One of my personal online inspirations, Jill Miller Zimon, posed the question in the title earlier today, and there's really a pretty easy answer.
I vote because I can.
I am - and this is a word I don't throw around - blessed to live in a country where I am allowed a say in the political process, where some might say we're obsessed with voting on everything: paper or plastic? Leather or lace (hi Stevie Nicks.)? And who wouldn't take that opportunity? And if they wouldn't, why?
Craig Ferguson - a native of Scotland and a United States citizen who never fails to expand my mind when I irresponsibly stay up late to watch his show - just went on a voting tear as part of a larger tear on the ridiculous nature of the Palin/lipstick on pig/Obama (and oh yeah, McCain and Biden in there somewhere) situation. I paraphrase: if you have to be begged to vote in a democracy, you're a fool. Young people: If you can't get your hand out of a bag of Cheetos long enough to fill out a form? Fail.
Agreed. Maybe it's just because I was raised in a solidly Democrat, post-FDR, multi-generational government employee-led Washington, DC family on both sides, but you just did it. You voted. You got out of bed and you went to work or school and on election day you either went in the cold morning before you got to where you were going or you went in the cold on your way home. You did not really ever discuss who you were voting for. You did it, like you bought milk.
I do not remember the first time I voted, although I do remember going with my grandparents when they voted on several occasions, because I pretty much went about their daily errands with them when I wasn't in school.
The first voting of my own that I remember was in Dayton, voting in the second Clinton election plus locals and being really proud of myself that I was engaging in this new state and community. I have a very strong visual memory of standing in that line in Miamisburg (Dayton suburb.) If only I'd known then what would happen in Ohio the next go-round. When I have my frequent bouts of wishing I'd stayed, 2002 is a huge reason why. I was a crazy person here - there I might have been able to pick up every single last chad w/ my teeth.
My last experience voting - in this February's so-called "Chesapeake Primary" in Maryland - was the worst. I apparently registered independent in a bout of disgust with party politics when I came home - post Kerry I'm sure. And then I forgot about it, in all the chaos of my life. Democrat. Sure, I'm Democrat.
Well, no, I wasn't. I was so excited to go vote for HIllary in the primary, then I got there and I COULDN'T VOTE. It was one of the most disappointing days of my life. I remember watching Jill's videos that she posted on BlogHer from outside the polling places, SO angry at Maryland for not letting indies pick a primary (which I guess would be stupid but still) and at myself for not being clued in enough to my own life to know what political party I was registered for - or not.
And to think I was once apolitical.
Later today I found a link to a story about Jessica Alba's ad campaign for the voting organization Declare Yourself. I don't find her celebrity very exciting for any particular reason, but I do like her message: "Don't muzzle yourself."
Craig Ferguson was right. It's stupid to even have to have this kind of campaign. When I went to Vietnam in March, all I could think about was the lack of engagement people have in their government - their inability to participate even in a community civic group without some kind of oversight. And since that's the way it's always been there, it isn't considered strange (coupled with the collectivist bent in many o the cultures that make up the "Vietnamese people" - similar to some parts of Asia but really quite different, given their life in the shadows of China and France, among others.)
So I can think what I want about the election system or candidates on either side, really. I have my own views honed and amplified from living almost 40 years in this messed up but still ultimately democratic country, and I also have opinions at a dime a dozen. I just choose to take the relatively short time it requires to get my feelings and belief systems on the record, because I can, and because if there's one thing I hope I'm not, it's a fool.
I was in Denver covering the Democratic National Convention for my university's news service, courtesy of the graduate program that runs my life, so I had no time for anything else while I was there, and usually lacked an Internet connection. Welcome to blogger hell, friends.
The whole experience was physically and mentally exhausting and frustrating. The logistics of dealing with press restrictions once on site made it tough to get good shots. Being in a hotel 45 minutes away from the center of the action and another half hour from the group I was covering was daunting. The worst? The lack of time online to write, upload and edit that proved to me that I am not a print person, once and for all. (Also? The altitude is no joke if you're not used to it. I was the walking winded and more parched than all of you at Burning Man, seriously.)
But by the time Stevie Wonder took the stage on Thursday night and the buzz in Invesco Field reached heights I've never personally experienced, the curtains of my professional bias closed and I realized just how amazing it was to be there - within that physical structure and in a city that for a few days played host to what I honestly believe in the most overblown of terms imaginable was a turning point in our history.
I'm here to talk about young Dems - about the generation
that the campaigns say the future hinges upon, although some people
under 30 (or even 40 - youth is a relative definition these days) say
they're not sure they're entirely heard, at least not in the official
channels that - when it comes down to it - truly determine who takes
the top spot.
Some of these young people are on the trail blogging, taking and uploading thousands of photos and videos , writing endless posts and articles with their take on the action. Others are going on the official party line, serving as state delegates and pages, attending ridiculously early delegation breakfasts, sitting in caucus meetings, and finally taking to the floor to watch the candidates speak.
Sarah Burris from Kansas is a Rock the Trail blogger who also blogged the DNC for FutureWatch. She blogged about the Human Rights Campaign's Rock to Win concert featuring Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright and Melissa Etheridge (wow!)
The concert began with a short press conference where all agreed that
young voters were essential to the election in November. Cindy Lauper
said it was important for all people to vote, and that was a key
component for her concert with the HRC as well as her national True
(Burris crossposted at Everyday Citizen, where she is a founding blogger, and all of her Future Majority posts are collected here. Her bio there says she's "always happy to talk to fellow young people about elections,
organizing, and new media. You may contact her at sarahkatheryn at
gmail dot com.")
The Human Rights Campaign itself runs Generation Equality (GenEQ), that "helps queer youth go from being out to being active by providing the
skills, tools and knowledge to make full GLBT equality a reality."
Sarah Grainger was all over the DNC, and wrote at MomoCrats about the up-and-coming party leaders, specifically A'shanti Fayshel Gholar, DNC Youth Council Director, Secretary of the Nevada State Democratic Party and Vice-President of Young Democrats of America.
One of the things I didn't expect with the Democratic National
Convention was the large youth contingent. I don't know why, really,
because it's not like I haven't been somewhat tapped into what they've
been doing; I just didn't realize how major a force they were becoming.
When I was in college, the people I knew who were involved in politics
seemed to be doing it for the wrong reasons, so I was turned off to the
idea...(A'shanti) has her finger on the pulse of the young Democrats and is eloquent
as well. It's inspiring to see all of the new young leaders in the
Democratic party that were at the DNCC this week participating in a
wide range of events
The Young Democrats of America have a blog too. The latest post was about Got Tuition?, an organization focused on college affordability that currently features a contest sponsored by the National Education Association and the Huffington Post. The creator of the best video gets $1,000 towards school and the chance to blog on Huffington Post about college affordability.
College financing is a serious issue for many young voters. Got Tuition's mission, which they were pleased to hear echoed in Joe Biden's nomination speech on Wednesday:
bringing the issue of college affordability and the long term impacts of
student loan debt to the forefront of our national debate. If our nation is to maintain its status in the world, we must
ensure access to our colleges, vocational schools and universities to
everyone who wants to pursue the dream of higher education.
Politics West blogger Jackie Borchardt at the Denver Post wrote about an encounter with a politician on the first night of the DNC. (Sarah Burris blogged about Jackie as well, speaking of her disappointment with lip service to youth involvement from other politicians and Hollywood.)
"We need more young people like you," a California delegate said to me while I slurped a lemonade outside the convention hall.
I set the record straight: I'm not here for Democratic Party business.
I'm a journalist here to learn about the relationship between the news
media and politics.
Still, he said, the world needs more aware young people.
Message to other 23 year olds who might be walking around the Pepsi
Center this week: you are carrying a lot of weight. Whether or not the
"youth vote" exists, people are paying attention to the presence of
youth in this convention.
Lily Gold is a student at Germantown High School in Philadelphia and a guest blogger at the Y-Decide 2008/WHYY blog for the DNC. She quickly learned, along with the rest of us there, that credentials are hard to come by - and boy do you need them.
What I mean to say is, there were no credentials left.
Pennsylvania is unique in the way that, instead of distributing extra
credentials among the delegates themselves, each delegate enters their
name in a raffle and the winning names get credentials. Hefty sigh for
us hoepful high schoolers. But don’t count on this correspondent to be
down and out so fast- I networked at this breakfast more than I do on Facebook, and trust me, I am on Facebook a lot.
There were 631 delegates under the age of 36 in Denver – 28 super
delegates, 118 alternates, 55 standing committee members, and 74 pages. The number of delegates 35 and younger has almost doubled in eight years, to about 16 percent from 2000's nine percent. There were only four delegates under 30 in my state of Maryland, but some states are obviously doing better.
Rebecca McDonald at the Rock the Vote blog wrote about the youngest delegate, 17-year-old David Gilbert-Pederson from Minnesota, and his state colleague, 23-year-old Douglas Wiliams, and their road trip from Minnesota to Denver. The two not only crossed the age divide, but also a racial perception in Minnesota.
They began this historic process well before stepping into the car.
David recalls, “I feel like we both went in and busted up the old boys
club in our respective races.”
Their ascension on the City of
Denver, CO is history in the making. As 2 of 50 people of color in the
Minnesota delegation, this road trip duo is destined to change the face
of the Democratic Party. “Out of 109 delegates from Minnesota, 50 of
them are people of color.” Douglas continues, “When you think of our
state, you think of movies like Fargo where there aren’t any Black
people. But guess what, we do have diversity!”
I am currently writing from Denver, Colorado,
where I am at the Democratic National Convention! At age 18, I am the
youngest member of the Ohio delegation, and one of the youngest in the
country. The convention is at the same time exhausting and incredibly
exhilarating! Being a delegate is an amazing opportunity, since there
are few better ways to gain exposure to party politics. I was elected
as a Hillary Clinton delegate back in January for Ohio's 14th
Congressional District, and after the March 4th primary, Clinton's
success in my district ensured that I would be attending the DNC. Since
then, it had been a whirlwind of planning and preparing with the Ohio
Democratic Party. Sunday, I left my Rice University freshman
orientation to fly to Denver.
Kay Steiger at Pushback posted this video from a female college student, 21, who drove to Denver from Missouri thinking she could "make a difference" by volunteering at the DNC. The economy is her top concern.
Finally, I spent some time with Tashea Brodgins, president of the Baltimore City Young Democrats and a Marylander concerned about her ability to participate with many older delegates entrenched and the small number of delegates allowed. Credentials were hard to come by for Tashea and other young people, she said, but Maryland Democratic Party leaders had been there to help her out.
She said that no matter how hard it was, it was worth it to be a part of this event. With political aspirations of her own, she refuted claims of some longer-serving delegates who said the newbies were in it for the moment. She said that she's in it for the long haul.
Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites.
Crossposted from BlogHer.
Super Tuesday has come and gone and the presidential candidates have moved into a race for delegates in the states that have yet to vote. Lots of humans have weighed in about who they think will be the best person to lead our country, but one question remains: who gets the animal vote?
Much has already been made of the Obamas' plan to get their daughters a dog when they make it to the White House, but cats are dominating the Obama pet blogosphere lately. First of all, and I'm sure anyone familiar with the LOLCats craze will agree, it had to happen: Yes We Can Has (Cheezburgers.) This one's for Dana in Wisconsin:
Cats For Obama is on the stump as well (and in a similar vein, don't miss I Can Has Nomination or Lolbama.)
Also check out Dogs for Obama on Flickr, where Honey's for Hillary, while Chili hearts Huckabee.
Gina Spadafori got serious at Pet Connection, writing about "The Politics of Dogs and the Dogs of Politics":
Nope, Westminster is over, and while our buddy David Frei and Uno the Westminster-winning beagle make the rounds of the morning talk shows, I’m thinking of that other beauty pageant, the presidential primary races. My thought for the morning: What do the pet-food recall and Barak Obama have in common? Give up? The Internet.... The fact that we’re people, not demographics, is why some of us can enjoy the Westminster Kennel Club dog show and still rescue and foster pets. Because life is not as black-and-white as some believe — it’s about shades of gray. Or maybe, about a man with a Kansan mom, a Kenyan dad who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii and has the middle name that any consultant would have sworn was as deadly as last spring’s pet food. As they rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic embarassment of the Clinton campaign, somebody ought to be paying attention. We’re not “demographics”; we’re people. Miss that point? Well, here’s your hat, there’s the door. The “good ol’ days” are over, and thank heavens for that. The poodles aren’t winning any more at Westminster. As Uno the everyman beagle would say, “Ahhhhhhh-rooooooooooooo.”
Commenter Emily was less than enthused with the encroachment of politics on one of her favorite pet sites:
I for one vote for being actually non-partisan rather than requiring Hillary supporters to sit through this kind of stuff which even Obama supporter Dogged Blog described as “She had a nice gloss of non-partisanship all over it, but yo, Gina, I’m so onto you. She’s an Obama fangirl, just like me.” That was how I read it too, but with less joy that one of my fav non-political blogs is now starting to join in the Obama fangrrl squee parade.
Christie Keith wrote in support of the Pet Connection post and shared her own beliefs about how politics and animal welfare intersect.
I believe mandatory spay/neuter harms animals and the people who love them. I believe it's designed to impede pet ownership in furtherance of an anti-pet agenda, not to reduce the number of animals killed in shelters. That's why I fight it. I believe that the way to change things is through free expression, speech, persuasion, and education, not legislation. I believe that the only way to shut down puppy mills is to dry up the market, because there's no just way to legislate them out of business without trampling on people's freedoms, and in the end, harming the human/animal bond. But I believe that as a liberal, and as a dog lover, and as the opponent of the mass commercial production of puppies, and someone who is against the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. And I don't find any of those things a contradiction.
The undisputed winner in the pets-at-home category is John McCain, who has 22 pets; the loser is Barack Obama, who has none, but who -- it should be pointed out -- has promised his children that, win or lose, once the campaign is over, they will get one. So what he lacks in pets, he makes up for in being responsible enough to know that amid a run for the country's highest office is not a good time to bring a pet into one's young family. His opponent in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton, is down to one dog now, a Labrador named Seamus. Of the Clintons' White House pets, Buddy passed on, and Socks was given to White House Secretary Betty Currie when the Clintons left office. While some at the time criticized Hillary Clinton for "dumping" Socks, that act, like Obama not having a dog, might also have been the more responsible choice, especially considering both she and Bill are allergic to cats.
Caitlin Flanagan wrote an essay called "No Girlfriend of Mine" in the Atlantic Monthly last July detailing her displeasure with Clinton, including her treatment of Socks.
In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list. But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet had been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference. All presidential pets become famous, but the national affection for Socks during his time in the White House was unexpected and politically miraculous. He did the impossible: He humanized the Clintons. Socks stood for Chelsea (whose cloistering lent her allure) and for something Hillary desperately wanted us to understand about herself: that no matter how powerful or successful she becomes, first and foremost, she’s a mom; that no matter how incomprehensible her marriage may appear to outsiders, at its deep center is the only imperishable bond a man and a woman can share—a child. Conveying these two simple facts during the long and punishing 1992 campaign had eluded Hillary, and by the time the family was crating up its belongings to move to the White House, even those of us who had helped punch their ticket thought they were odd ducks... Hillary’s insistence that we follow her example in pet ownership, when she should really be on Cat Fancy’s Most Wanted list, makes her a tiresome bore. But exploiting the emotions of good-natured people (including “many of the retired servicemen and women who live at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home in Washington, D.C.,” whose bravery and patriotism she honored by having them send out kitty-cat “greetings” to Socks’s correspondents)—well, that’s just another example of her three-decade-long drift from the girl she once was to the woman that circumstance and ambition have made her.
What will female voters think of this, as Hillary tries to convince them that she’s human? I’ll tell you what this female voter thinks. Me. Ow. At least she didn’t strap Socks to the roof of her car on a family vacation. “In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list,” writes Caitlin Flanagan in the current issue of The Atlantic. “But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet has been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference.” Oh, lighten up, Flanagan.
A dog is an essential tool of government. There is nothing like a furry friend to feature in a distracting publicity photo during a domestic or international crisis and to provide private consolation when times are hard. President Bush once said about Iraq: “I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney [his scottie] are the only ones supporting me.” With McCain vowing to keep American troops in Iraq for 100 years if necessary, it is perhaps as well that he has a number of pets. Socks the cat was a star of the Clinton years, but should Hillary’s fortunes revive she is unlike to take back the elderly family pet that she dumped on her husband’s White House secretary when his presidency ended. There is still Seamus, a chocolate labrador who replaced Buddy, the second dog owned by the Clintons to be run over. Mike Huckabee has three dogs, Jet, a black labrador, Toby, a King Charles cavalier spaniel, and Sonic, a shih tzu, but his son, David, was accused with a friend of torturing and hanging a dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. Animal rights groups in Arkansas, where his father was governor, were outraged and the 17-year-old was dismissed as camp counsellor.
It's not a good sign that Obama doesn't have any pets. McCain, on the other hand leads the group with 22. I would expect nothing less than pound rescues from Kucinich, the candidate I am most closely aligned with politically.
Given the above information, it is really a shock that the candidates are not talking more about dogs and our concerns. It seems like labs are really an over represented breed with this group, so labs everywhere should unite and make their voices heard by their humans. As I like to say, “Go Dog Go.”
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is another source for the intersection of pets and politics. The Humane Index 2006 rated Sen. Clinton over 100 percent in animal welfare, and whereas Obama scored lower he has gotten other good marks from the organization as well.
After the Cups linked to the Fund For Animals ranking, where again Clinton came out ahead, in spite of continued scuttle over the transfer of former first cat Socks to Bill Clinton's secretary Betty Currie and the demise of Buddy the lab
I'm a total nerd for politics, but what with the US elections and everything I thought maybe other people might be interested too. This site ranks both Senators and Representatives by their voting records on various issues, including animal rights according to the agendas of the Humane Society and the Fund for Animals. I realize that neither of these groups stand up the standards that most of us have, but they still serve as some sort of baseline of what we can expect from members in regards to their voting records on animal rights... It looks like Hillary has a better voting record for animal rights than Obama or McCain based on this data at least. She voted line line with the Humane Society agenda 100% of the time, Obama 60% of the time, and McCain 40% of the time. (if anyone is curious Kucinich was of course at 100%) You can obviously look up your own members as well if you feel like writing people angry letters.
PawsConnect held a less formal but spirited competition late in 2007 to determine the pets' favorite candidate. Lizzy from Catpaign won the grand prize, and felt that Clinton came out ahead.
I'm Lizzy and American politics has gone to the dogs. I'm fed up with the good ol' boys and it's no stretch to see who's the right candidate. Look at these hound dogs: Mutt Romney, Bark Obama, Joe Bite 'Em. . .It's time we put a little feline power in the white house. After all, what would you prefer? A smelly old lazy dog or a nine-lifer that knows her mind? Hillary's the cat's meow. She puts the purrr in Prrresident. It's time to let sleeping dogs lie. Cats of America Awake! Hillary Kitten in '08!
Mitt Romney unnerves me so.
How does this scary orange man get a national platform? I know so many cool people, people who understand politics and policy. How does this (totally orange makeup-coated) man become a presidential candidate?
He's making me LIKE that Huckabee character, want to be best friends with John McCain and flat-out want to smooch (gross) Ron "I am so obsessed with the guns and butter" Paul. Ron Paul is completely agitated at this point.
Mormon doesn't bother me. Creepy does. And Romney was completely "Oh, I engineered the genius Big Dig that killed people" creepy in the Reagan Library debate tonight.
Such a long long year.
There's an open thread on BlogHer today for the South Carolina Democratic primary. I think people must be out and about because no one has commented yet. I just checked the Post election blog for an update and there's not too much out there yet, aside from reports that early turnout in most precincts is well above average compared to 2004.
I think this is good. Turnout and participation in the democratic process is a good thing. But as I sit here in Maryland, a 37-year old female registered Democrat who won't get MY turn to cast a vote until a whole week AFTER Super Tuesday, an eternity away on February 12, I feel little but inadequate because I seem to have such trouble articulating anything that I think might shed light on this situation. I feel overwhelmed by the thousands of impassioned, articulate words I've read from people I know well and don't know at all, from people I respect so much I am grateful to call them friends and colleagues to people I just caught in passing, from people who think Barack Obama is the best thing to come down the line ever to people who think he's a changy changerson mess of generalizations and nothing more, from people who think Hillary Clinton is a she-devil (whatever that is) to people who think she's leading us (whoever "us" is) to the promised land (wherever "that" is.)
Every day, I read news stories. I read comment chains, some comments as bigoted and ugly as I've ever read, some from black men and women supporting Clinton, some from white men and women supporting Obama, many indignant at the judgment that they'd support ANYONE based on race and/or gender. My head, it swims.
It's January, almost a year before the actual election, and I'm already news- and blog-saturated, unsure and a little bit worried too, because I can't comprehend any of the nominees from the Republican side and in my worst nightmare that person, whoever HE is (at least we've got that gender box checked off over there, whew) will be the next President.
I wish I had conviction. I've identified myself as a Clinton voter, but I wish I could be a t-shirt wearing, card-carrying supporter of any one individual. I can't be and I'm not. Color. Gender. Religion. Campaign-finance-whatever-they-are. I don't know them, not really. As interested in and educated about politics as I make it my business to be, I have very little trust in politicians themselves or in what any of the candidates lay out as the major reason they should be elected. How can you believe? How can you see past the lobs of "he voted present" and "her husband is a sucky, pushy ex-President" and "I'm just the nice guy in all of this" to something that makes any kind of sense? I can't, and if you can please clue me in. I think that politics has become such a quagmire and media horror show that it would take a truly insane or ego-driven person to want to subject him or herself and their family and closest friends to that kind of scrutiny. Or maybe, in some dreamscape version of all of this, these people really DO have a sky-high sense of public service, really DO believe that what they bring to the table is essential for the future success of the United States.
If that's the case, I wish I felt it. I mean, I know I've felt the soul and wallet-sucking opposite over these past eight years. You'd think I'd know, as a fairly intuitive sort if I say so myself, what the real deal is. And maybe what worries me is that I think I WOULD know it if I saw it, and I just haven't, and don't really believe that I will.
Or maybe she just ruined me by picking that stupid Celine Dion song. When it comes down to it, I'm just an id-driven human being with a fallible frontal lobe, I guess. I mean, I actually watched an episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County today. How can you trust me?
Seriously, even when Professor Kim and I sat down with Dennis Kucinich and his wife for the interview at Howard University last summer, I was looking for it. When I was watching Bill Richardson sweat under the hot, hot lights in the spin room and he just looked pissed off, I was looking for it. When I was watching Cornel West spin (again that word) for Barack Obama, I was looking for it. Even when I was watching Mike Gravel, bless his heart, pound away about the old news that was "the war on drugs!!!!!" to young black reporters, and telling them that THEIR press had done them wrong, I was looking for it. (Talk about not finding it, for real.)
When Barack Obama came on the scene, I wanted to support him and was excited to hear him speak. Partially, yes, I'll admit that it was because he was not a white man (that is to say, he was not what we had had, he did not represent what had so depressed me for so long, he represented progress for equality that would reflect well on us all), he was a new face and voice and I wanted to see someone who would lift us up out of the dregs we've fallen into over the past eight years. I listened to him. I've seen him in a few debates. I saw him address a Planned Parenthood convention. I was left unenthralled, and disappointed. Whatever I was hoping to hear, or hoping to intuitively sense, I didn't.
By the way, I've also considered all candidates in the harsh light of who they'd be replacing. George W. Bush ultimately didn't get elected completely on his machine's own merits and efforts. As corrupt as I believe it was, it wasn't all that. People really did vote for him. And as much as I respect the rights of my fellow citizens to vote how they see fit, I find this unimaginable. Just absolutely horrifying and unimaginable. And whether this paints me as uneducated or short-sighted, when it comes down to an alternative, I'd ultimately be satisfied with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. I'd be thrilled with John Edwards. But notice that I say "as an alternative," and I find this disturbing.
I can understand why some people - black and white, male and female, anyone in the country of any sort- like Obama and want to see HIM in the Oval Office. I cannot say for them - although many will say for themselves, vehemently that it is not - whether this is because he's black. Because he's a man? Because he's a snappy dresser who speaks so articulately? Because he has a vision? Because of some or all or none of these reasons, just because? I don't know. That's their call. If you make sweeping generalizations about anyone, you stand to lose and you stand to alienate, and you also are quite likely wrong on many, many counts.
I can understand why, also, SOME women would like to see a woman - a qualified, competent woman of integrity - in the Oval Office. I'd like to see that too. I don't care if it happens before or after a black man, or an Asian woman, or a Hispanic/Latino person, or whatever. I don't care. I do care that it happens. I do care that other people of other colors and genders and races and religions get a shot at leadership - IF those individuals have what it takes. For that matter, I'd take a white man who had something to bring to the table at this point. Like I said, if I had a feeling that Edwards was the guy, I'd say "great". I really don't, but that's another story. (Now Elizabeth? Elizabeth for President, baby. All the way.)
I decided that I would vote for Hillary Clinton during the first debate, prior to Iowa, I think. I may have decided last summer. I may have been programmed by coming of age in the first Clinton terms, when I really felt like things were better for us on the foreign policy front, when I felt like my President could find the countries he was visiting on a map. (and yes, I know Obama could do that, too.) I saw a person who had answers to questions that made sense to me. I saw someone who wasn't taking any crap off of anyone. I saw someone who was specific. I saw someone who - and this is where I'm told I'm wrong, and when it's proven I'll owe someone a bet payoff that has yet to be determined - could stabilize that which is currently so unstable on so many levels. I do not have that sense about Barack Obama. I just don't, and I can't explain it any more deeply than that.
As far as gender goes, I do see Hillary Clinton get slammed for things that men do, routinely, in campaigns and for which they get passes. I see her stand up for herself and get criticized. I see her criticize her opponents (because that is what you DO in a competition like this. This is not a tea party. John Kerry much?) and get criticized for that, more than they get criticized for criticizing her (Isn't this fun?). I see her called names, slurs related to sexual orientation, even, which make me ill and I wonder what it would ever take to turn that tide.
Like I said, I don't know if I'm right about her being the best option to lead, which bothers me to no end. I just want to see something different. I want to see something better. I want to see a country where we don't ignore the concerns of not just the poor, which is Edwards's primary message, but of the struggling middle class, increasingly made up of educated, single, broke people, both men and women of a variety of races and ethnicities, of which I am a part. I want to see something I'm afraid I'll never see. I want to see someone capable of extricating us from Iraq in a way that makes sense, which I do believe is possible, but one of the most difficult situations we've potentially ever been in, I'll even venture to say beyond Vietnam, because the world stage was set quite differently then and the nuclear threat was different. I want to see someone who won't alter the Constitution to define American family life, which has about a million different configurations and can no longer be bound by paper and law. I want something good, for the remaining years I've got.
I'm okay with this discussion on race and gender that we're having, and in fact I welcome it, because I think it's important. I also don't know why the fact that there is racial conflict - in South Carolina, no less- is such a shock, and I really don't think it is to any fairly self-aware person, beyond the MSM's manufacture of "shock". Spent any time down there? I have. Progressive pockets may indeed exist but the roots of segregation and racism run deep and insidiously, and I daresay (because it's not my home, just a beautiful place I take advantage of for its beaches and lowcountry spirit) it will take generations of change to set this right. It's the only place I've ever seen a black man sneered at and called "boy" by his white supervisor, not so many years ago, in a restaurant, for some slip-up that meant nothing. I felt it stab me right in my stomach, where painful words always go. I know - a one-shot deal, what do I know? But I know I saw it, I remember the faces and the paint color on the walls, and I know I've never forgotten it.
I know, also, because I see it at home, in a state where they laugh at us if we call ourselves "southern". Where I live, just outside of the nation's capital, there are new immigrant communities in the cities and the suburbs, even out to what they call the "exurbs" (yuck) and if you think the seeds of dissension and racial strife are not sown anew here as people must share space and turf, where bodegas are popping up on old stretches of farmland, where schools require ESOL programs and basic literacy for native speakers alike, I'll send you some news stories and we'll chat. This country's origin as an intentional melting pot has shifted and changed, spun and re-melted, in fact spins and re-melts right this very second, and here we sit in 2008, old, ignored wounds left to scar over, until - surprise - we have to discuss them. We have to fund the programs. We have to open the doors to our churches. We have to take the nativity scene down from in front of the government building. We have to speak - and hear - the language. Or not.
If this endless election season means anything, it's that finally topics are being discussed outright that are normally reserved for living rooms and quiet lunches with friends who we either know share our views so there's no challenge there, or who represent a culture or gender or whatever else different from ours that we care enough to push the boundaries of our comfort zones and discuss. They are awkward. They speak to our worst fears and our personal identities, our fairy tales about our communities and our country. They might make us feel guilty for what we've got or blinded by anger at what we don't. Good. Wake up. Talk about it. Sit squarely, preface it with "I don't know how you feel, but..." or "This is difficult for me to say," or "Correct me if I'm wrong." It won't kill you. Might even make you stronger.
A woman I know fairly well said the other night that she couldn't "see a female president." She couldn't SEE A FEMALE PRESIDENT. She couldn't SEE a woman making decisions of extreme national interest, including whether or not to go to war, or to vote a bill into law, or perhaps even deciding what shoes to wear. And she couldn't see this because she didn't think she'd be tough enough to do that, because she was a woman. She actually mentioned her menstrual cycle as a reason.
I had to sit down. I was completely shocked and considerably disappointed, and also reminded that I don't know, ever, what people are really thinking until they tell me. I told her she frightened me, because I know her well enough to say that. I also told her that I couldn't believe she was serious, and asked her if she'd read a newspaper over the past 20 years and noticed all the profound mistakes made by men AND women, all the wars waged by men for stupid reasons, who may or may not have been having a hormonal down day when they pulled the national trigger, and maybe should have slept on it and read the latest issue of GQ and downed some Haagen Daaz in the bathtub before they did anything so shit simple stupid as BREAK UP WITH A MIDDLE EASTERN LEADER, thereby ensuring the deaths of thousands of people in the process. The worst I've ever done in the throes of PMS is alienate a boyfriend or piss off my sister, then make an ill-advised hundred dollar purchase online.
There are as many battles to fight as we can create, unfortunately. And I think that this next one, this presidential race, is important on so many levels, as it creates an opportunity for someone to come in who will have a lot of cleaning up, and catching up, to do. The relative absence of the currently employed President in this whole thing is the most telling for me of what our current situation is. Where is he? No one seems to care. No mark has been left on national identity. There is no solidity in his leadership. The damage has been done. There is no torch to pass, which is clear from the disarray on the Republican side.
The South Carolina story is compelling because it reflects the disparity in experience for residents of the same state, the same country, a place where opportunity is supposed to be the same on every corner, but it's not. This has never been the case and no matter what political belief system we hold, or who we check off in the ballot box, it's something any person of conscience would do well to be reminded of now and again.
I - a 37 year old, white, student-loan buried, non-homeowning, female resident of an expensive coastal city - might vote for Hillary Clinton, but I support Barack Obama too, and I support his supporters, whatever their reasoning, as long as it is based in what they believe is right for them and for all of us. Either way it turns out, I'll get behind one of these people, and I'll cross my fingers and kiss them before I cross myself (my only collision of church and state, so whoever it is will get at least one lapsed-Catholic vote.) Because when it comes down to it, I support anyone who's trying to make a change, to move us past this ridiculous two-term trainwreck, to maybe give us something good to look forward to for the next four years. I hope they're not just saying it. I hope they mean it. I hope the politics of hope is everyone's politics on some level, and not just a buzz word. I hope it turns out - no matter how it turns out - for the better. And given how it's gone since 2000, I don't think that would just be wishing.
"Thompson delivered a speech that baffled even some supporters. Normally laid-back, he thundered on for 10 minutes in language that seemed to point to a withdrawal statement. But he abruptly ended the speech with "God bless you!" and walked off the stage.
There has been speculation for some time that Thompson would quit the race if he did not finish strongly in South Carolina, with the expectation that he would endorse McCain, whom he supported eight years ago."
Also, this caucus/primary scheduling thing is very confusing. I just can't believe that anything has to be this spread out, to the point where I'll be about to start my finals in the last semester of my master's degree by the time it's wrapping up - and I have two semesters plus a summer to go.
I enjoyed the Vegas/Nevada coverage, you know, except for the part where Romney won. The culinary worker's union folks were a spirited group - at least the ones were who were interviewed on the news. They were all "don't tell ME who I'm voting for. You'd best LISTEN to ME," which is pretty refreshing.
I thought the broadcast coverage was pretty good. Reports on the ground of racial and gender tension are disturbing but not at all surprising. People feel how they feel - we're just hearing it more clearly because of the Clinton/Obama competition. This Salon article by editor Joan Walsh is compelling.
"I think the union is gonna be very surprised," Paris banquet server Patricio Gajardo told me a few minutes later. "They misjudged the Hispanic population. We don't think with an accent," he said, adding, "Write that down." I wasn't clear what he meant, and he elaborated: "A lot of us come here, we don't speak much English, they think we're naive, and they take advantage of us. We may never lose our accent, but we don't think with an accent; we understand what's going on."
I think it was pretty clear what he meant.
Super Tuesday is going to be a very interesting day. (Primary calendar here.) I'm disappointed that Maryland doesn't vote - and again, this schedule makes no sense to me - until a full week later. And South Dakota is last - on June 3, whereas North Dakota braves the cold and joins the crowd on Feb.5. Again, makes no sense to me. I'm just really anxious for an outcome, already.