in case you're still undecided

Here in 'rado we have to caucus. I would feel a lot more comfortable if I could just go and place my vote somewhere rather than going somewhere and standing in a group with other people *shudders* so that I can be counted. But I'm still gonna go. I must.

My friend T pointed me to a really great op-ed piece by Michael Chabon (he of Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay fame) about why people should vote for Obama. I pulled out my two favorite paragraphs, but you should really read the rest of the piece here. If nothing else, the writing is stunning.

Because ultimately, that is the point of Obama's candidacy -- of the hope, enthusiasm and sense of purpose it inspires, yes, but more crucially, of the very doubts and reservations expressed by those who pronounce, whether in tones of regret, certainty or skepticism, that America is not ready for Obama, or that Obama is not ready for the job, or that nobody of any worth or decency -- supposing there even to be such a person left on the American political scene -- can be expected to survive for a moment with his idealism and principle intact.

The point of Obama's candidacy is that the damaged state of American democracy is not the fault of George W. Bush and his minions, the corporate-controlled media, the insurance industry, the oil industry, lobbyists, terrorists, illegal immigrants or Satan. The point is that this mess is our fault. We let in the serpents and liars, we exchanged shining ideals for a handful of nails and some two-by-fours, and we did it by resorting to the simplest, deepest-seated and readiest method we possess as human beings for trying to make sense of the world: through our fear. America has become a phobocracy.

And then there's this paragraph which sums up, oh so aptly, how I feel about this election:
But the most pitiable fear of all is the fear of disappointment, of having our hearts broken and our hopes dashed by this radiant, humane politician who seems not just with his words but with every step he takes, simply by the fact of his running at all, to promise so much for our country, for our future and for the eventual state of our national soul. I say "pitiable" because this fear of disappointment, which I hear underlying so many of the doubts that people express to me, is ultimately a fear of finding out the truth about ourselves and the extent of the mess that we have gotten ourselves into. If we do fight for Obama, work for him, believe in him, vote for him, and the man goes down to defeat by the big-money machines and the merchants of fear, then what hope will we have left to hold on to?

I have been reluctant to get involved or get excited or even really pay too much attention because I'm afraid to pin my hopes on a candidate only to have them smashed to pieces on the rocks that are the heads of the American public. If this election goes badly, i.e. not the way I want it to, I will be so disillusioned that I don't know if I'll be able to take it.

At any rate, even if you don't want to vote for Obama, you should get out and vote today. If your state is part of Super Tuesday. Don't be one of those people that thinks it doesn't matter. This is actually one time when your vote will count and make a huge difference.


Kate T-C said...

I suppose I'm cynical (surprise surprise) but whenever I hear somebody gushing about how this one thing (a toaster, a car, a president) is going to make my life so much better, I just hear the guy from Princess Bride: "Life is pain, your highness. And anybody who says otherwise is selling something."

And, ouch, that bit about the heads of the American public being rocks kinda hurts. So anybody who has a different opinion than you is just stupid? It's totally fine to get excited about something, to hope for something, and to work towards something. But saying that anybody who hopes for, dreams for or works for something other than what you want is just stupid is, well, I think it's mean and short-sighted.

Sorry. You started posting about politics. I felt a need to respond. I hope nobody breaks your heart, and I hope you never get so disillusioned that you can't take it any more.

d said...

i tend to hyperbolize. it makes the story more exciting. but, i also have to say that that's sort of the point of having a strong opinion about something—that anyone who disagrees with you is, while not stupid necessarily, wrong. right?

and, the american public did vote w into office. not once, but twice. and look at how wrong that decision was.

i love democracy. i hate our political system - the two parties, the electoral college, campaign financing. i think, very often, that the best person for the job doesn't get elected because these three things get in the way.

and, like i've said many times, i have no problems with someone who disagrees with me. i think healthy debate is a cornerstone of any good relationship, but that still won't make me stop believing that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. unless they can point me to a better way, my opinions on things will always be what i believe is right.

it takes me a while to reach decisions on things, but once i do, i'm pretty steadfast.

d said...

plus, i'll say this: after the last two elections, i have very little faith that americans want to do what's best for us. and, yes, what i believe is best for us may differ from what you believe is best for us, but, again. i will always believe my opinions are right, otherwise why have them.

i'm also not saying i can't be swayed and that i'm closeminded about other ways to do things, but like i said, i don't form my opinions lightly and so, once i do, i feel i've reached what's right. for me. that's all any of us can do really.

Kate T-C said...

Oh I understand the need for hyperbole in certain contexts, and blogging is absolutely one of them.

I think what bothers me is elitism in all of its forms. I spend my days with Enviro-Nazis who feel that anybody who doesn't bike to work every day is stupid. Or who use leaf blowers are stupid. Or who don't live exactly the way they do, yep, are stupid.

I agree that one of the fundamental problems with any society often arises out of a polarity that is self imposed by the populace. Right now, in the US, we have this culture war between liberals and conservatives. Liberals think conservatives are all stupid, uneducated, thoughtless rednecks. Conservatives think liberals are all elitists that want to impose what they think is best on everybody else.

I think we could come up with a lot better solutions to our problems if we were all willing to respect each other and our differences. I know it's difficult for me, as a middle class white girl in Colorado to have any concept what it's like to be a poor man in rural Georgia. Or to run a huge business and know that thousands of people's livelihoods depend on my ability to keep the business afloat. Or to be a soldier or family member of a soldier in Iraq. So if somebody lives in a different situation than I do, and has different priorities than I do, I don't fault them or disrespect them for that.

It's good to have your own opinions and it's fine to think you're right and defend yourself against attacks. But defend yourself with respect for the other guy too. Because, regardless of your opinion, we are both part of the American public. As are Mark and Ann and all of our friends and family. And if they deserve respect, I think all of the "American Public" does too. Even the ones that voted for W, for whatever reasons they had.

I suppose you weren't expecting the lecture today. I always wonder how annoying these long comment soap-box posts are for people. Just trying to put a little bit of what's inside by brain out there for other people I guess. Isn't that what you wanted? :)

d said...

well, i don't know about wanted, per se, but i certainly welcome the discourse.

i don't know if i can agree with you that all of the american public deserves respect. i know a lot of people out there who don't care who they trample on as long as they get what they want. yes, there are definitely individuals out there in the american public who deserve respect, but as a whole, i think we've done a lot of very bad things and not very many good to make up for them. which makes it hard to give respect.

that may be extremely cynical on my part and maybe i'm not seeing the forest for the trees or whatever, but lately, i haven't had a lot of respect for the people we chose to represent us. and by extrapolation for the people who chose those people.

do i think all conservatives are stupid? not at all. do i think they have their priorities in the wrong order? definitely.

anyway, we'll just talk ourselves into circles about this so i'll just end with saying, i respect you and your right to have a different opinion than me.

how's that?

Kate T-C said...

Works for me! :)

d said...