Please Consider the Following
I feel like I'm really pushing my luck with all the political and/or inflammatory posts lately, but as election day nears, more and more items are catching my eye that seem to be worth risking a fight. I was steered to the latest such item by Andrew Sullivan; it's a blog ostensibly written by an 82-year-old Texas woman. (I say ostensibly because some of her commenters have raised the possibility that the 82-year-old "Helen" is merely a persona adopted by someone who wants to express a particular point of view.) Regardless of Helen's true age or identity, though, she is an eloquent and entertaining writer with a refreshingly crusty, no-nonsense, and unabashedly partisan attitude. I found today's entry particularly good, notably this passage:
If you are undecided - and I am at a complete loss for how you could be - please consider the following:
Which party has been screaming terrorist, socialist, Marxist, murder him and kill him… and which party has been talking about hope and unity.
Which party has been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you everyday for the past two weeks hoping to scare you into thinking that there is an Un-American part of the country… and which party has been saying that there is no red America and no blue America but only the United States of America.
Which party thinks war is the answer to everything… and which party has suggested that maybe we need to sit down and talk this out to see if peace is possible.
Which Presidential candidate just gave a speech accusing Barack Obama of delaying the World Series game. I mean of all things. In fact, that is a lie. But my god, that is the McCain talking point for the day? That’s a small thing I know, but when Harold hears something on TV about sports, that’s a big thing in our house. So he checked. It was a lie. But McCain is counting on you to not check to see if he was telling the truth. He is counting on Americans to be fat and lazy. And as silly and ridiculous as that little lie is… what more do you need? He will lie to you to get your vote.
So tell me again why you are undecided?
Oh yes I forgot. The terrorists are going to get us.
Folks, I’m tired of living in fear. Life is too short. How about we try hope and optimism again and see how that works. It created the greatest nation in history and the world is better for it.
I've been playing coy here on the blog about who I voted for the other day because I didn't want to have a debate about it -- when you grow up knowing you're the one person in the room with a different opinion than everyone around you, you tend to keep your mouth shut unless you're spoiling for an argument, which I usually am not -- but I'm sure my regular readers long ago figured it out anyhow. Yes, kids, I voted for Barack Obama. And a big part of the reason I voted for him is because of what Helen wrote up there. Because I'm sick of the Karl Rove mentality that divides us into "good Americans" and "bad Americans," into "patriots" and "traitors," and then tries to manipulate our basest, ugliest instincts for the crassest of reasons, to score political points. The America I believe in, the one that was founded on the better angels of our nature, our aspirations to rise above our flaws and settle our disputes for the benefit of all, isn't the one we've been living in recently. I'm not sure if I've ever lived in that America, actually, since Vietnam was already raging and Watergate was on the horizon when I was born. But damn it, I want my America back, the one I learned about from Schoolhouse Rock cartoons as a kid. I want the words "E Pluribus Unum" -- out of many, one -- to have at least as much resonance with my fellow citizens as "In God We Trust," if not more. I'm not talking about policy differences or Democrats vs. Republicans or whether one is religious or not. I'm talking about what I think are the most important words our founding fathers ever placed on paper: "We the People."
Now, I'm not naive enough to think that Obama is going to somehow undo decades of strife and magically bestow my ideals on the nation simply by getting elected. In fact, if he does win, there's almost certainly going to be a lot more ugliness from those who cannot and will not accept him, whether it's because they ignorantly think he's an al Qaeda sleeper agent or a raging socialist or -- and you know who you are -- because he's a black man. Hell, Bill Clinton's presidency was hobbled from the beginning because his opponents couldn't accept that their man lost; he didn't even have to contend with the thorny issue of race. (No, he just had issues of sex and class, which are almost as bad.)
But you know what? All of those concerns about Obama's race and religion and true motivations are based on fear. And I am also sick of being afraid. No, more than that... I am sick of being told I am supposed to be afraid. And, as Helen says, there's one candidate who's been trying to make us afraid, and one who has not. There's one candidate who might move us toward my vision of America, and one who most assuredly will not. I voted for the one who talks more about unity than fear.
And, of course, for the one whose platform and policy goals best match my opinions. Hey, I may be an idealist, but that doesn't mean I don't pay any attention to ideology. I am a self-proclaimed social liberal, after all.
In any event, have a look at Helen's blog (it's actually supposed to be a two-person blog, co-written by Helen's lifelong friend Margaret, but Helen seems to dominate). It's definitely worth your time, just to see how it is when you're no longer as concerned with propriety as you are with being honest.