Saturday, May 31, 2008

Foray into Politics (2)

While I've written quite a bit about the "politics" of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, I've mostly stayed away from U.S. secular politics.

My "proclivity" [sardonic h/t to Deacon Phil] won't surprise you. As the saying goes: I'm an independent; it's just that I've never found a Republican I could vote for in the past three decades. Just kiddin'. Fact is, I'm an unrepentant yellow-dog Democrat, though "some of my best friends are Republicans." The Dems tick me off quite frequently, with their smug assumption that they can count on poor people and black people and gay/lesbian people to support them … while so very often betraying us. But I digress.

When Missouri held its primary back in February, everyone but Obama and Clinton had dropped out. Until I stepped into the voting booth, I really wasn't sure how to vote. Standing there for much longer than usual, I decided I had to go with my brain and my heart, and I voted for Hillary.

But through this long, long primary season, I have been absolutely clear that I will be voting for the Democratic candidate in November. There's no way I could vote for that smarmy McCain. [Aside: He must the world's champion Facebook/MySpace candidate. Who the hell else has 200 million "friends"? sheesh If I hear "My friends…" one more time, I do believe I'm going to puke.]
I met Hillary at a small White House gathering in late 2000. It was just one of those things. In my day job, I was involved in an initiative that she had launched, and she had a little party for us in the waning days of the Clinton administration. I was astonished at her ease and passion in talking about a subject that's fairly abstruse [preservation/conservation]. Yes, I'm sure staffers had briefed and prepped her. But she spoke as if she had been in the field as long as any of us. Her ability to get a grasp on the goals and language and nuances of our little field impressed me. She was smart and personable … and I liked her.

Hillary seems to have the mental toughness that would enable her to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the world.

I questioned myself about why I couldn't be as supportive of Senator Obama. His youth and inexperience concerns me. He reminds me a little too much of Jimmy Carter, who was fresh and passionate and promised change, but then could not deliver.

Around the office and in talking with friends, I've never been a strident supporter of Senator Clinton, nor have I taken any pot-shots at Senator Obama. I have cringed at some of the excesses that have occurred during this campaign. I wish that neither of them attacked the other. More than anything else, I think it's important that we elect the Democratic nominee this fall. Of course, I was eager to hear what the Democratic Rules Committee would do yesterday. There's a part of me that hopes it might work out for Senator Clinton to be the nominee, but I don't want it to be an unjust or disputed nomination.

All that is background to what I meant to say here.

I awoke this morning (as I always do) with NPR talking softly on my nightstand. They were giving the report on the DNC Rules Committee decision to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations, but only at half-strength, and arbitrarily awarding some Michigan delegates to Senator Obama. Mind you, I'm aware that they were faced with a Solomonic choice. They had to discipline those two renegade state parties. I'm glad I wasn't in their shoes.

What distressed me was the voices of the more strident Clinton supporters, declaring they'll either vote for McCain or "sit this one out." And I was distressed by those who were excoriating the Democratic National Party, as if the DNC were the enemy.

What are these people smoking??

If Florida and Michigan had left their primaries as scheduled, they could have had a huge, huge influence on the outcome of this election. Instead, these two states' Democratic parties tried to "leap-frog" some of the others to vote in January, in violation of the national party rules and norms. Had these two states held their primaries as scheduled, they might have been hugely influential. But they did not. They wanted to write their own rules. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

If rage needs to be expressed, the Clinton supporters in Florida and Michigan need to vent it at their state Democratic parties – not at Senator Obama or the Democratic National Party. Their state leaders broke the rules and screwed them over. Actions have consequences, and the DNC did as well as it could, I think.

I'm fairly discouraged today. I remember those old lines about the problems with the Democratic Party:
  • "They form their firing squads in a circle."
  • "They have a unique gift for grasping defeat from the jaws of victory."
The Dems had better get a grip – and sooner than later. Our nation – and our globe – cannot bear four more years of an imperial America.

I really, really, really wanted Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic candidate for President this year. When I cast my vote in November for Senator Obama, it will be a wistful, "second-choice" voice. But I will not stay away, and I certainly won't vote for "George Bush's 3rd Term." And I pray that Senator Obama will be up to the challenge.


Blogger FranIAm said...

What a great and thoughtful post.

I have found this election to be very difficult and it is only June 1!

While I did have some interest early on in Kucinich - he was the only one who represented most of what was important to me - I knew that he would not get far.

My support was really with Edwards and I was sorry to see him go so early.

Hillary Clinton is an able politician and has been a fine senator for our state of NY.

I have a hard time supporting her for far too many reasons to list here.

Now I have not been that over the top about Obama, but was tacitly supporting him.

I love what you said about a young Jimmy Carter here - that made so much sense to me.

My inner pragmatist is too defined for me to find Obama the next and only hero.

All this said - I have grown more and more distressed all the way around.

My blog has two "circles" of readers - the mainly (but not only) TEC crowd that has led me here, but also includes Lutherans, Presbyterians and a few others, plus one other lone active Catholic to join me.

The other "circle" is largely non-religious and very political.

Sadly I have "lost" several blog friends throughout due to the tenor of this election.

My non-support of Hillary has cost me...hard to believe. I mean - it is a blog!

Sad - isn't it?

And yes- there is a lot of that "I'll vote for McCain" talk - what is that about???

Anyway, you put this all rather eloquently and once more I have gone on too garrulously!

Thanks for wandering into political territory Lisa. You do it well.

6/01/2008 6:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Well, Fran, I am astonished that folks would abandon you based on your political leanings and meanderings. Truly astonished!

I sense most of the bloggers I read are in the Obama camp, but I would be astonished if they shunned me now that I've come out on Hillary's side.

Like you, I liked what Kucinich had to say, but I knew he wasn't really a contender. And, frankly, he's too much an idealist to run this country. So my next choice was Edwards. I'm truly sorry that he dropped out.

I'll tell you the truth. And if many folks read this, I bet I'll take some flak. ... I think the "primary voting system" sucks and oughta be shucked. Most people in America are too stupid to select the nominees. We have a miserably uneducated electorate. Very few of them have been taught critical thinking skills. Most of them just listen to Faux News (or whatever) to learn how to vote. Frankly [and I never thought I would say this], I would be very happy if the parties went back to using that "smoke-filled back room" to choose their nominees. Let the Republicans and the Democrats come up with the person they think can best represent their values, then let's go at it in the fall.

Our nation was not set up originally to be a democracy; it was established as a republic. I'm sick to death of seeing what majoritarian rule has given us. I'd like to return to our republican (small "R") roots.

Oh my. I bet that's going to tick some people off.

6/01/2008 7:23 PM  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Lisa - I agree with you about the primary system. It is sorely broken and we must find a new way.

As for the people who left my blog over that, well we all know that there is no shortage of angry and bitter folks out there. That statement in and of itself sounds angry and bitter, but I can assure you that it is not.

A lot of the bloggers in my other circle have axes to grind - not sure why. Political and religious - lots of anger. I guess I do understand, having been "hurt" by systems, people, etc.

That said, I have also been hurt and I have been graced to be healed, so I get it.

6/02/2008 3:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Franiam. Yeah, anger seems to be the dominant emotion of the U.S. in the 21st century. But I'm sorry to hear you got bashed so much.

Let me add another point about my half-joking wish for a return to the old "smoke-filled back room" system. I have a fantasy that the "statesmen" (and women) might win out over the idealogues in both parties. I'd like to see us select nominees based on who can govern rather than who can "whip up the base." -- And just for the record, I think that approach would have given us a Democratic nominee different from either of candidates now in the race, and maybe even different from anyone who pursued the nomination this year. ... And, best of all, we might be spared these perpetual campaigns. I'd like to see a first-term president spend those four years governing rather than running for re-election. *sigh*

6/02/2008 6:03 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

We need to hammer away at the thought that the next president will have three Supreme Court Justices to appoint. McCain has said he will continue to appoint justices such as Thomas and Scalia. We just cannot let it happen!

"Most people in America are too stupid to select the nominees. We have a miserably uneducated electorate." You have said what I long thought. Sad.

6/04/2008 3:06 PM  

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