In light of tomorrow’s debate, frequent commenter RadioCynic: a radio announcer, musician, blogger, Michael Penn and Aimee Mann fan is chiming in with his electoral thoughts.
Big thanks to Spencer for this opportunity, as I never have the time to blog regularly, yet remain incapable of shutting up.
I’d like to speak to moderates and undecideds. My qualification to do so might be that I spent much of my life considering myself a left-leaning moderate – always a “trying to see both sides”, mediating, conflict-avoidant type. Although – no big surprise – the intolerant, unreasonable or embarrassing qualities of many conservatives have gradually pushed me far further into liberalism.
In choosing a political candidate, there are two overriding, almost equally important factors – a candidate’s stand on actual issues, and the voter’s visceral reaction to the candidate’s persona.
Please, do research the issues. Politically-neutral websites like votehelp.org – a little flawed, but one of the easiest – are great for cutting through spin and seeing actual stands, along with showing voting records on specific issues important to you. One can also find out if a candidate has mixed feelings or a mixed record on certain issues, which for many moderates is the “right” answer! (Further bearing out my moderate credentials, the votehelp.org quiz has shown me 62% in agreement with some guy named John McCain … while 95% with Barack Obama.) See how you compare.
But even more overwhelming in this election is our need to restore intelligence and reasoned thought to our executive branch, and through that, begin to repair the damages to the world’s perception of the US. While I still give President Bush the benefit of the doubt that he couldn’t possibly be as dumb as he seems, I’m still no less flabbergasted that our country could have possibly (well, barely) elected him twice. My only reservation about Senator Obama, which was his relative lack of experience, is outweighed by his consistent personification of just the intelligence and reasoned thought that we need to restore respect to the leadership of our country.
I first started realizing my drift to the left during the Reagan era. (Yeah, I’m old… Just consider it “wisdom” or something and go with it.) Despite his “great communicator” moniker, I always found him just plain hokey, fake and condescendingly folksy… Not necessarily dumb, but a bit of an empty vessel, one of the first to “communicate” mainly through cutesy sound bites. Hmmm, yes… folksy… and in touch with “Joe Six-Pack”, perhaps. The predecessor to similar “qualities” in Senator McCain and Governor Palin. They might take that as a complement, but it’s not really meant that way. (I’ll avoid talking in detail about Sarah Palin, lest I have no chance of maintaining the approximate 1000 words that Spencer asked for. Darn right that we’re bein’ very blessed to be not goin’ there, since, y’know, it’d be a heckuva discussion, you betcha. Aaargh.)
But just really quickly… as a public service to help us prevent repeating mistakes of the past, I may have developed a three-part litmus test to instantly and easily identify a dumb politician. And though research is ongoing, I suspect it may just work for instantly recognizing dumb people in general:
1. Consistently uses the pronunciations “Eye-raq” and “Eye-ran”.
2. Consistently and somewhat jingoistically uses the term “America” in place of “United States of America” (ignoring the other 24 countries in North/Central/South America to infer that we’re the only one that counts.)
3. One word, which could likely encompass the whole test in and of itself – “nucular”.
When, by the way, did intelligence and “elitism” become such a bad thing? (I’m conveniently ignoring the classism portion of the definition here — I myself don’t necessarily have the education, or certainly the economic wherewithal to qualify.) But shouldn’t we all be striving to be “elite”, at least when it comes to intelligence and good taste, rather than purposefully dumbing everything down? I don’t want my president to be “Joe-six-pack-hockey-mom-bowler” that I want to have a freakin’ beer with. (You know what, I don’t even drink beer, okay? Maybe I might want a candidate I can drink a good vodka, a great cup of strong coffee or even a fine elitist red wine with. So sue me.) Bottom line, no matter what, I want a president who is WAY smarter than me.
But nothing has gone further to ensure my liberal lean than the closed-minded, entitled, mean-spirited and oft-bigoted writings and quotations of some of the scions of the far right, like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Rick Santorum.
So it was good ol’ Mr. Santorum that removed my last shred of doubt that I’d be supporting Senator Obama. This past August, Mr. Santorum wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer, lambasting Senator Obama’s “untethered values”. What he managed to do throughout his entire haughty, holier-than-thou, far-right article, was point out to me that Senator Obama’s values are so very close to my own.
“…in a 2004 interview … Chicago Sun-Times’ religion reporter Cathleen Falsani … asked the candidate, â€˜What is sin?’ Obama’s response: â€˜Being out of alignment with my values.’ â€˜My values’! I know many supporters see him as some kind of messiah, but what about God’s values?…”
Seems Mr. Santorum never considered the abstract concept that a religious person’s own values might be based on striving to match their concept of what God’s values might be, which by the way, most reasonable humans wouldn’t presume to know with certainty.
“… Another insight into Obama came when … asked about marriage. â€˜I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,’ he said. â€˜As a Christian, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union.’ Sounds good, but wait. Obama opposes a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. He opposes similar attempts at the state level. He has pledged to support judges that would redefine marriage from the bench. Obama recently wrote a homosexual-rights group that â€˜equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle …That’s why we have to repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act. That’s why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws.’ … “
Yep, that one sounds good to me, too. Gay people’s marriages have never diminished my own heterosexual marriage one bit, and it can be left to religious institutions to decide if they want to religiously “sanctify” them or not.
And the kicker was about abortion – admittedly such a sensitive topic to so many people. I personally strongly support a woman’s right to choose (as does Senator Obama,) but I truly respect the opposing viewpoint, and most importantly, I hold a concept that Senator Obama summed up perfectly for me (again presented with disdain by Mr. Santorum.) —
” … Obama was asked at what point a baby gains human rights. His answer: â€˜That question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.’ The most debated moral issue of our time, and he feigns doubt before an audience of evangelical Christians …”
Welp, yeah. But not “feigning” doubt. It’s admitting honest doubt on a moral question that NO ONE on either side of this issue truly knows the answer to. Straightforward honesty. Because it IS above all of our pay grade, and wow, what a great answer.
Such intelligence, wit and honesty, and indeed even a willingness to admit when one does not have an answer, certainly appeals to my moderate “seeing both sides” tendencies.
So join us, fellow moderates (or um, y’know, liberals who used to be moderates.) Get the facts, embrace your intellect, and support Senator Obama. It’s never been more important.
— “radiocynic” is a Philadelphia radio announcer and musician, residing in an annoyingly reddish section of the very blue state of New Jersey. —
The “Not Spencer” series will continue tomorrow with a post from the other Howard of nonbreakingspace.com fame.