Friday, April 18, 2008

Democracy in America

I didn't get around to posting yesterday because I was very busy with church, target practice, and border patrol. I hope my laxness didn't make anyone bitter. Here in my small Pennsylvania town, politics is the topic of the month. Politics is always the talk of the month here; in the absence of a national contest, local politics takes over. Because of a need to DVR two shows at once Wednesday night (and I'm not going to say what they are because it's extremely embarrassing) I watched the debate in a bar. Reactions were varied, my own included.

There really isn't a lot of difference between Clinton and Obama in terms of platform. Their similitude means that this whole thing is about the unquantifiable: electablity, character, style, personal taste. The media can make this a referendum on race and gender, and maybe that plays into it in subconscious ways, but I tend to think a number of people will be voting Tuesday for the candidate that they just "like" better.

I never care whether or not I "like" a candidate. I'm not voting for a dinner party guest. I'm never going to meet, let alone befriend, any of these people. In most elections, the differences between candidates are discernable, and I vote for the person who best represents my beliefs. In this instance, both candidates represent my beliefs closely enough that I'll vote for either one of them in November. Who do I vote for Tuesday, then?

Many pundits criticized the first 40 minutes of the debate for focusing on surrounding controversies like lies, Weathermen, and flag pins, and not on the "issues." In some ways these controversies are the issues though. Do I vote for the person who, to put it kindly, stretched the truth, or the person who either can't or won't apologize for belittling small-town working people? They've both stretched the truth, and I know that words are slippery things that can be interpreted various ways. So to me, the decision is made not by buying into one candidate or the other's evasive explanations, but by buying into the tone in which those explanations are delivered. Ultimately, it is about "liking," even if neither will be coming to dinner any time soon.

The concern about the primaries continuing on is that issues get buried beneath questions of personality when the two candidates remaining are so close in opinion. The concern is that by the end of it voters will have learned all the reasons to not "like" either Democrat. Maybe this is a positive, though. At this early stage, Americans know the weaknesses of both Clinton and Obama; by June, they will have been hashed over and over in the press, perhaps to the point where no one will be listening. McCain's character flaws will at that point be fresh news.

What I want in the end, come January 2009, is an administration that will be different from Bush's, that will disengage us in Iraq, that will care about and restore our rights at home, that will focus on the concerns of working Americans and not just business and the wealthy. I know I'll get that from either Clinton or Obama. Who do I "like" better, though? I honestly don't like either of them. Clinton can seem imperious and cold, and Obama often seems like he's scolding anyone who doesn't share his enlightened ideas about "hope." The debate didn't make me like either of them any more than I did the day before. One of them will get my vote anyway.


Subversive Scum said...

I'm writting in a local blogger.

tunsie said...

In australa at the age of 18,it is mandatory 2 vote.I don't think i would watch a debate in a bar,u r likely 2 find felons or idiots that r not even registered,both of which i don't think have any ROOM 2 talk or attend any political own theory is the politicians flip flop and tell u anything u want 2 hear.I separated myself from this and from that.when they win their old friends show up.they don't change their colors,they camoflauge them very well.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

Beth said...

I don't "like" candidates who think I might find their race-bait tasty here in PA or any other state. That race-baiting applies to local and national identity politics, in both major parties, and I am fed up. Perhaps even bitter. One Democratic presidential candidate claims to listen to every constituency while the other candidate actually does listen. That's the person I'm working to elect.

Anonymous said...

hey, I go to bars and I am neither a felon or an idiot. I am also a white collar, registered to vote woman. I want somebody that will get us out of Iraq, think of education and health care and stop wasting my tax dollars on bailing out banks that should have known better then to get in the situation they got in!! Give me somebody that will think of the majority of Americans that are not millionaires or corporations. Most people just want to be able to afford gas for their cars and food on their tables, and be able to give their kids an education. What the hell has happened to this country. Oh yeah, Bush.