21 October 2008

Sea change

sea change –noun
  1. a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better.
  2. any major transformation or alteration.
  3. a transformation brought about by the sea.
I like that last definition. I think we can change it to read "a transformation brought about by the sea of people".....

I wish I could vote today. This Presidential election has gone on entirely too long, and caused me entirely too much anxiety. Especially when I'm in the middle of trying to complete a Master's thesis. For someone as interested in politics as I am, the excitement of this campaign has been a heady distraction from my thesis work.

But it has also awakened the country from its complacency and exhaustion after 8 years of enduring an incompetent Commander in Chief. And it's caused me to put some things in perspective:
  1. For a long time, I've been having a lot of angst about the generational gap in the U.S. I look at Bush, Cheney, and that whole band of loonies and think, "my goodness, their generation ruined everything...and what it didn't ruin the first time, it's trying to ruin now." And I've been thinking that my generation has been trying to make things right again all by ourselves. But that discounts my own parents, who are good, hardworking, sensible people; and, although they have never aspired to the presidency, I think that they could have run this country a hell of a lot better than the current administration. They, like many other sensible parents, are looking forward to sea change in this country.
  2. This campaign has also caused several of my friends who previously had no interest in voting or even talking about politics to both register to vote and to talk about politics. Imagine my surprise when I'm having political conversations with those close friends who have never breached the subject with me before! They, too, are looking forward to sea change in this country.
  3. What disturbs me most about these final weeks of the campaign is the ugliness and latent hatred that is starting to come out on the other side. It's also made me realize how glad I am that I know so many good people who reject this type of hatred. The "win at any cost" approach is pretty much the opposite of what this country needs right now as it faces down economic turmoil like we have never seen in my lifetime. And because of this economic challenge, the country desperately needs a sea change.
All of this leads me to reiterate that which Jon Stewart mocked so freely in last night's Daily Show: the idea that somehow, some parts of this country are "anti-America" because they do not support the McCain-Palin ticket. Governor Palin's comments last week, coupled with the lunacy of Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann declaring that members of Congress should be investigated as to whether they are pro- or anti-American, and McCain's top advisor Nancy Pft-whatever-her-name-is saying that southern parts of Virginia are "real Virginia," are completely and utterly disturbing. Not only are they divisive, the last flailing desperate remarks of a campaign that has watched all of its other cynical campaign tactics fail, they are dangerous. They suggest an America divided and hearken back to the passion that I imagine was felt on both sides of the country during the Civil War. Those of us who support Barack Obama and Joe Biden do so out of a hope that this country can be repaired, re-energized, and rebuilt, and comments like this threaten not only our hope, but they threaten us personally. If I'm anti-American because I've sacrificed a few dinners out so that I could give some of my meager graduate student's budget to support the best hope of my generation to make this country better a better place, then so be it. But the truth is, I'm not anti-American. My thesis, my life's work for the next year is dedicated to teaching people - in America - about how to save energy in their homes. And no, I'm not dividing the information between people in some parts of the country and people in other, "more real" parts of the country.

The truth is that the McCain-Palin campaign is spiraling into a pattern of fear-mongering, latent racism, and divisiveness that we, as a country, need to put behind us, once and for all. The U.S. is not only ready for a sea change, it is hungry for it. One needs only to see the staggering $150 million that was donated to the Obama campaign - during the month of September alone - to understand that.

So these are just things that I've been thinking lately and I needed to get them off my chest. I will leave you with a video of General Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama which I found to be eloquent and inspiring. That is not stopping the lunatics on the other side from using racist remarks to smear the General (a 4-star general, for god's sakes), but it's worth watching, nonetheless.

If even a decorated war hero, formerly of two conservative administrations, is ready for a sea change, I think it's time.

Update, 3 November 2008: Even MSNBC agrees with me ... sort of.


mike said...

Great post, and not only because I couldn't agree more with your points. This election is about a choice as generational as it is political, and to see young people as engaged and vocal as they are in the process, (after being discounted as unlikely to vote for so long,) really means something this time. Similar to your example, my best friend, with whom I have oddly NEVER discussed politics, has finally opened up (albeit after many pints) about the election this year. I think it's a meaningful sign of these transitional times.

I also agree that McCain's generation and its collective experience have lead him to champion Reaganomics, bring up the spectre of cold war, and most recently, to trot out NeoMcCarthyism and fear of The Other.

There is much solace to be taken in the fact that the Republicans have become so desperate and so negative -- I can't remember the last substantive argument made for McCain against Obama! Was there ever one?

Again, great post, and I'll see you on the victorious side of November 4.


Greyolddave said...

t-t-talkin about MY generation.
Greyolddave (63)

Anonymous said...

A thoughtful commentary, but I'm voting for McCain. Let me explain why.

We have not even begun to feel the effects of the current financial meltdown. If Obama is elected, his first and only term in office will be trying desperately tread water while we slide into a depression. And who will get the blame for this? The democrats.

The republicans will be rallying their power as saviors and will easily defeat Obama in 2012.

The only shot the democrats have is if we slide into a full-blown depression while under republican rule. Then, the democrats can take power under a fierce mandate of change and usher in the kind of sweeping policy changes needed to begin to repair all the damage done.

Neither people nor countries change until rock-bottom is hit. We still have a ways to go. I'd rather hit bottom in the next four years and have a change at a better future for my children.

emKem said...

I violated my own rule about not allowing Anonymous posters to leave comments on the blog in order to allow that last one. In all honesty, I'm not offended by it so much as I am saddened by it...we need to "hit rock bottom" before trying to turn the ship around? That's terribly cynical. One of the reasons I'm supporting Obama is because of my belief that he IS the change candidate of a generation.

I think this is telling also: http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/567867.html

Greyolddave said...

I was sent to this post by a mutual friend and must jump in again. The McCain vs. Obama situation is quite sad. I once thought I could vote for McCain. He lost his message along the way. The ads and attacks are hateful. How could he have sunk so low? I recognize the need to defend oneself, but this?