Thursday, January 31, 2008
Meaningless Blog Endorses Obama!
There I said it. I will admit that I have been sitting in front of my monitor for no less than five minutes gathering the nerve to type those words and begin this post. The reason for that is that I have not always been comfortable discussing politics. To me, it's a very complicated, confusing, challenging thing and it's difficult to ever feel like you are standing on solid ground. Just when you feel like you know who you are and what you believe, you're presented with a different perspective and your equilibrium begins to sway as if you were drunk and the room started spinning. It doesn't make it any easier to brave a political discussion when you know there is a good chance you will be belittled by someone with an opposing view. Just today, one of my oldest and best friends asked me if I was ready to "grow up" and support Romney and the Republicans. I'm very immature, ya see. I have no doubt that he's been anxiously awaiting this post so that he can attack any point I make with his signature brand of superiority and smugness.
It's the age we're living in. Of course, throughout history there has always been great passion in both political parties and fierce, vehement disagreements, but the difference these days, I feel, is that there is a fundamental lack of respect between people on a level much bigger than politics. We live in the age of sarcasm and spite. It's a media-saturated world with countless talk shows irresponsibly sensationalizing and slanting everything in the name of ratings until there's not much left but a cesspool of misinformation and propaganda. Couple this environment with the speed of information and communication and, I believe, people often rush to judgment. They form rigid opinions about things they actually know nothing about and don't take the time to seek more information or, God forbid, wait for it. What's worse is that they come to a place where anyone who doesn't agree with them must be an idiot and most certainly an enemy. We live in a time when people kill each other over disagreements on sports. The climate for political discussion isn't quite that dangerous, but it's every bit as volatile with a scathing hiss taking the place of a gun or a fist.
Then I realized something while playing softball. I'm not a great player, I have less experience than most of my friends, but I love and am fascinated by the game as much as any of them. Sometimes I play okay, sometimes I play like shit. Sometimes I play scared. I noticed that there are games where my demeanor is held captive by a fear that I am not good enough to be playing with the other guys on my team. I get nervous and I miss the whole point of the game. God, I am really dragging this out. All I'm trying to say is that I realized that even the best player on our team pops out, makes errors, and has a bad game. No matter what cleats their wearing or how confident they portray themselves, nobody out there is infallible. Not even close. Why not just be loose, do my best, and take the good with the bad? I feel the same way about politics.
As long as I try to be informed about what I am saying, stay reasonable and humble, and always show respect for contrasting views, the cynics can pretty much go fuck themselves because if our discussion disintegrates into a personal level or one devoid of any value, it will be a problem of them being an asshole more than me being an idiot. When the climate is respectful and open, politics is a fascinating animal to discuss.
So here's how I feel and what I believe (as of now), folks. Take it or leave it, but just don't be hatin'...
I believe that the bitter partisan divide of recent times is destructive to American politics and to the country as a whole. It's beyond the point of differences in philosophy; it's a personal battle that only delays any real progress for our country and, due to the circumstances I described above, bitterly divides us as Americans. I believe that Barack Obama is the candidate most likely to begin to bring the country together again. This is a pillar of his campaign and his image as a politician. I know I sound like I am reciting from his campaign literature and might start to sound like Tom Cruise at a Scientology dinner. What can I tell you? I'm drinking the Obama Unity Kool-Aid and I think it's a crucial flavor.
This is where Adam says, "Yeah, right. Who better to bridge the partisan divide than the National Journal's Most Liberal Senator of 2007?" This is where I answer, simply, Yes. Who better?
I believe that it's time for universal health care and I like Obama's plan better than Hillary's. I disagree with her idea of mandating it for every single citizen. That's going too far in my opinion. Making a national plan available to all citizens is a better option. No, Adam, I am not a Socialist. I understand the Republican/Conservative opposition to universal healthcare and I respectfully disagree.
I believe it is time to end the war in Iraq and realign our efforts in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Barack and Hillary have virtually the same plan for this, but I give the nod to the guy who spoke out against it before it ever began. I think sound judgment, while a vague idea, is the single most important quality a President must have. What I perceive to be his wisdom on this vital issue of the Iraq War convinces me that he is the better choice to lead us in terms of these situations. More than any other issue at stake in this election, I respect the Republicans' view on the issue of the Iraq War. There was an episode of "Meet the Press" a few months back where John Kerry and John McCain debated the issue and it was an intriguing, arresting debate. I've watched it three times and I'm still not convinced that my opinion is the right one. It will definitely give me pause when the general election rolls around, but when it comes down to it, I will have to make a choice and as of now, I side with the Democrats.
That being said, I believe that Barack Obama is not only the best candidate to engage John McCain in this crucial aspect of the debate, but is the only Democratic candidate with a chance to win against McCain overall. I've heard it at least a dozen times from a wide array of political experts and pundits, there is one candidate who would unite the currently fractious Republican Party, it's Hillary Clinton. I don't mean to contribute to the Us vs. Them mentality that I hate so much, but I think it is fair to say that if you want a Democrat in the Oval Office, to end the war let's say, Barack Obama is the better choice to oppose McCain or Romney. Hillary touts her experience, and rightfully so, but it's that same experience that would have the Republican party licking its collective chops at the chance to oppose her in an election for the presidency. Fair or not, I believe it's the reality of the situation.
Even if I am wrong, even if Hillary were to win the Presidency, what state would the political landscape be in? I don't think it would be much different than it is now, with both parties entrenched in their own bunkers, lobbing grenades of petty bickering at each other while the grass of American prosperity browns and dies in the middle. I believe we need a leader who does not relish in the political warfare the way, I feel, Hill and Bill do.
If my first few paragraphs were not evidence enough, let me say that I have had a cynical attitude about politics in general for years. Part of my reluctance to talk about it was for the reasons I already described, but another aspect of it was my lack of belief in it in general. I felt like it really didn't mean anything. No one was trustworthy. They spoke in soundbytes and told you exactly what they're many comprehensive polls told them you wanted to hear. I felt like they ran for all the wrong reasons and often got elected for all the wrong reasons. Barack Obama is a candidate who cracks that veneer of distrust in politics and government and allows a little bit of hope (yeah, I said it) to shine through. I don't know if he'll be able to change anything about the lobbyists and the swiftboating and, frankly, all the bullshit. I don't know, maybe it's a job too big for one man, even if that man is the President. I don't know that Obama's message about change, unity, and hope isn't a tweaked version of the same politics that made me so sick. It could very well be the political equivalent of the the guy who picks up girls by saying "I don't know any good pickup lines so I just decided to come over, say hi, and be myself." Obama's not having a line could very well be his line. I'm in no way naive to that possibility. My feeling is that I'm ultimately taking the same risk with any candidate so why not go with the guy who at least appears to have the vision and the integrity I am looking for?
I was going to dig into my negative perception of Hillary/Billary, but I've rambled so long already and really, there's not much value in it.
I realize that my reasons for supporting Obama have been what Aaron Sorkin might refer to as "smoke-filled, coffehouse crap" which is to say it has not been a detailed account of why I support Obama on the economy, immigration, the environment, etc. Which is not to say I am not familiar with his stances or in agreement with them for the most part. I certainly vote issues first. I just feel like that's not what I wanted to say tonight. There are issues at stake in this election that just don't fit in charts and blurbs and are not easily supported by links and quoted statistics or studies. Really, I just wanted to say what I feel about politics and why I am supporting Barack Obama. I'm not trying to sway anybody, I am just compelled, for the first time, to share. And now I have. Thanks for listening.
Sheesh, did I ramble on or what? In the interest of lightening things up a bit, allow me to share what else will be happening on Super Tuesday besides the whole primary/caucus thing.
My friends, on Super Tuesday, I go under the knife. I have a ganglion cyst on my left wrist and they are going to cut the sucker out. For the record, I am a righty so we can skip the masturbation jokes, folks. I think "ganglion cyst" has to be the nastiest-sounding name for something so innocuous.
The Bad News:
--No softball or weightlifting for four weeks. I suppose it's good to go back to square one sometimes.
--The potential for pain and discomfort during recovery.
The Good News:
--I have a prescription for Vicodin.
--I will also have a tape of the whole procedure. It's orthroscopic surgery so we will all get to see the inside of my hand and wrist joint! Woo hoo!
--I'll get to watch the results of Super Tuesday come in from the comfort of my own couch. Assuming I am able to stay conscious.