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.
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.
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.