Carrying the torch: Obama ’08
It’s hard to admit, but I’m terrified about the upcoming election. I know, many of us are, especially the liberals who so desperately want Bush out of office, who want the democrats to regain power and attempt to undo some of the changes that are eroding our civil rights.
It is no small thing to write about politics on a public forum like this one – it is probably safe to say that my readership is primarily progressive liberals, but certainly not 100%. It is not impossible to get death threats.
Though I was raised by parents who are registered independents and who vote Green, who say the democrats are too conservative for them, who have been activists for decades, who believe in grassroots organizing and social change and that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, I have been often disillusioned with the political process in this country.
I grew up in Alaska, where the polls close last and we have three electoral votes. This means that as the polls closed around the country, my parents would watch the results roll in and would wait to vote, often until the president had already been announced.
Clearly, our votes really mattered.
I understand now that it was a political strategy – that they would be certain Alaska would not be any sort of swing state or tiebreaker so they could comfortably go vote for the third party. But at the time, it was confusing. I believed that voting was a key important part of a democratic process, that by not voting you’re showing apathy and disinterest, and the only way to contribute is to make your position known.
This is how I witnessed voting until I was 18 and began voting in my own presidential elections – two so far – 2000 and 2004. Which, as certainly you remember, were a disaster. 2000 did not help to restore my faith in the political process of this country. Hanging chads? Seriously? And what happened to all those missing ballots? Oh, they were found in the dumpster out back? Really? Why did all those people get turned away from the polls? They were voting democrat … I see. And someone could win the popular vote but not the electoral vote? Isn’t there something wrong with that? And 2004 … I was kind of excited about Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich for a minute there, but who’d we end up with? A cardboard cut-out. I don’t remember a single thing the guy said, he was so flat and boring. I could for a while quote some of the things Dean and Kucinich had said, but nothing memorable ever came out of Kerry’s mouth.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. I did support Kerry simply because he was the democratic party candidate. Although I resent that part of this system, too – that the political parties to which I am closest aligned do not have serious candidates, or, if they do, they are blamed for the democratic loss of the election, having “stolen” votes away. (This is another can o’worms entirely that I’m not willing to open – debate whether or not the third parties are valid or detrimental somewhere else, please.)
My point is, ever since I was old enough to vote, I’ve lived in George Bush’s America. And even since I was a kid, though I had a brief babyhood with Carter, I’ve grown up in Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush America. Capitalism rules – votes are for sale, influence is for sale, lawmaking is for sale. It’s depressing!
I grew up in the shadow of the civil rights legacy – social change through grassroots activism that clearly worked, that stopped the Vietnam war, that changed women’s gender roles, that shattered segregation, that united queers around the country. Parents and teachers who taught the political movements of the 1960s and ’70s like scripture, and I was – we all were – the next generation, the new movement, those who would pick up the torch and carry on.
And yet … and yet. The Right has been incredibly well-organized and effective. This country is divided on issues vs values. I find it so goddamn hard to believe that the election is so tightly close – I mean really? There are really just as many people voting for Obama as are voting for McCain? How can that be possible? It’s so hard to believe. Just like it’s so hard to believe that Bush Jr. was elected – twice – and took office – twice – and we didn’t stop him – twice.
However much those elections were fixed or rigged or fairly won or a systematic corruption of our voting system, we didn’t do enough to make it stop, did we?
I’m not a political scientist, I hesitate to even write about this because I feel like so many other people are so much more well informed than I am. That was one of the things I loved so much about The Ex, actually, was that she was a political scientist and could engage with me about political issues in ways that really helped me understand. So I know enough to know that I don’t know very much. (Which is why I’m linking like crazy, not only to source myself, but to encourage information gathering from other places. And to put all the links and resources I’ve been collecting in one spot.)
Oh jeez, and then there’s Sarah Palin. And the nonsense about Palin vs Hillary Clinton, which I don’t even want to speak to.
I do have some information about Palin, being that the Alaska Governor’s mansion is down the street from my mom’s house and my aunt works for the legislature. But if you’re paying any attention to the email forwards that are going around about Palin, then you probably already know what I know: basically, she’s vindictive. You’ve probably seen the Kilkenny email, the commentary by Gloria Steinem, and Women Against Sarah Palin. I probably don’t need to tell you about Palin’s anti-feminist, anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-freedom philosophies: pro-gun. Anti-abortion. Against same sex marriage. Bans books. Anti-evolution and pro-creationism in public schools. Against sex education in schools. The list goes on.
This stuff depresses me. About now I start thinking, wtf can I do?
Check out the Action Center on barackobama.com for more ideas about what you can do to get involved.
Donate to the Obama campaign.
Encourage everyone to register & vote – voteforchange.com has registration, absentee & early vote info.
If you want Obama buttons for your own site, they’re at /downloads – took me a bit of poking around to find them. I even downloaded an Obama wallpaper for my work computer, which is going to be slightly controversial in my conservative office, but I don’t care.
Meanwhile, fivethirtyeight.com‘s electoral projections are keeping my hopes up.comment on this