Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate

Okay, maybe THIS will be my last post before I go on my honeymoon. I watched the debate last night and felt discouraged by how well John McCain did characterizing Barack Obama as "not understanding" anything, how well he did diminishing Obama by not looking at him or once calling him by his first name (Obama said "John" many times) and just generally coming across as a better debater. McCain led the conversation, pushed his issues, made his points and came off as an experienced old guy who's humoring this young upstart who doesn't know what he's talking about.

Now I'm leaving the state for a week. I wish I'd at LEAST planned our honeymoon in a red state, but no - we'll be in Oregon, of all places. I blew it. When I get back, I'll hopelessly begin my political volunteering in earnest.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Real Honeymoon

This weekend, Bob and I celebrate our recent marriage with some friends downtown (dinner, toasting, CAKE, etc.) and then leave for a weeklong honeymoon. The real honeymoon. Finally. I doubt I'll blog again until, well, probably October.

But I feel very distracted by the election. I really wish I had planned this better. When I picked these dates and imagined the whole thing, I forgot it was an election year. I hate tying up TWO SATURDAYS when I could be down in Iowa canvassing for Obama. I'm toasting my new husband and running off for a vacation when I could be making phone calls and registering voters.

Obviously, I'm not canceling the party or the honeymoon so I can help Barack Obama get elected, especially since he doesn't seem to need that much help AT THE MOMENT. And chances are that by the time I get back, the campaign will have changed again so that Obama volunteers are more needed then than now. And although it's not strictly true that "you only get married once," I shouldn't shortchange the experience.

Still, I screwed up. I should have gotten this honeymoon thing over with before now or waited until November!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Volunteer for Obama

I did a lot of canvassing for John Kerry in 2004. I swore I'd go to Wisconsin and work my tail off to make that state go blue (vote Democratic). And we did it! Wisconsin went blue. But it wasn't enough.

My heart was broken and I still haven't recovered. I liked Obama as a candidate, but just haven't been able to bring myself to commit that kind of time and energy again. Why kill myself just to lose another one? In 2004 I donated to John Kerry's campaign, held fundraisers, made phone calls, canvassed on Saturdays and even lived in a hotel in Wasau, WI for the last five days of the 2004 election, knocking on doors, facing down angry Republicans and eating pizza and fried chicken for every meal. In 2004 took everything I had and I threw it into getting a Democrat in the White House. There was nothing I wouldn't do. And it wasn't enough. Do I want to do that again?

No, I don't. And at this point of the election, after what I've heard and what I've seen, I don't believe in Obama, the Democratic Party or the political process. It's all crap. It's just a big ugly game that allows people like me to drain and exhaust ourselves cycle after cycle.

But I'm discovering that I'm much more driven by guilt and fear than I realized. Here's my discovery about myself: what's worse than working SO HARD and having the GOP win? Sitting around doing nothing and having the GOP win.

I can't live with myself if I don't act. I just can't. I want to save my time and money and spend my weekends with my new husband and enjoy a cozy autumn with him, but it's a f#$%-ing election year and I just can't do nothing, even though I don't believe, even though I feel nothing for Barack Obama, even though I know the Democrats suck and all I can do is spin my wheels with them.

My husband thinks political action makes me happy. It doesn't. He thinks I believe political action makes a difference. It doesn't. He thinks I believe that tomorrow will better. It won't.

This is what I get out of volunteering: the temporary abatement of the guilt of just standing by while the Dem's lose another one. So here I go.

For those who live anywhere near me in Chicago: WE NEED TO SWING IOWA. The GOP barely won this state in 2004. They're ripe. Who's with me?

There are organizations all over the Chicagoland area organizing buses and carpools on weekends to go down to Iowa and knock on doors. It's a 3 1/2 hour drive each way and in exchange, they feed you tepid meal, but we have to do it. For those of us in the blue state of Illinois, going down to Iowa is the most important thing we can do for the Obama campaign.

And here's the BIG PUSH: Sat. Nov 1 - Tue. Nov 4 (Election Day). Can you go to Iowa then? Donating money is great, but Obama also critically needs people on the ground in Iowa during those final days. Please email me at reginamrm at yahoo dot com for help finding an organization near you that you can hook up with. I'm working with the Democratic Party of Evanston (www.dpoe.org). We also need volunteers to make phone calls on Monday and Thursday nights to recruit others.

I have little interest in trying to persuade anyone to vote for a candidate I'm lukewarm about, plus I have no hope and know we're doomed, but this is still my election year motto:

The worst possibility isn't the Republicans winning. The worst possibility is the Republicans winning after I didn't do everything I could to stop them.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Election

At least one person tells me she expected that I'd have a post about McCain and Palin. I hesitate to blog about John McCain choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate because I'm aware of how easy it is to -

1. Sink into anti-right wing vitriol.
2. Stumble into sexist expectations of what women can or should do.
3. Descend into sniping at her personal choices.

I don't have a strong opinion about Palin because I'm too consumed by my fear of the right wing winning this election. I'm unable to evaluate her as a vice president because I'm absolutely consumed by feverish desire for a Democratic president. I can't discuss her experience and qualifications because my powers of discernment are paralyzed by my terror that the Democrats might lose this one, too.

I believe most of the country is similarly blinded by the driving fear that "the other side" will win and that has tainted our election discussions, public and private. I believe many people are discovering for the first time new things about people they've known their whole lives. I'm discovering things I didn't know about my own family that never would have surfaced without this particular election between Barack Obama and John McCain. It's ugly. This whole election is very ugly.

People are saying Palin is the perfect maverick sidekick to support McCain's anti-establishment style. They're saying she's an irresponsible mother for putting her teenage daughter (and her incipient husband) in the national eye. Some say she has way more executive experience than Barack Obama. Some say there's no way they'd accept her as the person who's a heartbeat away from the presidency. Almost everyone who says good things about her is a McCain supporter. Almost everyone who says bad things about her is an Obama supporter.

This is not a real dialogue. It's just a hysterical exchange. I think this election has, in large part, been a hysterical exchange. Maybe they always have been.

But there's no way to break out of it. The only way we could have a real discussion of Sarah Palin's (or anyone else's) qualifications for office would require that we first get rid of our fear of each other and that's just not going to happen. We are all afraid of each other. It's just human nature. We're all afraid of people who look different or raise their children differently or take our parking space or ask us for money or want to open another Wal-Mart or think everyone has a right to carry a gun. We are all afraid of people who do not agree with us. We are afraid of people who are different from us, and especially afraid that those who don’t agree with us are going to take over and force us to live by their values and beliefs. This fear drives most of our interactions.

I really don’t see how we’ll change this state of our country. I’m right there in it, too. No matter your party affiliation (or lack thereof) if you are supporting John McCain, then I believe you're a destructive idiot. I really do. And that’s just wrong, but I don’t know how to stop believing it.

After decades of left-leaning people only living near other left-leaning people, right-leaning people only living near other right-leaning people, and everyone sorting themselves out by school district, precinct, suburban neighborhood and bohemian enclave, we can’t stand people who don’t think the same way we do. Our country is pretty evenly divided between right and left, but we are not all mixed in together. We carefully live far from those who don’t share our beliefs and political views. This leaves us entrenched against each other. Each side, right and left, loathes the other and that has led to an election devoid of real debate that is saturated with fear and hate.

So I have no opinion of Sarah Palin. I only know that I’m terrified of her.