News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reston: Ground Zero in the presidential elections, or just a place a reporter could get ice cream while talking to people? You be the judge

As we've all been reminded a zillion times, Virginia is a battleground state in this fall's presidential election, and some hippy political magazine from overcaffienated Seattle decided it might be a good idea to pull on its grungster fleece cap, metaphorically speaking, and sample the political zeitgeist at Reston Town Center. Hey, good plan, even though the last time someone tried a similar stunt, folks kept writing in savvy political choices like Dennis Kucinich and H. Ross Perot.

Reston, Va. -- If Virginia were a person, it would look a lot like Rod Markham, a federal contractor, retired from the Army, who's leaning ever so slightly toward Obama but is still of two minds about the presidential race.
And if Reston were a person, it would wear lots of earth tones, be slightly anal about following obscure rules and regulations, and eat at the Macaroni Grill three times a day. Anyhoo!
The part of Virginia that wants to go Obama is here in the northern tier that includes the Washington suburbs and the booming Dulles Technology Corridor, which has replaced downtown D.C. as the region's business center. So diverse is the area that some 100 languages are spoken at home by kids in Fairfax County public schools.
That's definitely been a big selling point of late! But what of this strange place, "Reston?"
I meet Markham in Reston Town Center, where there's a farmers market on Thursday evenings and concerts on Saturdays. Reston was founded in 1964, as part of the "new community" movement that was a forerunner of smart growth. Though you still have to take a bus to get between here and the closest D.C. Metro line, the Town Center does have an unusual amount of street life. On a weekday afternoon, people are sitting by the fountain and in outdoor cafes, reading or having coffee or, in Markham's case, a cup of chocolate ice cream from Ben & Jerry's down the street.
Awww, that's sweet. Just don't try taking photos!
Across the square, Paul Patton and his bike (pictured) are taking a little break. He's a musician, originally from Pennsylvania, and is volunteering part-time for Obama, the first candidate who's ever moved him to do that. Last week, they had him working a phone bank one night over the dinner hour -- an assignment he did not find easy. "I'm not really outgoing, but I was able to do it," he said, despite the weirdness of trying to keep a total stranger on the line while reading from a script and being distracted by the noise of a dozen other people reading from the same script. Patton was won over long ago, after reading Obama's two books, and hates that the knock against his candidate is that he's an elitist: "Average guys aren't supposed to become president!"
Instead, they can run for office in the tolerant town to our west. But Reston can't be completely full of evil, elitist liberals who want to officiate gay marriages between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden whilst on vacation in France, can it? Thankfully, no.
So, is there anybody around here who's voting McCain? Yes, but it's not easy being in the political minority, and when I do happen on a couple of Republicans, they decline to give their names. When I ask the woman what issues she's interested in, she replies, "Anything John McCain says. And that's all I have to say."
Well said. Well said.

No comments:

Post a Comment

(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).