Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ad Nauseum

I’ll never forget how angry I was, last election.

It was 2004. T-Town Girl and I were watching the election results in a bar, a dive bar about half a block from our apartment. At first, the night looked promising—like Kerry MIGHT squeeze out a victory—and then it became clear that Bush was going to win, and we started doing shots of tequila.

Anyway.

The real emotion I remember feeling—-besides anger—-was a complete sense of helplessness, disillusionment, disorientation. I so strongly believed one thing—and it turned out that most of the US, or at least 54% of it, believed something else. I’ll never forget my friend Maria’s quote from her own blog at this time. “I thought, terrible budget deficit, terrible job market, thousands dying in Iraq over a government COVER-UP about WMD that was NEVER THERE, I thought, of course, we’ll THROW Bush out in 2004! Right? Guys? Hello? This thing on?”

That was how liberals felt, at the time. “Is the rest of the country even LISTENING to what I’m listening to?” we thought.

And of course, they weren’t. They weren’t reading the Washington Post. They weren’t listening to their gay friends fight battle after battle with the healthcare system because their partner had died and said gay friend, partner to the deceased for FIFTEEN YEARS, longer than MOST STRAIGHT MARRIAGES, had no legal standing whatsoever and couldn’t even attend the funeral. They weren’t attending Hempfest. They were sitting at home, worrying about how to put food on the table, worrying about how they were going to afford college, worrying about their mortgage rate that had suddenly jumped to 28% and how is that even possible, hello? Is this mike on? Is anyone listening to me?

And even I can see at a glance that the liberal concerns are rather high end. Death comes to us all, and it sucks terribly, but fighting for gay rights and attending Hempfest is way, WAY, less important than making sure your town has a store that sells stuff that you need (i.e., Walmart) and making sure the government cares enough about your family to evacuate you in case of a hurricane.

The liberals saw it this way: “Say what you want about social values. Forget those. Bush has dragged our country down into a cesspool of debt and despair, and at least Kerry will be different! Also, his social values happen to be way better than yours and you should really see the light.

The conservatives, I assume, saw it this way: “We can’t change leaders mid-course. We have an effort in Iraq that we have to finish, the only thing that’s going to help our budgets now is the tax cuts that Bush is promising, and for God’s sake, I can’t squeeze out any more money, we have to cut taxes, and what the hell are you doing fighting for gay rights when my family can't EAT? Also liberal social values are basically hedonism and Bush happens to support mine.

(Conservatives, did I mis-state? Please, send me a paragraph of how you felt in 2004, it would be awesome to read and post.)

And so we're stuck, in this mish-mash of refusals to compromise, hate, and fear. And how in the WORLD can I blame conservative voters for voting their social values when that's all that I am doing? I mean, as a bleeding heart liberal, its never before occurred to me to do otherwise--reproductive rights and gay rights are WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD, THANK YOU. But in all seriousness, as I get older—-and meet more men and women who serve in the military—-it occurs to me that the President is the Commander in Chief, before all else. And in this part of his or her office, McCain’s experience and chops really appeal to me. But on the other hand, part of being a good president is judgment, and I have to say I trust Obama’s judgment far more because I agree with his social values, and so I assume that any decision he makes on the world stage would be a decision that I would make. But is that necessarily a good thing? I mean, I don’t have any experience in world politics whatsoever.

Still, so far, I’m convinced I can’t vote for McCain. A man who doesn’t know his own views on contraception and can’t check his email gets no love from me. Although I admit this just shows how skewed my own priorities are. A better excuse, and the one I will trot out publicly, is that I can’t trust the presidency to PALIN, of all people, in case McCain dies.

1 comment:

l-t said...

Same story, from CNN's conservative Glenn Beck:

"She has no experience!"

It's fair to assume that Barack Obama believed he was qualified to be in the White House when he announced he was running for president. At that point, he had been a U.S. Senator for 767 days. When Sarah Palin was announced as a vice presidential candidate, she had been the governor of Alaska for 634 days.

While I'm sure those extra 133 days were filled with personal discovery, I can't imagine anyone seriously trying to make the case that Obama is experienced and Palin isn't.

Unless, of course, you're Matt Damon, who said a Palin presidency would be a really "scary thing" because she has been "governor of Alaska for...for less than two years!" (Damon originally expressed his presidential preference for Obama in December 2006, when he had been a senator for less than two years.)

More importantly, Palin's career has been filled with executive experience. She's the only one of the four in this race who has run a business, town, and/or state (a state that gives her crucial energy experience in the middle of an energy crisis).

When Obama's campaign complains that Palin would be one heartbeat away from the presidency, they should consider that their candidate would be zero heartbeats away.