I for one am glad the primaries are getting earlier and earlier. I'd much rather hear about the election than about shopping. The driver on the shuttle bus yesterday was playing bad Christmas music really loud. I had to sit there and pretend I was Jane Goodall to keep from strangling someone. (I'm trying to coin a word. I like "Chri$tmas," but you can't say it. "Shoppingmas" is clumsy. "Mallmas" sounds like a disease. Any ideas?)
For some reason I've followed an unstated rule to avoid electoral politics here. The reason, in general, is that -- though I love to talk about the candidates and the election with thoughtful, curious people, there are more than enough forums for uninformed people to blow hot air out of their asses at each other without opening up my blog for that. But this morning, I was leaving a comment on a blog I read regularly, and it got to be so long that I decided to move it here. Despite my frustration with the shallowness of media coverage, I do believe that our system depends on a big chaotic exchange of ideas, especially around election time. I think people should tell each other who they're voting for and why. In that spirit, here are a few thoughts on the Democratic primary. It starts with a rant about Nancy Pelosi, because the blog post I was responding to was about her and our ineffectual Democratic Congress:
I never liked Pelosi. The first time I was aware of her was when she became Minority Leader around the time we were going into Afganistan. I was in Indiana at my folks house for the holidays, and she was on the news constantly repeating, "I stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush, blah, blah..." She just kept saying that, "shoulder to shoulder." She's like a windup doll, with her little scripted phrases.
I used to like Edwards. I liked him last time. I like his focus on poverty. If it were between him and Clinton, I'd vote for him in a second. I just can't get past his Senate vote to invade Iraq. How do you explain that? It was cynical, and his justification for it is disingenuous. How can he say, "If I knew then what I know now..."? I knew then that Bush was lying. How could he not have known?
I'm voting for Obama. Nervously, I remember how good it felt to vote for Clinton in 92 after being so beat up in the 80s by Reagan and Bush the first, feeling so hopeful, and what a crushing disappointment he turned out to be in short order. But I'm better informed this time. In '92, I didn't pay much attention to globalization, big business, or how money worked in elections, so it was easy for me to miss everything that was wrong with Clinton. He was a friend of the gay people, so I voted for him. My support of Obama is more informed.
I don't care if he's got all his t's crossed and i's dotted with the gay people. I used to be a single-issue voter, thinking that homosexual rights could function as a litmus test for the bigger picture. But when the gay rights movement took such a hard turn right in the late 80s, 90s -- with marriage and the military becoming the agenda -- I woke up. At this point, habeas corpus, the balance of powers, the Constitution, are more important than whether or not gay people can get married or kill people in the Middle East or whatever it is they think they should be allowed to do just like straight people. If we can preserve our Constitution, we'll get to civil rights for sexual minorities eventually. I think this election has to be about civil liberties more than civil rights.