Not Spencer: Hope vs. Fear in a Steel Cage Match For the Title

Today’s Not Spencer post is from  Cynicsgirl  from Suburban  Masquerade.  She did want to title this post using the following lyric from a Michael Penn song:  “I can’t hope for crying”, but then realized her thoughts were more angry, than sad.

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I remember the exact moment when I became disillusioned with the political process.  

It was November 1972.  Richard Nixon won the presidential election — by a landslide.   I was just 13 years old, but I knew that was wrong.   See, at St. Aloysius Elementary School, we students had held our own (mock) election.   Young, uncorrupted, naive, all of us — the girls, in their shapeless navy jumpers and peter-pan-collared white blouses, and the boys, in their clip-on ties and double-knit pants — cast our votes for President of the United States.   We had elected George McGovern.  

Eight years later, I’m old enough to actually vote…and along comes the Moral Majority.   (And I’m in the minority.)

As the years pass, politics seems to get dirtier.  Clinton is impeached for lying about blowjobs (which I think is icky-gross, but his own damn business.)     The Powers That Be manipulate the masses with fear, blur the separation of church and state, and question the patriotism of anyone who dares suggest that the emperor is unclothed.  

This country re-elected George W. Bush for chrissakes. How does that happen?     How Does That F*cking Happen?

One may gather that I’m a tad cynical about the political process.  

But then — something surprises me; something strong enough to make me cause an embarrassing scene at a family get-together; something I haven’t felt since…well…since I’ve legally been able to vote.

Hope.

I was just as suspicious of Barack Obama as I have been of any other politician – at first.   But I watch him closely as he navigates the primary, wins the nomination, and campaigns for president.   And I become more and more impressed.   While I would likely vote for a Democrat for president regardless (because I am an evil liberal – although technically an Independent until this past primary season) what impresses me about Obama is his obvious intelligence, his poise, and his attempts to focus his campaign on the substance of the issues.      

And he is a class act.   As superficial as that may sound, after eight years of the Good Ole Boy, the U.S.A. needs its leader to be someone who can inspire respect throughout the world, not have citizens of every other industrialized nation in the world rolling their eyes in disbelief.

John McCain lost my respect when he chose his running mate.   Whether Palin was his choice or was a calculation foisted on him (or something in between) his acceptance of her as his running mate shows a serious lack of judgment.   A blatant “I will ignore what is best for this country in a desperate attempt to win the presidency.”    

Still, Obama gives me hope.   The polls are promising. But I can’t let myself be optimistic.   Because ignorance keeps slapping me in the face.    

Two days ago, I received an e-mail from a retired gentleman who lives in the Southeast.     He’s a distant cousin with whom I’ve corresponded from time to time over the years while researching genealogy — and I’ve found him to be a personable and mentally sharp fellow.   Expecting a genealogy query of some sort, I was shocked to open his e-mail and find a call-to-action, full of half-truths, such as:   “…In addition to the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayres, Barack Obama has formed unsavory alliances with some of the most dangerous social misfits of modern times…” And this:   “With a liberal democratic congress, a liberal democratic president, liberal Supreme Court appointments, and no filibuster, we will rapidly become a socialist country.   When all of the illegal immigrants are declared eligible to vote, who do you think they will vote for in the next election? We must now make a decision between SOCIALISM or FREEDOM?”     (Oops, he forgot to take out the “?” after “freedom”, didn’t he?)

The e-mailed contained a link to USA Wake Up.org which he claimed opened his eyes.   What I saw there sickened me, especially considering my friend’s espousal.   (Went back right now for quotes, but that part of the site is currently disabled.)   It was a page of illogical fear-mongering fiction with the phrase “Socialist Barak Hussein Obama” repeated innumerable times.

Even more disheartening were the “Reply All” responses I received the next day.  One called Obama a “socialist fanatic” Another:   I know H—-   would not have said what he said unless he was sure of his facts and I stand with him.   I am an Independent Voter (unlike Bill Oreilly or Retired General Powell whom profess to be  an Independent/Republican, but we can tell otherwise).”  There was: “Vote the Bible.”    And: ” I am scared for the USA if Obama is elected. It is shame money and political parties elect our President.”  As well as: ” Thank God  there are  still a few of us AMERICANS who believe in FREEDOM.   For all others, if they are tired of living free, speaking free, working, walking, talking, shopping and practicing religious freedom, go ahead and vote for Obama.”   (Though somebody should tell them that in proper Palinese it would be “livin’   workin’ walkin’ talkin’ shoppin’ and practicin’.   You betcha.)   (Is it wrong of me to want a vice-presidential candidate to pronounce their “g”s?  Is it? )

How did our country get to this point of Us vs. Them?   Why is someone we disagree with not only wrong, but also Satan’s spawn?  

That’s that scares me.   Not socialism.   Not Obama’s middle name.   People who hate without cause or reason scare me.   People who justify their choices by demonizing the alternative scare me.  

And the political machine that would pull out the Giant Wrench of Fear from their toolbox to fix a broken campaign — that scares me the most. Because I’m afraid it will work.   Again.

I made a reference to “an embarrassing scene” earlier.   There are a few “core” Republicans in my life that I happen to love in spite of their political leanings.   They have their Right-to-Life beliefs, and I respect their right to believe as they wish (though I believe in Choice.)   And they have their giant bank accounts, and I suppose it is within their rights to want to keep those full of giant amounts of $$.  

The point is I don’t expect everyone to have the same belief system that I do.  Or to have as skimpy a bank account.   But I do expect a discussion of politics to be based on fact. And if, in the Year of Our Lord 2008, one can say (with a straight face) that G.W. Bush is a good president, quip about the “hotness” and “breath-of-fresh-air-ness” of Sarah Palin, and insult the injury by mocking Barack Obama’s ears…well, I am going to get pissed.   And shout a bit. Even if it embarrasses the in-laws.

If your fundamental beliefs align with that of the Republican party…feel free to vote that way, my friend.  But along with your vote for McCain, you will have to make peace with casting a vote for Vice-President as Novelty…a vote for Campaigns Based on Fear and Hate…a vote for Truthiness over Truth.  

Or, vote for Obama.   And make me believe in the political process again.

Cynicsgirl is a card-carrying member of the evil media,  although she has  secret aspirations of one day becoming both a  gadfly  and  a bon vivant.   She resides in the Eastern Suburbs of Philadelphia  (okay, it’s New Jersey)  with previous guest-blogger Radiocynic and their two nutritionally-deprived daughters.

  • http://www.merujo.com Merujo

    Well said, Cyn, and well written!

    So many things here resonate with me – and your thoughts on how we need a leader who can inspire respect is right on target. A couple of weeks ago, I said to a friend that I kinda wished that Obama would come out swinging a little bit harder at McCain, but that it would require a little more mud slung than we’d seen so far. And said friend reminded me that Obama wasn’t that kind of man, and he wasn’t going to stoop to that level.

    And he hasn’t. And despite my momentary desire for something less savory in the campaign, I respect him even more for remaining focused and decent and demonstrating you can come out on top and still keep your soul.

  • http://fortyninepercenter.blogspot.com/ Joey

    Great stuff.

    I really enjoyed your post.

  • radiocynic

    Nice. As usual, Cyn’s giving a more lucid and better-written voice to much of what I’ve been trying to say, too. Again it does come down to Senator Obama’s intelligence, poise, and ability to inspire and to lead — all rather subjective qualities, but exactly what we need to restore the standing of our country in the world community. And it comes down to hope vs. fear.

    The Obama team has maintained a steadiness in approach throughout this campaign, both in staying on-issue, and in keeping the unsavory mudslinging to a relative minimum, which again I attribute mostly to the man’s leadership, choices of advisors, and his seemingly calm and even-tempered demeanor.

    Contrast that with the bizarre gamut run by the Republican team. We witnessed a wild swing from no-brainer to almost-acceptable-option directly back to no-brainer (in more ways than one) — Before this whole campaign started, it seemed like this would be a Democratic landslide year, if only due to Bush-backlash. Yet we watched as the Republicans rather brilliantly chose a man who at least used to be known mainly as a moderate reach-across-the-aisle type. They seemed to reach out fervently to independents, and then even co-opted the “change” mantle that Obama started. It almost seemed briefly that a McCain presidency wouldn’t be so bad, at least being “not Bush”. But then in a sudden nutball turnaround freefall came the Palin thing. As if they suddenly realized they needed to swing far right. And with the far right suddenly on board came the increase in fearmongering and the prevalance of the haters. At least to me, it seemed a complete abandonment of the middle-ground that McCain seemingly used to represent. And, bottom line, a complete absence of control, or absence of judgment, or both, from the man at the top of their ticket.

  • Spencer

    I tell you – Obama’s steadfastness is sometimes hard to bear as McCain/Palin sink to new depths. It makes me want to stop watching.

    Sometimes you want a good counterpunch.

  • Spencer

    Or maybe even a sucker-punch.

  • http://www.merujo.com merujo

    Amen to that. Seriously, if I hear one more piece of slime about radical friend/terrorist pal/socialism/communism/Marxism… I would LOVE to hear Sarah Palin – with no coaching – define and compare socialism, communism, and Marxism. I would have to assume she would attribute these concepts to Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

  • http://cynicsgirl.blogspot.com Cyn

    Since I study at the Comedy Central School of Political Science…Stephen Colbert interviewed the Socialist Party Candidate for President the other day and (insert the name of the guy I should be googling but am too lazy to) was most adamant that Obama’s economic platform was not socialist. Of course the people who believe the socialist stuff most likely aren’t watching the Colbert Report in the first place, but I enjoyed the interview anyway.

    And I thought Obama did a nice job with Jon Stewart last night too, showing a sense of humor about the nonsensical stuff he’s been accused of.

    Personally, I’m glad that the Obama campaign has stayed (mostly) positive…and I would hope that a Democratic win would pave the way for more civilized campaigns in the future.

  • grace

    Cyn, I agree–I’m glad the Obama campaign has stayed mostly positive too. In fact, he is essentially delivering the death blows to the McCain campaign by rising above the sludgy fray. There’s more than one way to hit back. And it doesn’t hurt that McCain keeps punching himself in the face.

    I just keep reaching new levels of wonder and awe as I watch this election unfold, because after two Bush victories I never thought I would see the voting public side with reason and intelligence again. I certainly did not think the Right would ever bail on one of their own candidates because she was unprepared and unqualified! It’s all so… correct!

  • radiocynic

    Yeah, gotta say I’d rather he stays above the fray with few obvious counter-punches, as I feel that shows a greater strength.

    And yes, cautious optimism is unavoidable given that intelligence actually seems to be leading in this country, even over closed-mindedness, bigotry, tastelessness and fear-mongering! Though if this “Bradley effect” bullshit actually does pan out even to a moderate level, I’ll have to be back to fighting the pessimism.