Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Monday, September 1, 2008

Political race is revving up ...

Wow. Wow. Wow.
Normally, I'm not a political junkie. Sure, I'm interested, just not obsessed.
Until now.
First, there was Barack Obama's impassioned DNC speech before 80,000 folks in Colorado. What an orator the Illinois senator is. For forty five minutes I was riveted to my television screen. Riveted. Impressed with his words and his vision. Happy ... no, scratch that ... elated ... ELATED that he finally did some firing back to GOP misclaims. No, there will not be a raising of middle class taxes. ("I will cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.") Refuted the Republicans' claim that he isn't patriotic. ("We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. I will never hesitate to defend this nation.")
An absolutely stunning, STUNNING speech that was more State of the Union than convention rhetoric.
And then, just when I thought I couldn't be happier (thank goodness there's change coming!), Senator McCain announces his running mate, Sarah Palin, governor from Alaska.
Sarah Who?
Former mayor of what town?
A town of how many? There are more moose and elk there than people.
My first response: McCain just shot himself in the foot. No one knows who this Palin woman is. Surely people won't elect a Veep who had a whopping 900 people vote her in for mayor. I had 400 more votes than that when I was elected to a school board seat.
I thought: Obama just won the presidency.
That was my first response.
Since that first response, I've talked to people (two sisters-in-law and a grocery checkout clerk). They like this Sarah-Who. Why, because she's pretty? This I want to ask, but it seems kind of snotty-pants. You know nothing about her, so why do you like her? This I do ask. And the response I hear is this: "I heard she might be anti-abortion. I won't vote for anyone who is pro-choice." (So much for the McCain camp thinking the maverick will get Hillary's voters.)

Ah, I think: Single-issue voters.
Voters who don't read the paper, don't watch real news programming, don't understand, really, that politics is never about a single issue. Don't try to understand. Just go out and vote for a particular candidate all because of one embedded conviction.

Now that I just don't get.

But I'm listening. And, yes, I'll be watching the Republican National Convention every night, too.
I'm what's called a Big Picture thinker.


Bee said...

I feel a rant coming on.
I try to stay mentally sober during the Pres. elections, but they always start making me crazy!! I just read an article about the Republican attack dogs who run the campaigns behind-the-scenes . . . and who will commit outrageous libelous slander without batting an eye. It makes me so angry and frustrated.

I agree with you about the single-issue voter. That makes me crazy, too, and I think it is highly irresponsible.

Sarah Palin certainly makes for good copy, and I'm sure that The Daily Show will be thrilled to have some great material, but I think that she is dubious in the extreme as a possible President. Oh, where do I begin? My husband and I cannot believe that so little press has been given to the fact that she thinks that Creationism should be taught in the schools. I have one word: Ignorant.

Women have always had to struggle with the work/family balance, but with a newborn with special needs and a pregnant teen, I think that Palin has a little too much on her plate.

Kate said...

I feel so happy to have someone on "my side." Thanks, Bee.
Anticipating ohsomuch the debates.
In the meantime, I am enjoying the newspapers, especially the op-ed pieces.
Recently I had an invigorating conversation with a man from your UK neck of the woods. He is a frequent bookstore visitor, and my daughter knows him and his accent is lovely and, well, about a week ago he and I sat down to talk about your country/our country. (Ian's been living in Kansas City with his Iowa-born wife for nearly a decade now.)
Basically, he hates guns and the ease at which most any American can procure one. (Sarah Palin is a card-carrying NRA member.) Kansas City has just endured one of its bloodiest gun-battle months in history: 81 deaths in just the month of August. Teens with assault weapons, mostly. Makes a sane person sick.
Ian is disturbed by the low minimum wage here and the enormous student loan debt that many college grads are burdened to carry. Try paying off 43K while making a paltry wage. My poor daughter might never get out of debt. (OK, so she didn't need to take out student loans to travel to Russia her sophomore year. Still, the kid's broke.)
Happy, however, is Ian when it comes to what he calls Midwestern decency. Apparently we are a jolly lot and eager to apologize should a beverage leak onto someone's shoe.
Which brings me to ask you, Bee:
What do you like/dislike about America? And like/dislike about living in the UK?

Bee said...


Your question is an interesting one. I might try to tackle it blog-wise in the next week of two. It's funny, but the current political situation has actually put me back in touch with what makes me crazy about America (for instance, guns, religion, insularity and ignorance). Usually, I just think about what I like (and miss) -- namely food and friendliness. Generosity. Open-heartedness.

2Cents said...

Hey, there! A couple points on Obama's promise to cut taxes for the middle class.

He's not specifically raising taxes on the middle class - actually, he is proposing to allow Bush's tax cuts to expire. Either way, it's the same net effect - the middle class's taxes will go up.

Also, he is openly saying that he'll raise taxes on the 'rich' and 'big business'. Fred Thompson said it the best:

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they are not going to tax your family. No, they're just going to tax "businesses"! So unless you buy something from a "business", like groceries or clothes or gasoline ... or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small "business", don't worry ... it's not going to affect you.

So you see, the tax thing is not one of Obama's strong points. What he is proposing to do with taxes and trade are the same things that sank the country into the Great Depression.

I agree with you whole-heartedly, however, on the frustration of single-issue voters. In my opinion, if you don't know the people involved and have a good grasp of their entire platforms, I don't think you should vote at all!

A couple other things on your commenter, if I may...

Who has asked Joe Biden about whether he'll be able to do his job as VP when his wife has passed away? No one. So why is it so difficult for Palin to do the same thing? This is sexism in its basest form. Honestly, a Governor probably has more to do on a daily basis than the Vice President.

The creationist thing: her position is that she believes it should be allowable for evolution to be questioned. As the top policy maker in Alaska, she has never pushed the issue one way or the other, nor proposed that teachers be forced to teach creation. I think this is being overblown for obvious reasons. You may want to look past the hyped media reports to her actual record on the issue, especially if you're going to accuse others of ignorance.

The gun thing: since when has the availability of guns (which, I might add, is a 2nd Amendment right) been a cause of crime? The law-abiding people of this country are not the ones who commit crimes, the criminals are. Where do you think they get their guns? They don't go to the corner store to buy them - they get them illegally! The only thing that will be accomplished by removing guns from public hands is to remove the potential for public prevention of crimes being perpetrated by criminals. 'Gun control' is not the answer, as can be seen from the reports of school shootings and public rampages. The worst of those happen in places (like Virginia Tech) that are no-gun zones; the criminals know that no one will be there shooting back at them. If these nutballs go on a rampage when someone with a legal weapon is present, the rampage usually ends very, very quickly.

Nevertheless, back to the original topic! I, too, am greatly anticipating the debates. It will be the acid test of Palin, especially because Biden is supposed to be a good debater. We'll find out how well she holds up - in the debate is when we'll know if McCain made a brilliant move or a catastrophic mistake.

Ah, yes, politics can be fun! :)