Saturday, August 30, 2008

Periodically, When I'm Feeling Down I Get Angry

J. Goff at I am Jack’s Non-Blog says this is what Obama needs:







I don't believe those are listed in order of importance. I get the distinct impression the #1 issue is sexism. Visit any widely-read feminist blog, find a post about sexism in politics or the media, and watch the fireworks fly in the comment threads.

All of us progressives are, and should be, angry about a multitude of issues. I've been angry since J. Goff was still in his mother's womb, so trust me when I say I'm in touch with what needs to change in this nation.

I'm also a realist on some level and I know there is never going to be the perfect candidate running for any political office. There are 300 million Americans and 300 million different ideas about how to address the problems, let alone fix them! The question is this: are we going to start correcting even a few of them in 2009, or are we going to allow a single hot-button issue to destroy what may be our best hope for real leadership in our lifetime? Or am I just spewing more "hype?"

How many angry feminists does it take to swing an election the wrong way as the result of voting one's conscience or not voting at all? Who knows. This may be a year in which we learn the answer. Feminists don't like having the guilt-card played on them, nor would anyone else. And they are quick to point out that their individual vote is their individual personal choice and their business. I wholeheartedly agree. But there is a "but."

Since I brought up womb earlier, let me tell you what I think.

What you do with your body is your own business and I'm fighting hard to keep that right for you. How you cast your vote is your own business and I'm fighting hard to make certain that vote is, at the very least, actually counted. Your reproductive choices, even as a group of millions, have no recognizable impact on my life whatsoever. On the other hand, your vote as a group most definitely impacts my life and the lives of millions of others who are desperately seeking a new direction for the US. And this is where I get mightily annoyed with some of my feminist colleagues for the same reason I feel raging anger at fundamentalists and other neocons who make the election about preserving the sanctity of marriage and putting God back in the classroom. John McCain picked Sarah Palin for several reasons and I can assure you her position against reproductive freedom was right near the top of that list.

Regardless of who wins in November, even if it's Cynthia McKinney, we are going to be fighting sexism, racism, misogyny, capital punishment, corruption, lobbyists, offshore drilling, global warming, creationists, homophobia, discrimination against the transgendered, right-wing radio hosts, immigration policies, the loss of jobs, warmongering for profit, and a host of whackjobs in every corner of Congress. And I'm certain I didn't name at least 40 other injustices.

In a reply to a commenter on his post, J. Goff had this to say:

I will die for my country. I will not vote for Obama, though, until he starts talking progressively instead of dealing with centralist bullshit.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of politics these days, "centralist bullshit" is what we put up with until such time as a progressive cloaked in "centralist bullshit" can get elected. Politicians will do and say what they have to in order to appeal to the greatest number of voters. And that, much to my never ending dismay, is always going to involve a move to the "center" which is particularly irksome when the current center resides at the 35 yard line of the opposing team thanks largely to almost 30 years of Reagan and the Bush family. Sadly, Clinton didn't move that center as much as he could and should have.

I have spent the bulk of my voting life as a single-issue conscience voter. When I learned that Obama and Biden are both supporters of capital punishment I wasn't sure I could cast my ballot for that ticket. But this year I realized we have too much at stake for me to walk away in disgust. (I will not support them financially with any donation; I have to draw the line somewhere.)

J. Goff does have the benefit of being 25 which is young enough to hope for another chance or two for change in his lifetime even if this one isn't viewed by him as worth it because the candidate is perceived to be throwing women under the bus. (Or supports strapping people -- mostly black men -- into an electric chair, or pumping them with a toxic cocktail.)

Perhaps when J. Goff is my age, 48, and realizing that nothing much has changed, he'll also be getting fast and furiously fed up with waiting for.... something...before reaching retirement age.

I don't like taking baby steps and I really don't like even small compromise when it comes to politics this year. But I am taking a leap of faith because I am desperate for a glimpse of something different, an improvement, a sign of intelligent life in the White House. Being able to relax for awhile without worrying that a member of the Supreme Court is going to drop dead under a Bush or McCain watch is a nice perk.

Under all these circumstances, I am frankly astonished that sexism seems to be a focal point of the resistance to Obama given the fact that sexism is ingrained in our culture. It's not like the guy is out peddling this garbage although I am dismayed if his supporters are doing it.

It's great that the issue is finally getting more attention this year than I've ever seen in previous years, even if it is limited mostly to genuine feminist blogs (as opposed to say, a feminist group like Palin's Feminists for Life. But positive change has to start somewhere. And we must continue to push and fight for the changes we so sorely need. The ultimate question is: which candidate is most likely to listen?

In the end, if McCain is victorious, he and Sarah Palin (only the VP for as long as McCain's ticker keeps ticking) will shred this country for another four years, and it could even be worse than 8 years under Bush. I firmly believe it would be worse.

Such a victory could easily send a signal to future Democrats that the only way to have a chance of being elected is to move more to the right.

Or it could make Democrats so angry, and maybe enough moderate Republicans, to finally swing this country around in the 2012 elections with a progressive candidate who is more explicit with his or her policies, and never, ever says anything remotely sexist, and manages to finally unite the left and center as one big happy family.

I'm not banking on the latter. That's what I was certain 2004 was supposed to be.

Let's ALL get out this November, stand before that touch-screen and vote your conscience, be it McCain/Palin, Obama/Biden, McKinney/Clemente, or another. All I ask is that you let your conscience consider the bigger picture.

If the election tilts to McCain by a slim margin in one state, just don't tell me, or the millions of others who are ready to seize this moment, not to get angry if a few thousand voters in that state were refusing to support Obama because of a dogwhistle.

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