Saturday, February 02, 2008

Deck Chairs and other Updates

So, my January post a day plans didn't quite pan out. This was in part due to work and also in part to the nature of the things I've been writing. Happily, I have been writing. My January write something every day plans were (thanks to the prompt fairy!) much more successful than my posting ones, but that is okay. In the end, I hit the important part of the goal and plan to continue writing daily for as long as I can sustain it.

It's funny. While last January was more about quantity, this one has been more about authenticity. The two don't necessarily go hand in hand. I wrote a lot this past month, but most of it will never be seen by eyes other than my own. Still, I'm all for trying post here more regularly as well! And that's good, because month two of 2008 brings all sorts of exciting things.

For the first time since I got my puppy, she has allowed me to sleep in past 6:00 a.m., I have been non-meat eater for a day now (so far so good - but don't worry, right now it's still in the experimental stages. I won't start looking askance at flesh eaters for at least another week!), and Super Tuesday is almost here. For political nerds, this is almost like waitin for Christmas! (Much more exciting than the let down of Fitzmas!)

Watching the Democratic field whittle itself down to Clinton and Obama has been fascinating (and sometimes maddening). From the beginning, I knew that my favorite candidate would not make it to the end, so I was not surprised when he dropped out of the race along with all the other eventual political casualties. And now we're left with a situation where either a woman or a black man will become the Democratic nominee for President. From the perspective of historical significance, this is pretty exciting. It's about time, isn't it?

At the same time, I find it saddening that it is a big deal that we might really have a shot at having a non-old-white-guy president. We Americans like to think that we are so forward thinking, but in this case as a society, we are actually behind the curve. Plenty of other countries have had female leaders. We're not exactly blazing new ground.It makes me impatient. I have to keep reminding myself that it is something that we are at least taking some steps in the right direction.

At the same time, I have to admit that I am not a huge Hillary fan. When her husband was president, I liked her a lot more than I do now. If I were a senator, you could almost say I voted for her, before I voted against her. It may be just an age thing. I was still relatively young and politically apathetic then, so it may just be that I wasn't paying attention. Today, however, she leaves me cold.

It's not that I don't think that Hillary Clinton is competent. She clearly is an intelligent, strong, articulate woman. I even feel for her in some of the challenges she faces as a female candidate: If she is too tough, then she's an unfeeling bitch. If she dares to cry or show genuine emotion, then she is either weak, a borderline hysteric, or stabbing herself in the leg with a fork to create the appearance of sincerity. With those limited options, whatever she does, she can't win.

It's just don't find her to be particularly trustworthy. She seems too slick, too in the game. I'm tired of the game. Her positions on the war trouble me as does her affable relationship with the healthcare industry and its checkbooks. And (though this is no fault of Mrs. Clinton's) I really don't like the notion that just because I am a woman, I am somehow expected to support her.

While my own femaleness may make me less likely to dismiss someone simply for being female, to suggest that women have no deeper criteria than gender in opting to support someone is insulting. Every time the media feeds us this bullshit (whether it is applied to women or minorities), what they are really saying is that we are too stupid to pick a candidate based on the merits of his or her positions. It would be great to have a female president or a black president, but ultimately what I want is an ethical one who can handle the responsibilities of the job. I'm tired of cronies. I'm tired of my government being run like a tanking, corrupt corporation that could give Enron a run for its money.

I know that when it comes down to it that the differences between Clinton and Obama are not huge. Their voting records are pretty similar. While I admit that Obama wasn't my first choice, I do think he is a big step in the right direction. In the end what makes me favor Obama over Clinton is this: His early denunciation of the war in Iraq. At a time when almost ALL of Democrats were voting to authorize Bush to attack, Obama spoke out against it. I know people argue that he wasn't in the Senate then, as though that somehow makes it not count, but that strikes me as flawed thinking. One could just as easily say that as someone planning to run for a seat, he showed courage and integrity in taking an unpopular position. Wouldn't it have been easier to just go along with the more "experienced" crowd on this?

There are those who say that Mr. Obama is inexperienced. I suppose that if one looks at this in narrow terms of how long he has served in the Senate, this is true. But we're also talking about a man who was the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, a civil rights lawyer, taught constitutional law, served eight years in the Illinois Senate before embarking on his current tenure as a U.S. Senator. What he has done in 47 years, many peole don't accomplish in a life time. It's not like he's been manning the drive-thru at Taco Bell for the past ten years. That is not to disparage Hillary Clinton's accomplishments, she's done a lot too. I just think the argument about Obama's "inexperience" is not as strong as some people would like us to believe. Besides, there is a reason why Presidents have cabinets and advisors. When I listen to Obama speak, I find myself inspired in a way that politics as usual does not. Usually, it just makes me angry. Freshness allows for new perspectives and a real hope of change and hope it worth something to me these days.

To paraphase Rogers Morton, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic isn't going to keep it from sinking. It is time for something new. What we need is a new boat with new deck chairs and a new Captain to go along with it. The one we're on has taken us too close the watery depths as it is.


Jen said...

Hooray for January experiments! I'm glad that it got you writing what you need to write, and I really appreciate that you encouraged me to join along. It forced me outside of my laziness zone, which was very stimulating!

I feel you on the "isn't it awesome/ isn't it awful" about the first black or woman president. (yes, it's wonderful, but it shouldn't be remarkable in the 21st century.) I have more on this, but am currently out of my mind on cough syrup, so I'll spare you.

But I did want to say thank you for the january prod!

Martina said...

Excellent! I am glad it was stimulating and I will not even say that I told you so, because that's not how I roll!

Bummer on the cough syrup! It seems like we've been taking turns being sick for the past 3 months or so! I do not like this! I hope you're feeling better.