Friday, August 29, 2008

Where Do I Begin?

Several of you have e-mailed me today to guage my reaction to both Obama's electrifying speech last night and McCain's sucker-punch selection of Sarah "No, Really, I'm NOT Tina Fey" Palin. I've spent pretty much all day processing that and trying to figure out a way to put all of what I'm thinking and feeling into words.

Let's start with the good stuff, shall we?

I thought the DNC extravaganza last night was truly amazing. I felt electrified all evening, even before Barack Obama took the stage. Throughout the past years, my love and admiration and respect for Al Gore has grown immensely. I was not a huge Al Gore fan in early 2000, and I really don't know why, particularly as I'm such a fan of the cerebral candidate. (I mean, hell, I cried myself to sleep over Michael Dukakis. MICHAEL DUKAKIS!!!) I supported Bill Bradley in the 2000 primary partly because I liked the guy's ideas and partly out of some sort of resentment that everyone just assumed Gore would be the candidate and I really hate feeling like my vote means nothing. (I have a history of voting for the "other guy" in primaries -- Bob Kerrey in 1992, Bill Bradley, Dennis Kucinich. I finally got it right this year!) Anyway, by the time the 2000 DNC came along, I had come to terms with Gore being the candidate, got on board the party train, was charmed by "the kiss", and voted for him like a good Democrat. I didn't become "passionate" about Gore's candidacy until Florida. Over the years, Gore's transformation from "automatronic joke" to a Nobel Prize winning statesman has been truly inspiring. Sometimes, I think I love him more than Bill Clinton -- and I love Bill Clinton. Gore's self-depricating wit and intelligence charm me. I want to have dinner with Al Gore. I think it would be a fascinating conversation. With that said, I obviously was quite moved by his speech last night. Al Gore has handled the theft of his victory in 2000 with such grace, but last night was the first time in a long time when I cried over it -- on behalf of him and on behalf of this country. I think that sometimes we really feel like the president is far removed from our daily lives, that who we elect, in the end, really doesn't matter because they're all the same and their power sometimes seems almost non-existent when it comes to our lives. If you still believe that, watch this and tell me that a Gore presidency wouldn't have made a difference in your life today and a difference in the life of America. This should have been his victorious farewell speech, and instead, it was a sad reminder of a lost America.

That makes it even more crucial to elect Barack Obama. His speech last night was one of the finest things I've ever seen -- and I've seen a lot of great speeches. (Ugh! Listen to me! Pretentious much??) He hit every note he needed to hit. It was a speech filled with vision and compassion and courage and determination. For the first time in a long time, I felt valued and cared for as an American citizen and that someone out there was going to fight for me and protect me. I admire Barack Obama for a lot of things, but last night, I admired him for not backing down, for taking this fight and smashing it like a grapefruit right in John McCain's face. I don't know that I've ever felt this proud to be a Democrat before, and I am a pretty proud nearly lifelong Democrat -- going back to Election Night 1976 when I danced around our living room in my Bullwinkle pajamas singing a song I made up about how much I loved Jimmy Carter. I was 5, and outside of those "parroting my parents" years when I thought Ronald Reagan was the bomb-diggity (cut me some slack -- I was 9!), I've been a Democrat ever since. One thing that often frustrates me about my party is our insistence to play nice. Not that I'm advocating mudslinging and swift boating, but it was so disheartening four years ago to see John Kerry continually get kicked in the groin and never once even put on a cup to try to protect himself. I firmly believe that one of the biggest reasons why Gore lost in 2000 was that the party tried to play it too safe in Florida. Rather than demanding that the votes be recounted, they hemmed and hawed and ended up getting the rug pulled right out from underneath them because the Republicans do NOT play nice. They are the party of Lee Atwater and James Baker, a party that will push up their sleeves and fight until there's no one left standing. I'm Irish; I believe in a good fight. Last night, Obama showed me that he believes in a good fight, too. A good, fair fight that's based on issues and ideals rather than trumped up b.s. like who's more patriotic. This is going to be the most exciting election in my lifetime, but we need to fasten our seat belts, folks, because it's going to be a bumpy, bloody ride.

John McCain proved THAT this morning when he announced his selection for VP. First of all, let me applaud the McCain camp for something -- they shocked the hell out of just about everyone. This morning, CNN had all but crowned Minnesota governer Tim Pawlenty. NPR seemed convinced that Mitt Romney had received the call. Both mentioned allusions to a "dark horse" but both even had that "dark horse" identified as Meg Whitman. So you can imagine my shock when I opened an email from Danielle (Danielle, did you know that you technically broke the news to me? This teaching thing is really cutting into my amatuer political pundit time spent pouring over the pages of the Huffington Post and nytimes.com) with the subject line that said, "A woman?" and I hurriedly went to cnn.com to find out it was Sarah Palin. I seriously said "That son of a bitch!" out loud. (Thank goodness it was between classes and no students were around!)

There's a part of me that's devastated because I share in Jen's fear that this could be the thing that ruins this election for Obama and consign us to four more years of Republican shenanigans. There's a part of me that's angry for that reason and because this is such a manipulative move on the part of McCain. He did not pick Sarah Palin for her beliefs. He picked her because she has a vagina. What she brings to the table idealogically is irrelevant. She is, to put it more bluntly, a token, and that offends me on so many different levels. On top of it, she's a flippin' beauty queen?!?!?!? What a great message to send to girls already struggling with self-esteem issues and body isues. "Hey girls, you can be anything you want to be. You can even be one heart beat away from the presidency -- as long as you're pretty!" First the ugly kid can't sing the Chinese National Anthem, and now this!

Let me close this lengthy post with this impassioned plea to those wavering Hillary supporters out there: I know you're upset that Hillary did not win. I've been there. I know that frustration. I know that you believe there was a lot of gender bias at play. I know that it will be tempting for you to vote for McCain now that there is this attractive, charming woman who seems so much like you -- a "hockey mom" who's risen to power in a disproportionately male state. Just promise me one thing before you vote -- promise me you'll vote with your head and not with your vagina. Investigate this woman, look at what she stands for. She may share your gender but she may not share your ideals. This woman will be one heartbeat away from the presidency, and just because she's a woman, it doesn't mean she's going to fight for the things you believe in. As angry as you may be that Obama did not pick Hillary to be his vice president, at least he picked someone who shares the values and ideals of Hillary's party -- your party. Joe Biden is a good man who has fought for us for 35 years in the Senate. Vote with knowledge, vote with your head, vote the way you know will help heal this fractured nation of ours.

Thank you.

4 comments:

Danielle Mari said...

I'm laughing so hard I'm crying... and applauding your rant. And amen-ing your sentiment.

How is it that with arguably the finest candidate we've had in our lifetimes, we're sitting here YET AGAIN hoping against hope that the American public can freaking see through stupid "stale tactics" that Obama warned us about in his speech?

Jen said...

Awesome analysis, again. Add another amen to the chorus.

I've decided that I am going to kill two birds with one stone tonight--I'm going to tell Barack Obama what I thought of his speech and John McCain what I thought of his VP pick by giving a donation to the Obama campaign.

Mel said...

Rock on, Jen!!!!

We all just have to be out there -- loud and proud and speaking truth to power. (Does anyone really know what "speaking truth to power" means? I just like that it sounds cool.)

dbz said...

back in the blogs finally and very happy to read you!! you danced with me in 1992 - I'm praying we can dance together this year as well!