Saturday, August 20, 2011
A conversation with my mom inspired these words: "As far as I'm concerned the Presidential election is a circus. No, even a circus makes more sense. I think the whole thing is absurd and I feel embarrassed for the women and people of color who died so that we all could vote in this crazy system." I went on to say that "the Presidential race is like having an affair with a very smarmy but attractive married man who comes into town every four years and leaves me feeling utterly dirty."
Right after these words came out I apologized to my mom for sounding so grandiose. I was shocked to hear myself and was forced to acknowledge that I feel very sad about the level of childishness I see in what we currently call the democratic process. Yes our voting system is better than say a country where the public cannot vote, but is it necessary for so much ugliness, finger-pointing and dirty tricks to be the way a politician gets into office?
In my senior year of high school I missed being able to vote in the Presidential election by 1 & 1/2 months. The election was in early November & I turned 18 in mid-December. I had that whiny teenage angst then about wanting to vote & how 17 was old enough to be trusted with something as grown-up and important as voting. Besides the angst I was excited to become a part of the democratic process. I had campaigned for Senator Wellstone, protested military action in El Salvador and participated in various rallies by the time I was 17. My mom for years was an election judge (she still is) and we talked extensively about local and national politics (all from a strong liberal point of view). It seemed really unfair that I couldn't help vote Bill Clinton into office when I knew there were plenty of adults who were not as politically aware as I was.
I cared about this country and it's people. I cared about who was in office and how they would make a difference.
When I was finally able to vote and help re-elect Bill Clinton to office I felt excited, proud and voted with a solemnity that only a first time thoughtful voter could. It was like going to the church of democracy where the personal was political and instead of holding my hands in prayer, I held a pen and made a carefully rendered "X" by the candidate I felt would love and protect us, much like some mortal deity.
That was the first and last time I felt such reverence for our political process.
Perhaps it's my age or experience or sobriety or all of the above but I just can't get my panties wet over Presidential elections anymore. After having the Presidential election hijacked not once (2000) but twice (2004) I began to feel almost numb to any hope for a real political process in which "we the people" decide on the candidates that shall serve our greatest good in office. Over the years it has thankfully become clear to me that Presidents are people, flawed like you and me. It is also clear (in my humble opinion) that the electoral college is a flawed system for our current needs as citizens. Finally I am painfully aware that TV ads, billboards, magazine articles, political websites and news media outlets do very little for helping me decide which candidate is the best choice (for what?).
To be honest, when the primaries went down in 2008, Obama was not my first choice. Ironically I liked John Edwards initially (yes I know) but started to listen to the three top candidates in their own words. I was finally won over by Hillary Clinton because of her ideas on education, marriage equality and the war. After the primary I put my support behind Obama and was very exited about the prospect of not only having (finally) a President of color in office but having someone in office who seemed to care about uniting the nation while emphasizing that we all could make a difference.
My BFF & I shared and shed tears when it was confirmed Obama had won. In one of his post election speeches he again emphasized unity and that we all would have to work for change. Many of us worked for that change while our President extended Bush tax cuts. Obama has done some great things that I feel don't get enough attention. Please refer to this link for more information. Despite many of the good things, Obama has been like all the other Presidents: unable to fulfill promises made on the campaign trail.
So for now I just don't want to hear about what Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann or Obama or what anyone else is doing on their journey to and through the upcoming election. I just don't really care right now and am happy to put my head in the sand until I can hear in the canidates own words, what promises they will eventually break. Today I vote for my sanity. Today that is the vote that counts the most.