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Playing catch-up--Part 1--Politics

August 30th, 2008 (02:48 am)
optimistic

current mood: optimistic

Being away from home for most of ten days has left me trying to get my bearings. I'm having a really hard time reading my friends' list. I don't unfriend people for what they post and would never presume to tell people how to post, it's just that large numbers of entries in one day or long lists not behind a cut make things really hard for someone who's way behind in reading and/or commenting.

I'll live. But rather than try to find and comment on posts that I've read over the past ten days, I'll just touch on a few things that have struck me--though I think I'd better divide my posts by topic.



First--THANK YOU, David, for providing links to convention speeches. I was lucky enough to catch Michelle Obama's and Hillary Clinton's speeches while they were giving them, but I kept missing other speeches or tuning into the middle of them. We all know I'm a Democrat, but I'm sometimes a skeptical (never cynical!) Democrat, and if there were ever again to be a Republican candidate who I agreed with, I could cross party lines. I've done it for some judges in local elections. If you've paid attention, you know that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama was my first choice of a candidate--that was John Edwards, and look how that turned out!

Okay, crap, now I'm going to have to talk about John Edwards, so bear with me. Frankly, I've never had much interest in the bedrooms of any candidates, be they single, married, Democrat, Republican, in office, running for office, whatever. I know all the arguments about character and honesty and blah blah blah--no one has to explain any of that to me. But I don't expect political candidates to be anything other than human. I don't know why they should be held to a higher moral standard than anyone else. They are not ministers or priests or religious leaders of any type. Their jobs are in government, and though I would hope they are for the most part decent people, I don't have any more interest in delving into their sexual activities than those of the journalists who report on them, the police who lead their motorcades, or more randomly, the people in my dentist's office, the person who checks my groceries at Kroger, or the guy at my favorite Starbucks drive-through who always makes me laugh.

I've known some pretty freaking awesome people who've brought joy and comfort and goodness into the lives of countless others, and a lot of them had sexual histories that couldn't bear close scrutiny, either. Frankly, there are a lot of things in my own past I'd rather keep private, which means I can never run for anything, I guess.

Here's my measuring stick for candidates. Do you tell me what to do in MY bedroom? Do you try to legislate MY morality? No? Then we're good. When you start telling me how to be moral, then you'd best be pure as the driven snow. But if you're just another person like me, flawed, who's made mistakes, who am I to judge you? Would I vote for you? Depends on where you stand on the ISSUES that matter to me. Not one of the issues I care about has anything to do with who's fucking whom.

Regardless of what is BETWEEN JOHN AND ELIZABETH EDWARDS, John Edwards kept some important issues in the forefront of the campaign--health care, the financial burden on the shrinking middle class, poverty--and in so doing, forced other Democrats to stay on message on those things. So yay, Edwards. Here's my only issue with Edwards--and honestly, I probably wouldn't have thought about it if Tim hadn't brought it up. Edwards said he struggled with the idea of gay marriage because to him, marriage is between a man and a woman. I think maybe he shouldn't be deciding for anyone what marriage is, because a lot of people think marriage is a MONOGAMOUS relationship between two parties, regardless of gender. Then again, a lot of people DON'T think that, and only they can speak for their viewpoint. I just happen to think it's ridiculous that people are denied the CIVIL right of marriage because of who they want to marry, and I've never heard ANYONE who thought a church should be FORCED to marry gays or lesbians. This isn't about religion. It's about people receiving EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW even if we don't agree with them.

Okay, I'm done with Edwards and will get back to my point. Once he was out of the running, it was easy for me to shift my allegiance to Hillary. I understand and respect Hillary Clinton. I've read tons of stuff about her, and had the opportunity to watch her grow into her role as a very active First Lady who garnered world respect, often under the most trying of circumstances. I think she's a good senator for New York, and believe that in whatever capacity she serves our country, she will do right by us. Meanwhile, though I was reading as fast as I could about Barack Obama, he was still something of an unknown to me. I didn't dislike him. I just got caught up in other people's questions and doubts about him, and I wasn't sure it mattered.

Only then he became the presumptive Democratic nominee, and my interest got kicked into overdrive. I listened to why other people trusted him so passionately. Some of that was all emotion, all the moment, but a lot of smart people were saying good things about him. I listen to smart and well-informed people on all sides of an issue when I'm on a mission to get smarter. I definitely knew I had serious concerns about and philosophical differences with John McCain, so I knew I was going to vote for Obama, I just didn't feel all that great about it.

Frankly, the convention ended my doubts. It wasn't because Hillary threw her support behind him, either. First, I felt enormous respect for Michelle Obama when I heard her speak. I thought she was poised, articulate, and honest. She gave me insight into her life and her husband's life. I was very engaged by her. Then I watched Barack Obama's forty-five minute speech, and I felt exactly the way I did when I watched Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Al Gore speak. They made me remember why I'm a Democrat. They speak to the things that matter to me. The party platform more truly reflects my values, my beliefs, and my hopes for the future.

Beyond that, one thing really resonated with me because of my recent traveling. It's been a long time since I've driven through or visited small towns in other parts of the country, but I sure did it a lot in my home region, the Southeast. In every town, no matter how small, I saw statues and memorials to veterans (and not just Civil War veterans, though they were included). I'm a peace-loving person. I despise war as the ultimate form of waste of human life and potential. However, I acknowledge that sometimes diplomacy and sanctions don't work, and the only way to get justice is by force.

I have enormous respect for people who've served our country in times of peace and war, who have been willing to die to protect liberty and freedom. I think one of the most disheartening things about our country is how we are so quick to latch onto a slogan--"Support our troops!"--yet can be so negligent of the well-being of those very troops when they come home to us with visible and invisible wounds. If you haven't had a parent or some other loved one deal with trying to get veterans' benefits, you may not understand. If you don't live in an urban area where mentally and physically impaired vets sleep on the streets, maybe you don't get it. But I get it, and it shames me that as a nation, we can turn our backs on our vets.

Over the last eight years, as the daughter of a soldier, I looked on with horror as the neo-cons publicly excoriated men like Max Cleland, John Kerry, and EVEN JOHN McCAIN. I couldn't believe I'd lived long enough to watch a decorated Vietnam vet have his service to our country denigrated and mocked while the son of a rich man, who'd weaseled out of going to Vietnam and then thumbed his nose at the very organization who was helping him avoid combat by failing to appear for duty and squandering his time abusing alcohol and other substances, was treated as a hero.

Quite honestly, that was one time I was relieved my father was dead.

I contrast the shameful treatment of John Kerry by Republicans in 2004 with the way Democrats spoke of John McCain at the convention in Denver. To a person, they praised his military service to the U.S. They may not agree with ninety percent of his decisions as a senator, but they showed him respect both as a former Navy captain and a former prisoner of war.

I appreciate that.

I've had a hard year. I haven't always paid attention or kept myself current the way I usually do when it comes to politics. But my focus is clear now, and I can vote in good conscience for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

And now that I've gotten national events out of the way, I can post about all the other stuff. But not tonight; I'm sleeeepy!

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