I rarely vote for a presidential candidate based on his or her own merits. Inevitably, I’ve learned that they will always disappoint once in office, like most other politicians, and all I can hope for is someone who will at least stem the tide of overwhelming stupidity and acceptance of ignorance in political culture and our dealings with the world, if only for a few years. This has largely meant voting a straight Democratic Party ticket, and will again tomorrow, for reasons I will elaborate on — but regardless of whether you agree with me or not, please go out and vote tomorrow. It’s the least you can do as a citizen.
That Democratic Party ticket has not come without some head-hanging, usually at the lack of spine present in its politicians, particularly those selected to run for the Oval Office. This has been the case since I first became eligible to vote: Al Gore, John Kerry, even back to Michael Dukakis before him and my time as a voter — all Democrats, all withotut that much of a political fighting bone in their bodies. Bill Clinton, despite the things I didn’t like about him economically, at least fought for the basic ideals behind the domestic goals.
Now, at least Barack Obama is a fighter, and I’ll be able to vote with a clear head and for someone as opposed to a vote completely against John McCain. But tomorrow is a chance to repudiate the noxious mess of the past eight years, where George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and a cadre of cads basically decided post-9/11 that a perversion of the Constitution in favor of extreme power of the executive branch was necessary and what they desired. What died on their watch: habeus corpus, our refusal as a nation to torture, the respect of other countries, and the concept of sound policy — all thrown into the fire as a sacrifice to Karl Rove’s eternal campaign. Essentially, that eternal campaign left us with one unnecessary war that distracted from the real fight, the denial of science and logic in favor of pure ideological ignorance, and, in the complete denouement of more than two decades of voodoo economics, the current economic meltdown, in which we should be thrilled if it manages to only be a recession.
I have never been predisposed to vote for anyone running under the Republican Party banner, and this is because the party at large is still in thrall of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, sneering at the lower class, the non-white, and more than ready to trot out the usual code words against anyone not of them. This is what happens when conservatism, as practiced by Ronald Reagan on, has failed miserably. John McCain, despite years of claiming his status as a man who supposedly bucks this nature of the GOP, is more than happy now to exploit its boogeymen in a lack of any concrete ideas — say your liberal opponent will raise your taxes, put us in danger, and rely on a stupid, incessant trope of an Everyman, even when that Everyman is nothing like the biography he originally put forward. But what am I supposed to expect from a candidate who selects a complete idiot as his running mate in a cynical ploy to grab the base he so decried, led by hucksters who prove that it is truly a shame that P.T. Barnum never took up organized religion?
If Obama wins, it will be nice to see not because of his policies, per se, although they help. (I am still disappointed in his supporting the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, and of course, still waiting for a Democratic candidate who isn’t ashamed to express support for same-sex marriage.) It is because some return to sanity and intelligence in the Oval Office would be a nice change, as well as a hope that a Harvard Law-educated lawyer would have some respect for the separation of powers, and might hire people interested in actual policy and solutions.
Since the late 70s and the ascendancy of Reagan, there has been a toxic ideal that government is run better by people who loathe government and want to keep it from performing the basic services that it is supposed to. If the naivete of this approach was not evident in the morass after Hurricane Katrina, it should be in our current economic mess, directly related to a willy-nilly desire borne from faith that deregulating every manner of the financial world would provide for all, rather than collapse on itself.
The process of governing is in better hands when it is in the hands of people who believe it has uses to provide for the common good. Obama’s rhetoric has talked about getting the government to work for us again, which is important when the current occupants believe that government must only work for them, and no one else. I vote knowing how pissed off that made me; anger can be power if you know that you can use it. Turn those clapping hands into angry, balled fists, and keep them with you as you enter the booth, remembering how much the current people in charge have decided that it was their birthright to fuck you over, to send you to die for a lie, to steal for their friends and lie to you about who was a real American and who wasn’t.
So now, I say it’s worth it if only to slow the tide, if only to hope that maybe we come out of the fog where the idea of the president as “Commander-in-Chief” is not fetishized, if only to stop the concept of ignorance as a virtue, if only to stop the fucking bleeding, if only to ensure that the last eight years are viewed as the aberration they rightly are in the history books, if only to get back the respect we squandered in the rest of the civilized society, and if only to get back what we allowed the current administration to take from us.