Friday, September 05, 2008

Stepping Back

This election cycle has got me burned out already.

So here's the thing. I think Sarah Palin is an interesting person. I can identify with her in some respects... working mom, trying to balance the needs of her kids with career. I can identify with the fact that she's unapologetically aggressive and that a lot of people probably judge her harshly for it.

The whole "woman" thing is -- and always has been -- a non-starter for me. I wasn't swayed in the same way that others were swayed by Hillary because I've never questioned the right or ability of women in general to do anything. I certainly don't question Sarah Palin's choices regarding family and career. It wouldn't even occur to me to think like that. If a woman wants to stay home to raise a family full time, I think that's great. If a woman wants to manage a career and a family, I think that's great too. True feminism has always been about creating choices, not dictating values.

Women who look at the Sarah Palin ticket selection and see it as some kind of nod to female achievement are really missing the point on this one, though. The contrived attempt to generate Hillary-like buzz among the double X demographic is a pretty cynical ploy... a gross manipulation based on political desperation. I'm not a Hillary fan by any stretch of the imagination but I'll give Hillary her due here... she worked her ass off to get to, and through, that primary, and the response she got from voters was not only earned, it was pretty organic. She just flat-out won them over. Contrast that with the calculated maneuver of McCain air-dropping Sarah Palin on the convention floor and giving her a speech to read. It's not the same achievement... it's not even close.

And that's really the biggest source of my disgust. The Republican reaction is just unbelievably sheeple-ish. I know I have made the sheeple accusation before but never -- ever -- has it been more glaringly obvious to me. Within 3 days the Republican base has made Sarah Palin their political symbol. Within 3 days they were introduced to a person they previously knew nothing about, listened to the McCain camp's spin on her, and decided she was fit to be the President of the United States. It's the most irresponsible, unbelievable thing I've ever witnessed in my life. The suspension of logic that's being asked of us in order to parlay Palin's career achievements into proof of presidential fitness is more than I can tolerate.

Now I know Obama is a relatively new arrival -- and I say relative only to compare him to the many 20-30 year career politicians out there -- but let's not forget that he's actually been out there proving himself to the American voters for quite a while. I, personally, have been watching Obama very closely for 4 years now. Every detailed policy statement, every hyped scandal (Rezko... Ayers... his crazy pastor-gate), every gaffe, every soaring rhetorical moment. I stood out by the Rock River with my family and listened to him speak to a crowd that was microscopic in size compared to the crowd in Denver. I have listened to him address congress to remind them of the significance of habeas corpus. I remember having conversations with my dad about the important death penalty legislation he passed in Illinois without even understanding at the time who Obama was.

Here is a candidate who has taught constitutional law, who understands and appreciates what he'll be defending in a way that Sarah Palin never will. He understands the law in general. He has worked within the same congress he'll have to work with as president. While he was making a name for himself in the Illinois Senate -- a pretty sizable, powerful, and tough legislative body -- Palin was making "executive decisions" in Wasilla, population 5, 470. A town 1/6th the size of Iroquois County in central Illinos. While he was getting himself a top-notch education (President of the Harvard Law Review is pretty damn impressive, no?), she was a sportscaster in Alaska. And while the Republicans suddenly find it funny to make fun of community organizers (like volunteering makes you a pathetic loser or something) Obama was out there doing work that was meaningful to the people who needed it. Those people may not have been important enough to make the work worthwhile to John McCain or Sarah Palin, but I'm sure they were grateful just the same.

Obama has been hammered as much as any political figure ever has been over the past 19 months. His family ties, his religious faith, his patriotism, his upbringing, his race, his experience, his fucking name. The media and the right wing -- hell, even the left wing -- have been relentless and yet he's managed to not only survive the scrutiny but capture the party nomination because, behind all the faux outrages and fear mongering, he's actually a stand-up guy. He's been vetted by the best (and the worst) and he's ready to lead.

People need to look a little harder to see through these nonsensical attacks on Obama. They need to look a little harder at the nonsensical hyping of Sarah Palin. They need to look a little harder at the choice we've been offered. Idealogues may still decide to vote for McCain, which is fine (maybe a little saddening) but at least they'll be making a decision through a clear lense.

McCain may be ready to lead but I don't really want to go where he wants to take us. And maybe Sarah Palin will be ready to lead someday... but not this day. So I'll just keep plugging away for Obama and hope for the best. Mostly I'm hoping that the people who fell for the lines thrown out by Bush-Cheney -- while they were openly mocking Al Gore and then John Kerry -- will stop for a minute and remember what that vote did to this country and the people in it before revving up their engines to put McCain-Palin in office under the same ridiculous schemes.

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