Friday, October 24, 2008

The Political Post

Those of you who know me personally and through some of your own blogs know that I am passionate about politics. I’ve kept a close eye on this election from the very first candidate to throw her hat in the ring down to the final two in the dwindling days of the campaign. I’ve been a complete political junkie, constantly reading the newspapers, blogs, and polling sites, checking fivethirtyeight.com sometimes several times a day. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to spend my downtime (or my stolen minutes at work here and there) once this election is over.

But I have largely refrained from blogging about politics this campaign season. The biggest reason is probably because the most exciting parts of this election have coincided with some very big events in our lives (me traveling overseas, us picking up and moving, starting new jobs, etc) but almost as much, I didn’t want to be just another liberal blogger talking about how much I love Barack Obama and how distressed I am at the prospect of another 4 years of Republican policies. Really, there are plenty of them out there, and most of them do a much better job than I could do. I didn’t want to feel like I was shouting into the abyss.

But this post is a little different. You see, four years ago I voted for John Kerry. I quietly did my civic duty, went in the booth and chose who I thought was the right man for the job. And he lost. And I was really really upset for awhile that we had to live through four more years of having a stubborn, ignorant, close-minded, inept man making every wrong decision he possibly could for this country. And I was more than ready to blame everyone who pulled the lever in his favor. What I didn’t realize was I had a teeny tiny part in Bush getting a second term as well. Because there was plenty I could have done, but didn’t do. I didn’t tell Dean why he should go out and vote for John Kerry. Dean’s former political philosophy boiled down to the cynical opinion that voters do absolutely nothing and lobbyists and the very wealthy are the ones truly running this country. Of course, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy and one I found unacceptable this election cycle.

Chaos theory seeks to describe dynamical systems whose behavior depends sensitively on initial conditions. The old cliché that the flap of a butterfly’s wings can affect a global event. This butterfly should have flapped her wings four years ago. But instead, she is doing it now. I believe taking care of our country means making sure we ALL do what is best. Whether we like it or not, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, Christians, Muslims, Agnostics, Jews, we all have to live here and we are all in this thing together.

If you are not planning to vote this year, please reconsider. If you have not tuned in to the debates, picked up a newspaper, or are counting on 30 second attack ads to get you informed on the most important election of our lives, please take some time and read where the candidates really stand. It is my strong opinion, based on spending countless hours since February 2007 watching speeches on youtube (and in person!), reading proposed policies, keeping track of facts and yes, a little bit of listening to my heart, that Barack Obama is absolutely the right person to lead this country in these tough times.

At first, I felt like I was taking a bit of a gamble on him. I had read The Audacity of Hope and knew him to be fresh, intelligent, communicative, reasonable and willing to work with even with those with which he doesn’t agree. But I was a little worried he wasn’t quite ready. After watching his campaign pull together and inspire so many people, watching him win against the most established Democrat our party could have put forward (still feeling love for Hillary, don’t get me wrong), seeing him choose Joe Biden, another man of profound character and intelligence to help him on this journey, and seeing him put forth a proposal for us as a nation to put this country back together, I am confident he is what we need right now.

People have questioned his patriotism because he dares to point out what is wrong with America right now. If you love someone, you tell them when they are on the wrong path and headed for a train wreck. People have called him elite because he holds degrees from Columbia and Harvard. I want to know when having an education is a bad qualification for presiding over a nation. And people have called him “exotic”. He is half Black and has lived overseas. And to be honest, I love that about him. I love the idea of showing the World, the majority of which is some shade of brown, that we can trust this man with our fragile country less than 50 years after segregation and less than 150 after slavery. People have said that he is naïve because he believes in communication and diplomacy over the pre-emptive war and “if I don’t listen you must not exist” foreign policy of this administration. Lastly, people have called him a socialist because he wants to restore the middle class, the workhorse of this nation and the embodiment of the American dream for millions of immigrants. The middle class is where I live, and where most of you live, and the past eight years have been an uphill climb for us.

Please, if you don’t know him yet, do yourself a favor by just seeing what he stands for. If you are for Obama but think this race is tied up and that you can afford to stay home on election day, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR. There is only way we can really screw this up and that is with complacency. If you are allowed to vote early DO SO. You never know what can happen, and this weekend is a perfect time to get it done. It could be snowing November 4th, you could have car trouble, there could be trouble with the machines (I’m looking at YOU Floridians!!!), vote early and as soon as you can. Dean and I decided that Florida needs our vote so we didn’t register in RI and requested absentee ballots from Hillsborough County. We have marked our ballots, photocopied them and sent them registered mail. I can feel good about my vote, and now I can feel good flapping my wings, because you never know who will feel it.

22 comments:

spants said...

I'm worried about complacency, too. I've been harassing the undecideds that I know. I even, per Josh's request, broke my long-running "no bumper stickers" rule and put an Obama-Biden sticker on my car.

And, I'm sure to the annoyance of my friends, I've been bombarding my Facebook account with links to all sorts of relevant articles.

I talk politics whenever and wherever I can, even with people who I disagree with. I can be respectful and debate the merits of an opinion. Few people do this anymore, which is sad. I'd rather break a taboo than not do enough to get Obama elected.

Keep fighting the good fight, and nice strategy with the Florida vote!

fermicat said...

This election will be the first one in a very long time that I will be voting FOR someone, not against someone. I truly believe that Obama would make a kick-ass president and am hopeful that it will happen. Heck, we might even turn Georgia blue! How cool would that be?

The stream of unusual endorsements he is getting is a testament to the qualifications that he has, including his temperament and intelligence. He is not going to surround himself with a cocoon of yes men and drink cool aid for the next four years. I can't wait to see what he can do!

Dianne said...

I love when you flap your wings :)

I am so cautiously hopeful in this last week to election.

I can barely wait to pull that lever.

Jeni said...

Excellent Post! You said it so well and your words matched up completely with my feelings for the change that is so desperately needed for our country to keep going in a forward manner!
It took me a while to decide who I would support in the Primary as I liked both Obama and Hilary but ultimately I decided my vote would go in the primary and also in the general election to Obama. And if being well-educated and intelligent plus ambitious and empathetic point to being "elite" then that sounds pretty doggone good to me!

Jackie said...

I wish I was American for one day only, cause I would LOVE to vote in this election!!

magnetbabe said...

spants,
You know undecideds? What the hell are they waiting for? I'm still not ready to commit to a bumper sticker. I have a bumper magnet that can be easily peeled off in the event of a massive upset.

The chasm that has emerged between the parties I think is a result of lack of communication. The two sides have completely different conversations and seem to shout the same talking points over and over whether they actually apply to the given topic or not. I applaud you trying to raise the level of discourse whenever you can, I'm still not sure I do it very effectively.

fermi,
I think McCain showed that he would surround himself with yes men when he made his choice for VP. Obama WILL be a kickass president. And I predict the polls are being too conservative and are underestimating the power of the first time and swing voters. I wouldn't be surprised if Georgia went blue along with one or two other unexpected red states.

dianne,
I surpassed cautious optimism this week and am on to downright giddiness. If he loses it will be the biggest buzzkill ever for me I think.

jeni,
Thank you! This "elitist" label is killing me and its the lack of curiosity and condescension towards the educated that angers me most about the republican ticket this year. I never had a hard time choosing between Barack and Hillary, though I would still have been deeply honored to vote for her this election had it turned out differently.

jackie,
You mean you guys don't wish you were American everyday? That's we we think down here at least! (Just kidding, of course.) I do like that the world seems so focused on this election. When I was in France and Obama was either tied or slightly behind McCain, people were totally shocked. Hopefully we won't disppoint!

gabrielle said...

While I too am cautiously optimistic, Obama has been counselling against complacency in the last lap. And with good reason. We know that the last two elections were stolen.

The schemes being used to disenfranchise voters in the past month have ranged from purging voters facing foreclosure to insisting on photo ids at the polls to misinforming students about where they can and cannot vote. These tactics deliberately target poor people, people of color and young people who are more likely to vote for the Democratic Party.

In Mississippi, a local election worker mistakenly purged 10,000 voters from her home computer just a week before the presidential primary, according to the center’s study released by the Brennnan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
In an Orwellian twist, voters are not notified that they have been purged from the roster. When they show up at the polls expecting to vote, they will be advised that they can exercise their right by using a provisional ballot. However, these ballots will not be counted if the names are not on the list of registered voters. Which they are not.

Here is a guide on twelve ways to safeguard your vote:
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2008/10/23-14
In addition to these practical suggestions consider the following:
Take some time to become familiar with ballot, including local and state candidates and propositions.
Request a paper ballot if they are available at your polling place.
Volunteer as a monitor if you have the desire and inclination to do so.

This is the most critical election in the nearly 4 decades I have been voting.
We have to be able to vote and made sure that our votes count.

You know that I share your passion for politics. I wouldn't worry about staying engaged in the process after November 4th. This country is in such a shambles, winning the election is just the beginning .

Minnesotablue said...

I still feel a lot of anxiety because of past stolen elections. I also find myself checking polls constantly, several times a day, my computer is never turned off nor is the TV.
For several months there were no campaign signs up but when I put my Obama sign up, the flood gates opened! I have Obama all around me.
Gabriella is absolutely right though, getting him elected is only the beginning of this fight to TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!

Anonymous said...

"Purged 10,000 voters from her home computer..." From her HOME computer?? Well, that news should make alot of reluctant voters willing to register for the first time.
Catsforsure

dr sardonicus said...

Wow.

More and more I find the most interesting political posts are from people who don't normally blog politics. On the political blogs I read, I generally know what everybody's going to say before they say it. You've made the case for Obama as well as any of the pros I read have. Great job, magnetbabe.

Hot4Teacha said...

Eloquent as always, 'Babe! You know I would have like 10,000 of Barack's babies if I could - I love him. But more importantly, Itrust him to do what we need done.

Beth said...

Well, my husband and I make two more votes for Obama and I'm a registered Republican. My mother has NEVER voted and this year, I registered her and am taking her ... AND she's excited as hell to be voting for Obama. She said if we get four more years of d*ckheads, she don't know what we'll do.

I'm so sick of people saying, "Well, yeah, I can't vote for McCain, but Obama's not great either." Are you kidding me??? I want to smack those people.

HUGE differences between the two men and if you want this nation to succeed, it's not hard to see which one to choose!

labwench said...

nicely said.

magnetbabe said...

gabrielle, minnesotablue, and anon,

Rolling Stone this month had an excellent article about stolen elections by Robert Kennedy, Jr. It was truly terrifying and makes me think that even with the lead he has now, Obama will not be safe until November 5th.

dr. s,

Thanks so much for the compliment! I know my readers are very well read and up on the politics which is also intimidating. But I knew I would regret not doing my best to contribute.

hot4teacha,
Don't give the other side any ideas for a scandal. You know they are already looking for illegitimate kids on top of Barack's "terrorist pals".

beth,

I agree - I don't understand the "lesser of two evils" argument. Either they haven't been paying attention these past 8 years or they're still upset Ron Paul isn't in it. But yay for you I know a lot of registered republicans voting their conscience and I have the utmost respect for them and am grateful they put country before party. And yay for your mom! Woo hoo!

labwench,
Thanks! Miss you.
{hugs}

Scott said...

Nice post, Natalie. I won't try to rain on this parade. Just know that I am very fond of you.

gabrielle said...

I hope that everything goes as smoothly as it can on Nov 4 with our balkanized and archaic voting sytem.

My sense is that the Presidential contest is high profile enough domestically and globally that anyone would be crazy to mess with it. (Which by the way doesn’t mean that it won’t happen).

What is crucial is that the senate, congressional and local elections are not tampered with. Please keep your eyes and your camera’s eyes out for any irregularities.

Happy Halloween!!!!

fermicat said...

Almost time........

Nervous energy building. Hoping for a good outcome.

Beth said...

Natalie, I might be changing my party. Although I have conservative ideals when it comes to abortion and welfare reform, I just can't stand where the Republican party has ended up and it's plain to see (at least to me) what they're all about now.

You have done such a tremendous job at Scott's blog. I wrote to you there, I believe, but just wanted to let you know -- I really love your giant brain! =) Tomorrow's the day and I'm so nervous.

magnetbabe said...

scott,

This isn't a parade, it's a blog. Speak up if you wish, but know you are in the minority. ;) Sometimes that's the best time to test the fortitude of your own ideals. If disagreeing at a blog is raining on parade, Lord knows I've been pouring buckets at your place.

gabrielle,

It looks like people are really taking advantage of early voting, which is fantastic. A lot of the get out the vote suppression on the republican side won't work on November 4th if a good chunk of people have already voted. And I predict people will make a stink if they feel their rights have been infringed upon. There is much more awareness of the attempts to turn away voters for arcane reasons.

fermi,

Ditto. Latest polls show Georgia officially a toss up!

beth,

Thank you so much. I did see your compliment and it means so much to me. No matter what happens, I want to feel like I did everything I could to get Obama elected. I knew Scott wouldn't come around to my side, but I also know he has a lot of readers, and if I read something that doesn't pass my own sniff test, I gotta call it like I see it. I felt like I got a little aggressive but what you wrote made it worth it.

As far as changing your party goes, we take all kinds. ;) There are very few democrats who buy into the entire platform. A lot of people who vote democrat are uncomfortable about supporting abortion rights. But my opinion is that being "pro-life" should mean much more than what to do about unwanted pregnancies, it should mean reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies through proper education and contraceptive availability. It should mean caring for children who are born to women who choose to carry on pregnancies in desperate times by making sure they have proper health insurance, good nutrition and early education easily available. These are not priorities for the Republican party right now and that is a message the Democratic party has been pushing hard this election. I think if they continue pushing this ideology they will get a lot more of the social conservatives.

fermicat said...

My election post is up. Know hope.

Beth said...

Natalie, we did it! I'm glad what I wrote on Scott's blog made you see that you in fact were doing a terrific job on Barack Obama's behalf. I put a recap post up on my blog and boy, my eyes are puffy puffy puffy.

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