Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Big Fat Political Rant Part II

Finally, a response to my ranting post – from someone NOT a part of the choir – about Hillary Clinton supporters deciding to vote for McCain because Obama is now the Democratic Party candidate.

A few disclaimers – for one, this is a long read. Brace yourselves. If you choose not to read through this post in it’s’ entirety, I understand. But, don’t go off on me if you haven’t read it all.

Secondly – Brad, I’m responding in this public forum for two reasons – you left a semi-anonymous comment, and also because I want to invite anyone who reads this blog to have their input. Knowing that most people don’t go back to the original comments, I want to be sure that anyone with any interest in this topic whatsoever does have the chance to read this exchange.

Thirdly – I can be hot-headed and definitely stubborn, but this is the kind of exchange that I love. Brad, I know that you have strong convictions – as do I. I welcome your thoughts, comments and opinions. Just because I am strongly voicing mine doesn’t mean that I am invalidating yours. My arguing with you doesn’t mean that I am right and you are wrong – big difference of opinion, but I welcome learning from others, whether we change each other’s opinions or not.

Before I address Brad’s questions – which are good ones – I do want to say that, as I mentioned in my original post, I have long been a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I felt that she was a stronger candidate, had more experience in the Senate and in the White House, and aligned more closely with what I wanted in a President. To be honest – I never faulted the fact that she never got down on her knees and begged forgiveness for voting to send our country to war. Like all of us, she was presented with information – lies, really – about the reason that we should go to war. She voted based on what she believed to be true, based on her beliefs in this country and our Constitution, based on what she was led to believe was right and honest and in our best interests. The fact that she did so solidifies in my mind that she is strong, stands behind her convictions, and doesn’t back down even when facts that are brought to our attention show that the original information provided by our leaders prove to be false. That was not her fault – it was the current administration’s fault. A massively huge, massively false, massively and intentionally lie-filled fault. While I do wish that she had addressed the issue better, I do not fault someone for making a decision based on what they felt was correct at the time.

I’ve always loved Barack Obama’s energy, his vision, his power as a speaker, his appeal to the minorities (not all, but in a general sense) of this country. And I’ve been sensitive – hyper-sensitive, perhaps – to the fact that a lot of his critics seem to dismiss him not based on his policies, beliefs, or experience, but based on things like his racial background. The religious background of his father. His upbringing. “He’s a Muslim”. (Not true – and even if it were, not pertinent). “He’s elitist”. (I also don’t believe this to be true – not in the sense that the current leadership is elitist). “He’s really the anti-Christ” (hat tip to Chris, who pointed out that having God’s Warrior in the White House these past eight years has plunged the country into a death spiral). I think Obama is more in touch with the realities of the working class and the torrential struggles facing them (um – us, actually) and the struggles that face all minorities than Ms. Clinton can ever be. Her good intentions don’t make up for the fact that she can’t ever actually experience being a minority, other than for the glass ceiling that women in this world have to constantly look up at and try to break through. I’m not downplaying that fact – but I do believe that sexism in America has come a lot further than racism, religious bias, and homo-phobia have come in the past few decades.

And – I have been, from the very beginning – worried about the fact that Obama is NOT the experienced enough candidate for this office. Maybe in the next election … or the next. But Ms. Clinton had more under her belt, so to speak. I agree with that.

However – I am an adamant enough Democrat to know that I will never cross party lines. I’ve tried to be open-minded in this. I was raised in a Republican household. My Dad and I fought bitterly about this many times, and had to agree to disagree so that we could still speak to each other. I have been shown year after year after year that the base values of the Republican Party have nothing to do with my beliefs and my well-being.

I do not believe in privilege for the rich – the “haves” versus the “have-nots”. I do not believe that the majority of people on welfare are there by their own choosing. I have lived for over ten years in a neighborhood that is historically black, historically (for the past few decades) poverty-stricken, historically violent. We are still fighting drug dealing, prostitution, gang violence, random shootings and a ghetto-mentality on the street where I live. But I have come to realize, by walking in this neighborhood, riding the bus with these people, being exposed 24/7 to this atmosphere, that this is simply where they have been placed by our society. They have children at an appallingly young age – because that’s what they know. They hang out together on street corners and in the liquor store parking lot – because that is what they know. They join gangs before high school – because that is what they know, and is the only way to survive a few years longer than if they didn’t. They drop out of school, because they know of no way to get further in life – there’s no way in hell they can afford college, get a job, get out of the life they’re in – because that is what they know. They wander across the middle of a major street, pimp-rolling and oblivious to the fact that they could get killed by rush-hour traffic – because that is what they know. There is nowhere to go, no direction, no hope, so why rush? Why get out of other people’s way when no one has ever gotten out of their way? This whole slow, hopeless, meandering, hate-and-violence-filled life is all they know. I hear of some people who fault them, saying that if they had only gone to college, earned a degree, and made something of themselves – while investing wisely – they would be in the mess they are in. This is disgustingly ignorant. If you’re white, upper-middle-class or above, and reasonably intelligent, this might make sense. But this description doesn’t fit the world outside of those believers’ neighborhood. THAT belief is elitist.

I do not believe in our nation being controlled by Christian ideals. Sure, the Ten Commandments and many of the teachings of the bible are spot-on. But what of the Tao? What of the pagans? What of the Jews? What of, believe it or not in our head-in-the-sand world, the Koran? The Muslim ideal, aside from the fanatics, is not of hate and war and destruction and suicide bombings. And in the Christian world, who is “right”? The Methodists? The Catholics? The Baptists? The Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Unitarians, the Wesleyans, the Mennonites? Is there some far-away possibility that part of ALL OF US is “right”?

I do not believe in the power of strength. I do not believe that the bully is the morally, socially, politically, spiritually superior one in the sandbox. “May the best man win” is a cool idea if taken literally, but how do we determine “best”? Strongest? Most persistent? The one with the most deadly toys in the end? To those who love to quote the bible, what of “the meek shall inherit the earth”? Is it possible that the down-trodden are the strongest in the end?

I do not believe in every man for himself. I do not believe that it is up to each individual to forge his way through this life with no consideration or aid or sympathy or empathy from the rest of us. We are all created equal … let me repeat that, WE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL … but that does not mean that we are all given the same, equal, benevolent tools in which to deal with life on this earth. I believe that it is up to us as a whole, as humans, as a society, as a planet, to ensure that we all have our fair share of opportunities. This isn’t Marxist, or Communist, or heathen. This is fairness. This is watching out for your fellow man. This is acknowledging the fact that we are brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers fathers aunts uncles fellow humans. We’re all here together, we’re all fighting some horrible fight, we all need each other and no single one of us is better than the rest of us. We’re only as strong as our weakest. I believe that no one person on this earth is better than I am, no matter my strengths/weaknesses/failings/mistakes/skin color/sexual orientation/net worth. No one.

I do not believe that the greater good should not take care of the rest of us. As much as I would love for more of my salary to go directly to me, I do not for a second begrudge the fact that my property taxes fund our schools – even though I do not have children. I do not begrudge the fact that my city and county taxes pay for buses and roads that I do not use. I do not begrudge the fact that my taxes pay for a DEFENSIVE military. I do not begrudge the fact that I pay for people who cannot make ends meet, who cannot feed their children and themselves, for people who have been injured and disabled on the job, in a war, in a car accident. My partner and I have had to subsist with unemployment. Our family members have had to rely on social security and Medicaid. We have had to rely on aid that is driven by taxation on all of our citizens, and they have had to rely on us. I wouldn’t take a cent of it back.

I realize this post is full of what I do NOT believe in.

I DO believe in privilege for everyone. The same access to healthcare, to education, to the same civil rights that don’t hurt others, to OPPORTUNITY.

I DO believe in respecting others and their beliefs, in treating each other equally and like fellow human beings, of accepting others and their values that respect our own.

I DO believe in standing up for what we believe in, for defending our rights and values, as long as they do not destroy the rights and values of others who also respect us.

I DO believe that we need to watch out for each other, that we need to recognize that there is always someone less privileged than us, who needs and deserves our help so that we can all have the same chance at happiness and fulfillment as each other.

I DO believe that we all, in some way, need to rely on each other at some point in our lives, and that we should be able to do so without feeling inadequate. Because you never know who will need your help at some point – and oh, how the mighty can fall. And when they do, they may want to rethink their stance.

Brad's original comment in italics:

Why would Hillary Clinton supporters cross party lines ...

(1) What, in his years of public service, has Barak Obama done for the people of Illinois?

Honestly, he wasn’t known to make an impact on the state as a whole. He did help with regulations against predatory lending, payday loan abuse, and regulations to help stop racial profiling.

(2) How does two years and nine months of service in the US Senate qualify Barak Obama to hold the highest office in the US and for that matter, the free world?

As I said above regarding my initial support of Senator Clinton, I do not think he has the experience that other candidates have had. However, I do think that his support and fight for the common people is something that is sorely needed as a break from the past eight years of favoritism of the wealthy and privileged. This is more important to me than his experience in the federal sector, both because it is sorely needed, and because having experience in this sector has proven to be immaterial in the success of a president. Also, I believe that the experience of the members of the Cabinet and Supreme Court have the most influence than the President. That is in part why the branches have been set up the way they have.

(3) How can you say that you support the GLBT community yet surround yourself with ANTI-GLBT individuals on a regular, on-going basis?

Obama has had supporters and allies who have been found to be homophobic. While I do not favor him for those alliances, he has also been public about breaking away from those individuals. He has also spoken publicly about homosexuality not being a choice, rights for homosexual couples being federal rather than decided by each state, same-sex unions being no threat to opposite-sex unions, and sexual orientation being a valid component of hate-crimes legislation.

(4) What has Barak Obama done in his private/personal life to help humankind?

Obama spent his early years in his law career as a community organizer for poor neighborhoods in Chicago, helping with tenants’ rights, job training and college preparatory tutoring. He directed a voter registration coalition in the poverty-stricken Altgeld Gardens projects in Chicago. He has also served on the boards of civil-rights groups in the same city.

(5) Why is it that when Barak Obama is in a debate that he bobbles and weaves when answering direct questions?

I think this is a matter of opinion. Politicians do try to answer in the manner that will not alienate anyone. I wish he was perfect, but I will give you this one. However, his “bob and weave” disturbs me far less than McCain’s flipping.

(6) How is it that Barak Obama's campaign can slander and malign Bill & Hillary Clinton and you Obama people just expect their supporters to run with open arms to the man?

Honestly, I don’t expect Ms. Clinton’s supporters to run with open arms. Just as I would absolutely not expect Obama’s supporters to do the same had Clinton earned the nomination. No politician has ever run a “clean” campaign, and I do not consider any candidate’s campaign to be squeaky-clean and with no dirt thrown. The nature of the evil game, I think. But what I don’t understand is Clinton supporters thinking that Clinton DID run a squeaky-clean, no-dirt-thrown campaign and are now crying foul. She and Bill did their share of mudslinging. If I used that as my litmus test, I’d have thrown her under the train months ago, and Obama as well. I’ve chosen to do neither.

Why am I now crossing party lines to vote for John McCain? As a moderate Democrat, I can embrace a moderate Republican ... what I cannot embrace is Barak Obama's lack of experience, lack of empathy for the GLBT community by his associations with anti-GLBT individuals within his own campaign and for me, it's not a matter of his race ... it's a matter of trust. I do not trust him. Period.

And while we're talking about how voting Democratic will save the US ... what the HELL is going on in the Democratic-controlled US Congress?????? They've DONE NOTHING to reverse the damage created by the Republicans. NADA. ZILCH.

Change is more than just standing in front of thousands of people spouting it's time for change -- change is about knowing where we've been and what it will take to get us to where we should be going ...

That is all.

No, that’s not all. Please be so kind as to answer for your new man McCain.

(1) What has John McCain done for the people of the United States of America?
(2) What qualifies him as the highest office of the United States?
(3) What are Mr. McCain’s strongest points that will further civil rights for the GLBT community? How have his alliances with vehemently anti-GLBT personalities strengthened your support for him in this area? Who are the people with whom he has since allied who favor equality for the GLBT community?
(4) What are Mr. McCain’s greatest achievements in developing and helping humankind?
(5) What are Mr. McCain’s strengths in his speeches and in the way he gives direct and consistent answers to direct questions?
(6) While mis-speaking is an understandable result of being a public persona, presidential candidate and someone under the worlds’ microscope for so long, are you comfortable with some mis-spoken items such as “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” and calling one’s own wife a c*nt in public.

As far as the Democratic Congress - agreed. I would like to see a huge change in what has happened since they took power. But - it's still a slim margin. We have a majority, but there are enough moderates who can be swayed by whatever is the ideal-du-jour. Too left, too right, too "California", too whatever. If it were a majorly-shifted, liberal Democratic Congress, that would be one thing. A majorly-shifter, conservative Congress, another thing altogether. It's a Democratic Congress - period. Trying to keep it's head above water, trying to survive and flourish, with years of conservative Republicanism to wade through. I'm suprised they've been able to do what they have. I want more, obviously. But, I'm surprised a moderate Democrat such as you is bothered by that. What changes do you want them to make? How have you addressed this to your Congressmen/Women? I assume you've been involved in making changes as well.

More dialogue? Anyone? Please?


Dave2 said...

I have less a problem with McCain's politics than I do with his betrayal of MIA/POWs. You'd think since he was a POW, he'd be fighting to find out what happened to those still missing. Wrong. MIA/POW advocacy groups regularly list him as one of their biggest obstacles to the truth. He's done whatever he can to keep records sealed and halt friends and family from finding out what happened to their loved ones. Some war hero.

So, do I want a betrayer of our military with a legendary temper as Commander in Chief? Not really. Aren't we in enough trouble already?

Chris said...

I don’t have any reason to trust any politicians, period. I don’t trust McCain more than Obama or vice-versa.

When it comes right down to it, Obama is an unproven politician. So was JFK. In my mind, however, it’s a simple choice of the devil I know vs. the devil I don’t. And, frankly? I’ve seen what the devil I know is capable of, and I don’t like it.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that, while Obama may not be the savior his supporters claim he is, he’s certainly not going to be worse than what we’ve had for the past eight years. The mere fact that he recognizes the country is on the wrong path–and hasn’t been along for the ride and is now actively trying to pretend he hasn’t–is enough for me.

(Much longer version on my blog).

Palm Springs Savant said...

wow you weren't kidding on it being a long one! It has been a very intersting political season (so far) with puh-lenty more to come. I enjoy politics, but I have learned not to trust politicians- ever.

Cincy Diva said...

Bill Clinton was also said to be too inexperienced for the job of president.
The maligning of the Clintons was more from Obama's campaign people, as was the maligning of Obama from Hilary's
My 74 year old mother lives 90 miles from the Mexican border and is a staunch Republican. She is finding it very hard to vote for McCain because he has left the people of AZ hanging in the wind as far as illegal immigartion and protecting the borders goes. She's waiting to see who the running mates will be. If McCain picks wrong, she's voting for Obama.

john said...

Hi, I don't really like politics, but I do want to say hello!

jo said...

Great observations. I'm not active politically, so I appreciate the discussion you raise. I agree that experience isn't my biggest issue, because a good cabinet will hopefully advise wisely. As part of the working poor, I want to believe in the possibility of change for our country. I'm going with Obama.

Scooter said...

And that so you'll know, Brad, and your children will one day know, is the night the lights went out in Georgia.

Michael said...

Okay, I'm totally on board with you politically. Here's where I disagree: I do not believe Hillary Clinton voted for the war because she thought it was the right thing to do. I believe she voted for it because she did not want to appear to be weak on defense when she inevitably ran for president. Other, more senior Democrats whose senate seats were secure and with no presidential aspirations, voted agains the war in favor of letting the UN complete their investigations. Hillary did not. I think she thought, like the first Gulf War, that it would be a popular cause. This backfired on her and that's what happens when you vote with an ulterior motive rather than on principle. Someone who makes decisions this way cannot be trusted. Just like when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act just before the '96 election. Remember that one? Nice, right?

Also, I have a HUGE beef with Brad's misconception (and the gay community's in general) that Barack Obama surrounds himself with anti-gay religious figures of is anti-gay himself. THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE! His campaign made one misstep early on when they asked a gospel singer associated with the ex-gay movement to make three campaign appearances in South Carolina. Someone dropped the ball there, admittedly, but as soon as this information came out, the Obama campaign severed ties with him.

Reverend Wright, for all the headaches he's caused the campaign IS NOT ANTI GAY. On the contrary, he is among the few black religious leaders who preaches tolerance, acceptance and equality for the LGBT to his congregation and others and always has. He has a long history of good work with the AIDS and LGBT community in Chicago. This is all a matter of public record. Do the research.

Barack Obama has mentioned "our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters" in his speeches more than any other presidential candidate this primary season. Period. Way more Hillary.

This leads me to believe that Brads misconception that Obama is anti-gay is not based on any fact on record, but rather, more likely on a racist belief that black people hate gays. There. I said it. It's racist.