickr]

Lloyd Allen is a soldier currently deployed in Iraq. He doesn’t find military life interesting or fun but feels “the middle east is something to capture” — on camera, presumably. He’s been in Iraq since October 2008 and would like to leave, so just after election day, he made this message for Obama:

Don’t forget the troops
[>…BuriedALive… / Flickr]

He also created this collage:

Boys in Iraq
[>…BuriedALive… / Flickr]

Under the photo, Lloyd says, “Yes he did.. Now Trick or Treat?”

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Lincoln Memorial Looking Pretty

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 4:15 pm

Since Abraham Lincoln’s “new birth of freedom” was the official theme of the inauguration, and since Obama looks to the former president from Illinois for insight, it seemed fitting to wrap up our inauguration posts with these two photographs of the Lincoln Memorial. They were taken by Bay-area TV “graphics guy” Hugh Grew, who was in DC to work on the “We Are One” concert. (We featured him previously here.)

First up: nighttime. With waiting bleachers and Lincoln shining out.

Lincoln Memorial at night
[earmuffboy / Flickr]

Next: daytime.

Lincoln Memorial in fog
[earmuffboy / Flickr]

Hugh explains that the lustrous mist came from a rather pedestrian source: a generator in use for the upcoming concert.

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Underneath the Bleachers

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 3:09 pm

You’ve met Phil before. A bunch of times: here, here, here, here, here, and here. He lives just outside DC and over the last few weeks walked the city, documenting inaugural preparations as well as the ceremony itself. He created one of the most remarkable inauguration photo collections out there on Flickr.

This shot — which he took under some parade-route bleachers close to the White House — shows up his eye for light and pattern:

Underneath the bleachers
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

Phil is, he assures me, just an amateur photographer who sometimes happens to be “in the right place at the right time.”

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Inauguration Memorabilia

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 2:19 pm

You’ve seen the t-shirts and hats and buttons. But the inaugural memorabilia went waaaaay beyond that.

Blogger/site producer Karon Flage from Arlington, Virginia, (featured also here) spotted Obama water in tidy rows at the inauguration concert:

Obama bottled water
[Karon Flage / Flickr]

Phil, fellow Arlington resident and ballotvoxregular extraordinare, (check him out here, here, here, here, and here) found a similar geometry in Obama perfume, also for sale at the concert:

Obama perfume
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

Phil claims that he didn’t buy any.

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part VI

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 1:36 pm
Love parody of Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster
Make your own version here.
[patriotworld / Flickr]

Babychaser is a lawyer living in Maryland near DC. She’s 36 years old and has been struggling since 2005 to conceive a child with her husband/partner(?). On inauguration day, they walked and walked to get to the ceremony, and in the end it was worth it on several levels:

I was there. It was a pain in the ass, physically brutal, and not entirely fun, but I was there. When the tide turned, when America took that great leap forward, when we once again became a model for other countries to follow, rather than a subject of derision and disgust. I was there. […]

I thought I would cry when Obama was sworn in, like I did the night they called the election. But my reaction—and the reaction of the crowd—was much more subtle than that. I had thought we were coming out to the Mall to celebrate, to welcome Obama, to revel in our jubilation. And yes, that was a part of it. But when the ceremony started I realized that our real purpose was deeper, more profound: we were there to stand as witnesses to the moment. […]

And then the speech was over, and I turned with the crowd to start the long trek home. But before I had gone two feet J spun me around and kissed me, hard. We kissed for a long time, and that’s when I cried, just a little. Surrounded by thousands of strangers, and sitting in the lap of history itself, there was a moment where it was just the two of us. Live hasn’t given us everything we’ve wanted, and god knows we’ve had it hard the last few years. But we are a unit, a team. And like everything important in life, this was something we witnessed together. As I told him in a very cheesy e-mail the next day (he had to drive back to Philly Tuesday night), I’ll remember that kiss till the day I die.

After that came the more prosaic “human gridlock” of leaving the Mall.

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part V

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 12:14 pm

Osvaldo Padilla has a background in journalism and now runs a commercial/corporate video-production company in Florida. He went to DC for the inauguration hoping to secure footage he could sell to news outlets. In this clip, New York mental-health counselor Carolyn Jenkins talks about her childhood experience of segregated buses.


[Osvaldo Padilla / Vimeo]

Sixty-year-old Texas Eyes, a disabled Texan grandmother and born-again Christian, favors rainy weather and computer games. She hesitated to write about the inauguration, but its emotional effect changed her mind:

Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember much of the atrocities people committed against those who were black. I well remember when they were forced to sit at the back of the bus. I remember that at the bus station we used at the time, there was a separate cafe clearly marked “Blacks.” I remember the same for the two water fountains in the building, as well as the restrooms. I remember the red caps who were always black and I remember asking my mother what it was all about. She explained to me that some people felt blacks were an inferior race and white people did not want to associate with them, drink after them, or use the same restroom. […] Mother also admonished me that “no one in the world, regardless of color, was better than me and that I was no better than anyone else.” […] I was about 5 years old at the time, I knew people (some in my own family) who used the awful “N” word. […] Even at that age if I came within speaking range with a black person I always said, “hello.” I didn’t realize how much trouble that black person could have gotten into for simply saying hello back. […]

So while I watched the inauguration on tv, I remembered Rosa Parks, the four little girls blown up in a church, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. […]

As I absorbed all I could on Obama’s special day and remembered how his race had to struggle to get to this point, just as they had to struggle every time they tried to reach any part of freedom, and I cried not just for them but for our whole nation.

That said, Texas Eyes is glad Barack is president not because he is black but because she likes his platform. She feels John McCain is an American hero but “more closely identified with what Obama was saying about the changes he would make.”

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Under New Management

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 11:29 am

President Obama has had a busy first few days in office. He’s made some changes. Oakland resident Stephen Coles, a typography enthusiast, celebrated a day early: he took this self-portrait on Monday’s MLK Day of Service.

Under new management t-shirt
[Stewf / Flickr]

Try this on for size: our full archive of Campaign ‘08 t-shirts.

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part IV

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 9:57 am

Julie Phillips is a writer and “aerial dancer” from Athens, Georgia. She’s also the features/art-and-entertainment editor for the Athens Banner-Herald — for which she shot some probutcool footage on her inauguration trip to DC. In this clip, a young woman and a girl from Atlanta explain what they liked about Obama’s speech.


[julie phillips / Vimeo]

To see other compelling probutcool testimonies — from a Montreal church group that travelled to DC — go here. The pastor’s tribute to the invisible civil-rights workers is memorable (about 4:20 minutes in).

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Inauguration Street Food

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 6:46 pm

There are tons of Flickr photos of DC street vendors selling inauguration memorabilia; but surprisingly few of food vendors. Ryan Guthridge — fan of Davids Lynch and Sedaris — took a good one. (We featured him previously here.)

Vendors selling food
[mister r / Flickr]

Ryan doesn’t indicate what they were cooking — but it does look like it was piping hot!

[Update 24 Jan 09: For a great old-timey popcorn stand on the Mall, click here.]

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part III

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 6:36 pm

Jim Karrels from the DC ‘burbs interviewed his two-year-old son Matthew on inauguration day. Matthew and his mom — who does a brief turn as Hillary Clinton (off camera) — talk about the animals Matthew would bring to the White House if he were president. Matthew never lets go of the flag while talking and eating. He salutes President Obama with it — and with a spoon.


[Jim Karrels / Vimeo]

Peter Nicks from Piedmont, California, is a professional documentary filmmaker. Normally he trains his camera on things like drug wars and Islam in America. On Tuesday, he turned it on his son, Paolo — who isn’t quite convinced that John McCain really lost.


[peter nicks / Vimeo]

To see more young punditry from earlier in the campaign featuring Peter’s articulate six-year-old daugher Karina (sp?), watch this.

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Behind the Scenes at the Inauguration

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 4:44 pm

Imagine the inauguration logistics. The signs and chairs and bleachers and other construction that had to go up. The seat heaters and lights that had to go in. The careful rehearsals. Here are a few scenes from the underbelly.

Hugh Grew, a TV producer from Oakland, California, worked on the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. And took a whole series of cool set-up shots. This one shows the pile of sound and other equipment that went into the event.

Sound equipment at Lincoln Memorial
[earmuffboy / Flickr]

Next up: part of the 7000-strong fleet of porta-potties, the biggest ever in the United States. Some were patriotic. Some came with helpful glow sticks. Many were used creatively. Here, Virginian Phil noticed their outer beauty on a square just off the parade route several days before the inauguration. (He’s a ballotvoxregular: here, here, here, and here.)

Portapotties at night
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

Phil also turned a mountain of trash into something rather compelling:

Mountain of trash
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

Trash that required a force of workers on clean-up patrol. Barry S, local photography enthusiast (and ballotvoxregular: see here and here), watched these men apparently picking up after the horses on the parade route.

Men cleaning up
[xtol7 / Flickr]

For which he felt they “deserved some props.”

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part II

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 2:48 pm

Ted Laszuk is a mid-to-late-20s American living in Tokyo, where he works for a big tech firm. This is his post-inaugural video. He talks about digesting huge political change after spending all of his adult years under the Bush administration. It’s a little late-night-rambly (again, time change!) but straight from the heart.


[Ted Laszuk / Vimeo]

Ted says, of his video, that it “doesn’t do justice to the feelings that I have about the inauguration, yet it is all I know to say. I’ll always remember where I was on this day, and never forget the overflowing joy that I felt.”

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Inauguration Security

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 2:24 pm

Fifty-eight federal, state, and local agencies lent the Secret Service a hand with security during the inauguration. There were DC Homeland Security mobile command units. Mounted police on the Mall. Snipers on roofs. Large camouflaged vehicles. And military on patrol and lining the parade route.

Occasionally the security forces appeared slightly overrun. As in this picture of two soldiers directing the crowd — taken by Shawn Scott, a Texan software developer living in DC.

Military directing large crowd
[geekycyberdad / Flickr]

On the other hand there was also this cop, and chances are people did what he asked them to do. Ballotvoxregular and radio marketer/producer Mike Lynch (see him featured here and here) took the shot.

Policeman at inauguration
[lynch_m_j / Flickr]

Mike may be in the crowd safely tucked behind the barrier reflected in the policeman’s glasses.

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Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 1:13 pm

Twenty-two-year-old ThisAMThisPM (aka Travers) grew up in a small Texas town and now lives in NYC. He went to DC to watch Obama become president, and at 6:08 pm on inauguration day, he read a letter to his unborn children about the significance — to him and to them — of the experience:


[ThisAMThisPM / Vimeo]

Travers says he writes his blog (and by extension created this video) as “a record of some of the happenings that touch the world, and my world, everyday.”

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Inauguration Headlines Abroad

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 12:26 pm

On Tuesday (or Wednesday, depending on the time change), many eyes around the world were trained on Washington and Obama. People watched in town halls and in offices. They read on subways and at cafes.

Mr Haydn was out in London on a night shoot and noticed late headlines advertising the first inauguration images.

Headlines in London
[Mr Haydn / Flickr]

A day or so later, Hugo in Paris assembled the French newspaper coverage:

Headlines in France
[h de c / Flickr]

Even Paris’s Virgin Megastore headlined Obama.

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Back in Chicago and Watching

Posted by Katherine | January 23, 2009 – 9:23 am

Chicagoans were out on the streets, too, watching their senator become president. Matt Maldre, a Christian artist, designer, and self-described goofball, took a picture of them decorated by snowflakes.

Crowd watching in Chicago
[spudart / Flickr]

It looks almost like confetti.

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The Inaugural Parade

Posted by Katherine | January 22, 2009 – 5:28 pm

Barry S says he might be the guy you see wandering around DC with “a camera the size of a Mini Cooper and lens that looks like a brass canon.” That equipment could explain how he got this great shot of the inaugural parade. The men appear to be a special attachment to the US Army Fife and Drum Corps. (See Barry featured here too.)

Parading military
[xtol7 / Flickr]

Arlington, Virginia’s Mike Lynch (featured here) was lucky enough to be stationed at a spot on the parade route where the Obamas left their limo to walk. This photo captures so much about the day: the President and First Lady themselves; the crowd; the police, military, and secret service; and the media right up in the Obamas’ faces.

Obamas walking parade route
[lynch_m_j / Flickr]

Phil (here! here! here!), another Arlington resident, but with heart in Philadelphia, caught the Biden family walking with their motorcade.

Bidens walking parade route
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

From up high on a bleacher near the White House, he looked down along the parade route:

Fish-eye view of parade route
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

If you squint, you can see the Capitol at the far end.

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Farewell, President Bush

Posted by Katherine | January 22, 2009 – 11:10 am

Philly-loving Phil, now officially a ballotvoxregular (you’ve met him here and here), zoomed way in to record George and Laura Bush leaving the Capitol after the inauguration:

Helicopter over Capitol dome
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

Justin Hamilton is a Texan public servant in DC. He likes reading and writing (and spinning records), but not arithmetic. From what looks like a warm indoor perch, he captured the helicopter ride in motion:


[Justin Hamilton / Flickr]

Knitter Imbrium (aka Marisa) has seen Sesame Street live and lives in mortal terror of bugs. She readily admits 98 other interesting things about herself. She’s also a “bleeding-heart liberal” who voted for Obama; but on inauguration day, she felt bad for President Bush.

I will be the first to say that George W. Bush was a bad President. He may even be a bad man.

But on a human-to-human level, I have a lot of empathy for the guy today. […]

I think - and this is based on scant information, since I don’t know the guy - that for all Bush’s terrible decisions, he didn’t act out of malice. I think he did what he thought was best. I think what he thought was best was wrong, but I think that he really does love his country. I think he had bad advice, I think he was ignorant about a lot of things that a President cannot be ignorant about, I think he was self righteous and petty…but I think he had good intentions. […]

Farewell, President Bush. I’m not sad to see you step down from the office of the President of the United States of America, but as one human being to another, I hope you find peace.

Imbrium says she is “perfectly comfortable holding two seemingly mutually exclusive opinions at the same time, without any sort of logical or psychological difficulty.”

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Inauguration Emotion

Posted by Katherine | January 22, 2009 – 10:06 am

Sylvie, a Los Angeles pharmacist (or maybe homecook, or maybe both), was on the Mall for the inaugural ceremony. She filmed Obama’s swearing-in and then a 360-degree view of the crazy mad flag waving, cheering, and chanting that ensued. My favorite moment: the chuckles during the bumpy oath.


[Soul Fusion Kitchen / Flickr]

Karon Flage is a site producer and photo blogger from Arlington, Virginia. She captured this emotion right after the oath of office. JustSayCheese, in a comment on the photo, says, “It’s funny, but some people think that we, as photographers, miss the main action. These are the priceless moments.”

Three people happy after swearing-in
[Karon Flage / Flickr]

Phil, also from Arlington, Virginia, observes very closely the world around him. (We featured him previously here.) During Obama’s speech, his view was somewhat blocked by this couple, so he turned it to his advantage and took their photograph:

Inauguration embrace
[philliefan99 / Flickr]

He calls his picture “embracing the change.”

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