Tag Archives: Democrats

McCain’s cheap shot

My friend emailed me today saying she was scared about November. Scared that the American people were going to turn their backs on hope and change, and say goodbye to Obama for good. As the Obama and McCain popularity margin inches ever closer together, and as hard as it is to admit, I’m starting to wonder if my friend’s fears aren’t grounded in a little grain of truth.

The recent cheap shot by John McCain of putting a woman into the VP slot has turned into not only a media frenzy, but a reason for ignorant Americans (sadly, most of them women) to drop everything they stand for in order to represent their party and cling to an idealistic vision where quantity outsmarts quality. The result? A rise in McCain’s popularity so quick that the Obama camp is left reeling – and taking down their Greek columns in hurried shame.

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin is insulting, ludicrous and a slap in the face to every American. Not only did he choose his VP candidate based solely on gender, he chose a person he didn’t know existed until days before. The Republicans say the presidency is not for on-the-job training. Well, neither is the vice-presidency. And there’s something to be said for learning to work together, which isn’t something one can do by signing a piece of paper. The union of president and vice-president is like that of husband and wife. You need years of time together to know how the other person ticks, in order to make those life-important decisions. How are McCain and Palin going to work together to bring us out of this economic and international image slump when they don’t even know each other’s middle names (or that one of their children is an unmarried, pregnant teen?)

The problem now is that all the wrongs have ignored, and what is left of the very few rights have been highlighted and glamorized, swallowed up by the most vocal and ignorant citizens of this country. Months ago, republicans were teaching their children abstinence. Now, they’re teaching them, “it’s okay to make mistakes” and turning these irresponsible decisions into “challenges.” No one is talking about how the repubs plan to lower taxes for the wealthy, but they can’t keep their mouths shut about how the democrats will raise them for small business owners. Haven’t we learned by now that the trickle-down theory doesn’t work? Just another example of people in high places not paying attention in 8th grade economics class.

And putting a first-term governor into the second highest position in the country is just plain laughable. The political posturing is so obvious it hurts – but not as much as the fact that everyone’s buying it. First of all, what is the point of listening to, much less congratulating, Palin’s speech when it was clearly written by a talented group of writers who were off having cocktails and patting themselves on the back during her moment of glory? Calling her a “fighter” and ballsy is quite a stretch for a woman reading diligently off a teleprompter. I would have much rather had the writers themselves come out of the woodwork to read their trash than having to watch ten-thousand sets of pearls clapping excitedly to this newly fabricated hero.

Then, there’s the difference between the two conventions. Denver’s stadium packed in White, Black, Asian, Indian, Native American and Latin Americans – tall, short, fat, thin, well-dressed and sloppy. Everyone mingled and mixed like it was a day at the state fair. “We are family” blared through the crowd as those believers in hope danced and shook to the rhythm of change.

The republicans’ lack of color was obvious from the get-go. Nearly everyone was white, and there were enough tweed jackets and pearl necklaces to fill a football field. If we’re really all in this together, as the republicans claim, how come I didn’t see anyone representing MY demographic? How come I didn’t see MYSELF in any of their claims? If I’m not a gun-toting, anti-abortion tight-wad, how will I survive in McCain/Palin’s white, rich world? No amount of tight-lipped clapping will motivate me enough to get me to that scary place.

I will say, as a side note, that commenting on Palin’s duties as a mother should not even be discussed here. I don’t care what anyone says. The subject of parenting would NEVER come up in conversation about a male candidate. However, breast-feeding and caring for a normal, healthy baby is enough without the complications of Down’s Syndrome added to the mix. Try signing off that tax cut, Sarah, in between scurrying off to the bathroom to attach yourself to a breast pump. And I hope her husband is prepared to quit his job and accept the deluge of “Mr. Mom” jokes on the playground that he will be sure to receive. Gender equality is not laughing matter until it comes to role reversal, in which case no one knows what the hell to do.

The fact that McCain and Palin could practically be grandfather and granddaughter is enough to solidify my vote for the Democrats, not to mention the deafening sound of his ticking time clock. And the fact that Palin could be so openly comfortable with attacking Obama’s lack of experience when her range of power is limited to leading a state the size of Memphis, Tennessee for just one year, makes me wonder how anyone is believing any of this. But just look down the road at those clapping, pearl-encrusted hands and you’ll see that America still has its fair share of ignoramuses.

After all our years of struggle for equal, civil, abortion, gender and sexual rights, we seem to be right back to where we started: reading passages out of the bible while we sling a shotgun over our back, cast an evil eye at the gay man next to us and tuck a 100 dollar bill in our back pocket. Somehow, after all our hard work, the republicans seem to be moving closer to the nomination, stealing it away from the democrats’ deaf-turned ear and leading us along a road we’ve already been down.

And where’s the hope in that? Yes, we can’t.

A tearful start in the race to the White House

I’ve got to give big ups to Hillary last night for that move towards Obama’s nomination by acclamation. Her strained smile and flat gaze reflected just how hard that proclamation was for her. Even Chelsea looked pained. Am I really surprised? No, of course not. Can you imagine standing amongst a crowd of 75,000 people cheering to nominate your rival – but gosh darnit, they have a whole lot of respect for you!

And poor Bill. Forced into professing his confidence in a man he once attacked. Forced to ignite the American public to vote against his own wife. I can’t remember any other campaign that has become this incestuous in years. Oh wait, wasn’t there something of a dynasty known as the Bush family?

I have always been a fan of Bill, and as a woman (because as much as you want to separate the two, you have to recognize the power of seeing yourself and your own struggle in a candidate) I have overwhelming respect for Hillary, but it’s time for their family to step out of the spotlight and go do something else for awhile. Give everyone a break. We can be sure that Chelsea will be inching back into the political foreground in just a matter of years anyway.

Whether it was going to be Hillary or Obama, one thing remains clear about this election year. History has been made and I have officially cried during a democratic convention. It was Michelle’s speech that did it – which I finally caught online – when she spoke about the American dream. Even though I am a white, middle-class female who has never had to truly battle poverty, it was mind-boggling to imagine a little bi-racial boy growing up in a single-parent family, just going to public school like me and my friends, becoming a presidential candidate. And so I cried.

Yet after my emotions subsided, I realized that Obama has not been the only one. Looking back over the years of presidential candidates, how many of them have actually grown up with a silver spoon in their mouths? I am no politico so I couldn’t give you the facts, but it seems to me that many candidates grew up just like Barack, in working-class families who complained about tax hikes and gas prices. Except that they were white, so perhaps the spoon was bronze and not silver, but it was still in the running for the gold.

What I keep asking myself is what we should be more proud of: a black candidate or a female candidate. Okay, so maybe I’m asking this question a little too late – we’ve been through this before – but it’s relevant if we’re going to spend the next two months celebrating Obama’s nomination because of his race. I suppose in the end, we’d do the same amount of partying for Hillary for reasons that are, as they say in Asia, “same same but different.” But I often wonder, who had it worse? Who struggled the most to succeed in the exclusive political world of the upper-class white man? And why this compelling need to elect the martyr?

It’s all relative, you see. Here in France, no one’s buying the whole “Barack had it bad” excuse. I’ve never had one French person exclaim that the Americans have really done it this time, electing a poor black man into office. Maybe, culturally, they just don’t understand. But the truth is, Barack did not grow up as the poor, oppressed black man. He grew up as a bi-racial, light-skinned black male in sunny Hawaii in a relatively stable environment. I’m not doubting that he has faced racism in his lifetime. Far from it. Just the other day, two men were arrested for plotting to assassinate him – bringing to light a great fear of mine and many people I know. The depth of this country’s racism is frankly shocking.

But to dwell on the fact that he has moved up in the world socially or racially in a truly astounding way is going a bit over the top. Maybe it’s my generation and the fact that race has not really played a part in my personal or professional relationships. Maybe this whole race question is more for the generation of my parents – who seem to be leading the discussion on the magnitude of Obama’s achievements. To me and my friends, he’s just another man (and an attractive one, at that) who has sparked our interest.

Still, his election takes nothing away from the plight of African-Americans and what has just been accomplished. Obama has opened the way for amazing things to happen in America’s future and given hope to everyone – black, white or otherwise, rich or poor. I still haven’t decided if we should be patting ourselves on the back for “coming so far” by electing a black man over a half century after MLK’s speech – is that a long or short amount of time? I can’t answer that. But it’s a hell of a start.

Perhaps the bigger accomplishment is that such a junior senator can rise to the heights of presidential candidacy based almost solely on charisma and hard work. Looking at how far he, not American race relations, has come professionally in such a short amount of time is what’s worth recognizing. That, I think, gives everyone hope, regardless of race or gender. Even if you can’t relate to Obama’s racial history or family upbringing, you can surely relate to his will to achieve great things in his life.

His story reminds me of a Fortis commercial I saw recently. It goes something like this: “One day, you were born into this world (insert woman pushing a baby carriage). And one day, you’ll leave this world (old lady hobbling down the street with a cane). But what you do in between is up to you.”

I’m not sure why, but every time I see it, I get goose bumps. What Obama has done is exactly the point this commercial, however simplistic, is trying to make. Everyone has a choice in how they direct their lives. They can choose to sit in the corner and feel sorry for themselves and their lot in life, or they can stand up and make a change. The decision is their’s.

So, what will you do today?