Monday, September 5, 2011

Idle Musings on Politics

It's Labor Day, so I thought I'd labor to inform myself a bit more today about the various presidential candidates out there.  Since I already know quite a bit about the Democratic candidate for President in 2012 (been seeing him daily for quite a while now), I figured I'd better have a look-see at the Republican side as well, and then try to find out about everything else out there.

My inclinations are admittedly somewhat liberal, although I like to think that I try to temper those propensities with some good old-fashioned common sense.   

I'm actually an independent, and always have been.  So basically, I'm one of those sought-after people that everyone in all available parties is always allegedly trying to win over.

I think they're all going to have to try a bit harder.

I'm not playing hard-to-get.  Lately, I just find myself frequently thinking, "What the...?" every time I delve into the political arena.

I have friends who are Republicans, friends who are Democrats, friends who are Green, friends who are Socialists, friends who are Independent, and friends who are Libertarian.

We all get along just fine.  And they all offer interesting checks and balances on my own (often muddled) ideas and (occasionally ill-defined) opinions.  They give me a wealth of different perspectives on any single event.

I like that.

They don't spend time trying to "pray away" other people's homosexuality, or holding large-scale prayer meetings in general, although they do sometimes go to the church or the synagogue or the mosque.

They don't advocate jihad, under any circumstances. 

They are sometimes pro-choice, but not always, and even when they are anti-abortion, they acknowledge that there might be a medical necessity for it in certain instances.

They don't necessarily own guns, but when they do, they don't worry that the government is going to come seize their weaponry.  When I drop by unannounced, they don't greet me (or anyone else, for that matter) with the business-end of a rifle.

They aren't stockpiling flame-throwers in anticipation of The End of Days.

They pay taxes.  They don't own their own airplanes.  They don't mind security at the airport.

They have a reasonably cogent grasp of history and if they don't know something, they either admit it openly and shrug it off, or they look it up.  They don't just make things up to support their opinions. 

They don't mind immigration.  They like civil rights.  They don't seem to think we're being overrun by "illegals," and they realize that, in fact, you can't tell a legal citizen from an "illegal" just by looking at the person.

They have concerns about the economy, about overspending in government, about corruption, about foreign policy, about the stimulus (or the failure of the stimulus), about Wall Street, about banking reform.

On the Democratic side, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.  But we are now involved in more wars than we were when he took office.  He hasn't kept promises made about the environment and the economy, and he hasn't addressed issues of corporate accountability.

The deficit is beyond staggering.

I didn't like Bush, but I don't want to hear about him anymore.  If you take a job on the assumption that your predecessor was incompetent, you can't simply try to keep your job by insisting  that your predecessor was incompetent.

Wall Street is nowhere near anything like reform; Main Street still suffers. 

It is true that Obama has faced enormous obstacles; so have other Presidents.  That's why it's a tough job.  Obama bears the additional weight of being the first African-American President, though, and this isn't a small thing.  I don't think white Americans can possibly understand and recognize its significance, no matter how hard we try. 

Meanwhile, if I were a card-carrying Republican, I think I'd be contemplating the Japanese ritual of seppuku right about now.

You have an elderly ob-gyn who votes "no" on everything and who seems to think we should all just fend for ourselves, like everyone always used to do, because that's what the Constitution says.

You have yet another reasonably pretty Republican woman who looks, to my mind, a lot like the last reasonably pretty Republican woman who ran, but without the glasses.  She also brews a stronger cup of Tea.

You have a guy who publicly prays for The United States of America but who, on the issue of the incandescent light bulb, advocated nullification.  (He'd also like the state of Texas to secede, but only sometimes.)

You have a guy who was gone for over a decade, but now he's back.

You have the  former governor of Massachusetts.  Again.

I think leaders who want to appeal to a broad base of support need to inform themselves about the "other" histories and experiences that lie embedded within "the" American history and experience that we have all learned and paid attention to for so long.

We're a nation of multiple histories and many experiences.  We have to find a way to unify ourselves because of our diversities, not in spite of them.  I think we do that quite a bit in our own day-to-day lives.  I don't understand why we can't do it on a larger scale.

I think we need political leaders who can navigate contemporary settings and crises with a sense of the importance of context and nuance, and who can remain grounded in the moment-- not people who resort to arguments about history and precedent in order to emphasize the fact that they're "right."

I'm not sure any of the candidates out there right now have been able to do that to my liking.

So when it comes to my vote for 2012, right now, I'm still looking and listening and musing on the possibilities for the future.


  1. Interesting as usual.

    I think I am in the same boat. Nobody in the field on either side is doing it for me. I am officially 'not impressed'!

    On the Democratic side, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    ROTFL. I couldn't quite tell if you were counting that as a positive or if you were rightly pointing out what a travesty that award was. I still ponder how being the first black president is an act of peace? Unless you awarded it to the Americans who elected him.

    Obama bears the additional weight of being the first African-American President, though, and this isn't a small thing. I don't think white Americans can possibly understand and recognize its significance, no matter how hard we try.

    I disagree. I think we do understand. This post partisan president has been nothing but partisan and heck that's the way it's all ways been, even if he did promise a new way so that's par for the course. The real rub is, and I think more than partly responsible for the founding of the Tea Party, is the accusation used over and over again that if you disagree with the president you are a racist.

    Obama seems to be on course to replace Jimmy Carter as the worst president ever (with some very close competition from George W Bush), but somebody inspiring needs to step up. I'm not seeing it yet either.

  2. I really like an article by Brent Staples, "Black Men and Public Space." I think it offers an interesting way of thinking about the way in which black men inhabit public spaces and are perceived by the public. Although it was written in... the late 70's, I think?... I always read it and wonder how much of it is still relevant today. Much has changed, but there is still so much we need to remain aware of...

    I think the Tea Party was founded (this is simply my perception, so it may be wrong) on a concern about issues of fiscal responsibility and governmental representation. I think the baggage that has accompanied the movement it has been the idea that harkening back to that particular era of history necessarily entails a racist bias. It can, certainly, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily does.

    It also doesn't mean that the issues of fiscal responsibility and concerns about representation in government don't deserve to be addressed.


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