Wednesday, September 03, 2008

a little vomit in my mouth

Let me say first and foremost that I am not a Republican nor a Democrat. I have voted for both parties in different elections, except for president, which unfortunately I can say I voted for Bush W. both times that I have been old enough to vote. To all who thought they knew me, I'm sorry. Feel free to stone me, or laugh, or pat me on the back if need be. I've begun over the last 5 years listening to my little conscience (or Spirit?) that has helped me to see the world in some very different ways...theologically, philosophically, politically, etc. i did struggle with whether or not to vote for bush w. on round two, but ultimately voted for who i thought at the time was the lesser of two evils. This is an interesting election on many levels, but mostly I've grimaced and become disheartened over the political process in general, and wanted to join my Anabaptist brothers and sisters on most days while watching the conventions.

That being said, I don't think either of the presidential candidates and their running mates are spawns of satan. but honestly, i don't think that i have seen as many disgruntled, angry white people in one room together as i have tonight watching the former mayor of NYC Rudy Guliani's speech tonight at the republican national convention. i mean seriously. they made fun of obama being a community organizer...they literally stopped and laughed at him. it sure is something to laugh at, you know, a young black guy trying to make a difference in his neighborhood and city. they showed the faces of young white men my age who scowled with what seemed like hatred in response to Guliani's cadences. where does the anger come from? honestly, i felt like i had a little vomit in my mouth each time Guliani smiled and used terms like "energy exploration" to describe the continued vain dependence on oil through drilling in alaska and wildlife areas rather than "exploring" renewable energy. or take when Guliani emphasized McCain's willingness to go to the ends of the earth to eradicate any enemy of the US with military power, and then pointing to Palin's religion as a sign of God's affiliation with the republican party.

now i will be honest, i didn't watch all of the DNC and i haven't watched all of the RNC. i saw plenty of crap come through the DNC (which up to this point i have watched more of the DNC than the RNC), and i have been watching the RNC mostly b/c i want to try my best to hear from both sides. so, i'm not going to act like this is a balanced perspective...this is simply my reaction as i watched the RNC tonight, and i will finish watching palin's speech tomorrow (shey wanted to go to sleep so i will finish watching it tomorrow), and so far I didn't hate what she had to say for the first like 2 minutes (after the long applause introduction).

but the RNC seemed venemous. i felt dirty watching it, and while i didn't feel good watching the DNC, i didn't feel like i need to take a shower, or feel my chest tighten and cheeks become red as i did tonight watching the political drama of the RNC. there are a couple political posts brewing in my mind and have been for some time now that i'd like to work on in the coming days. i think i might tackle my views on a couple of issues and then maybe point to some others who i think are offering some interesting perspectives currently.

anybody else have some thoughts on the conventions thus far? who are you thinking about voting for...why? and please, let's be civil if any comments do come up....much love.


Robyn said...

I can't say that I have watched any of the conventions. I have no TV, and even if I did, I doubt the coverage of the US political conventions would be overwhelming. I can, however, fully identify with the frustration and disillusionment.
It was a bit of a shock to me when I realized that one of the things I like about living in Wales is that I am so far removed from the US political process. From my point of view, growing up in NOVA, elections, especially presidential elections, are poisonous. I am seriously grateful to be missing most of it, although I try to keep up with the details and often find myself fielding questions from interested Brits about the candidates or the process.
I am very much struggling at the moment with the voice in me that says it is my "responsiblity" to vote. I hesitate to vote Republican, because I would only do so out of habit and because I was raised to, but, although I cannot help but respect Obama, I am very uncomfortable casting a Democratic vote as well.
In the end, I suspect I will wimp out of the process this time around.
The whole thing is symptomatic of how deeply divided the US is as a country. I fear for the integrity of a country so full of venom and self-righteousness.
Especially because I do love it.

Brendan O'Connor said...

Hayden, so well said. I'm afraid if you do watch Palin's full speech though you'll realize the first 2 min.--which i also thought were nice--aren't fully representative. I was so discontented after watching Giuliani and Palin both. though. .

I wrote a piece on each of the speeches at my blog as i listened to them ( and was really bowled over by how base they both were; i just hadn't paid attention to conventions (or politics unfortunately) in the past, and didn't think they could literally give full speeches that weren't mostly about issues at hand. Here's a sentence from the piece at the point when i thought she went downhill: "There it was, she just lost much of my respect--thought from the way she was talking she might not. She said a mayor (i.e., her) is like a community organizer (i.e., Obama), except that "a mayor has actual responsibilities"--what a low blow right? Geez, have some basic respect lady...They said Bush's past speech writer wrote her speech, I can tell. It's good she has "hometown values" as some in her party have been saying, too bad mutual respect doesn't make the cut of those "values" of hers."

I'd encourage your friend Robyn to really research whether the weight of issues at hand doesn't leave her with an ethical pull to take a stand on one side or the other, issues like whether we should have gone into another country and by doing so left 100s of 1000s dead, the question of whether health care should be affordable to all people or not, of whether children should have affordable access to the hugely determining period of early education, etc., etc. Only by my lack of involvement over the years can i fully appreciate the idea that inaction leaves one culpable for whatever comes about too.

And lastly i'd just say that i think one has to ask the question of whether people (ie, politicians) have to be venomous and self-righteous; i'd argue that Obama has had much time to be before the spotlight of the public and has shown that they do not have to operate on that level (as far as my own writing i'd point to a couple posts on his character--; that post is part of a little series i did on Obama's values for any who are interested:

Again, appreciate the post Josh, as it was comforting to feel like i wasn't overreacting or just catching the negative pieces of the speeches (think i'll quote your piece in a little update to one of mine as i think you were quite right on).

Josh said...

Robyn...i can totally understand where you are coming from. it must be overwhelming to be in a place where you find yourself trying to explain the current state of american politics to people who have some serious questions about the nature and aims of our government. it is a real struggle to want to vote at all. i'm with you there friend!

B. yeah, i'm with you on a lot of that stuff man. i don't sense a lot of the same venom in some of the speeches or tones from the crowd that i saw last night at the DNC last week. that being said, there was still a lot of rhetoric being pushed by a lot of different speakers, and while i think obama rose above the fray most times, i'm still disillusioned with much of the process.

that being said, i will be voting (unless i have a serious change of heart) in the election. i hope to be a little more diligent about my thoughts in the coming weeks. i've found that i have stronger opinions on this stuff than i had previously been willing to let myself think about, possibly because life was so crazy this summer. also B, its been good reading your thoughts on your blog man.

i have had some interesting conversations of late with people like my grandmother and Shey that have stoked the coals a bit for me.

glad to hear from ya'll!

Leah said...

Seth and I were watching last night for a bit too and the thing that made us feel much of what you felt was that the room was all white, all middle aged, and many wearing cowboy hats. And the part when the room started chanting "USA" (like we are better than you) at Guilliani's speech didn't help me feel good about the scene. I had wanted to watch more of the RNC but the more the scene shots frustrated me I just switched to something else. So I have to say on those lines I much much preferred the DNC...mixed ages, mixed races, and excited. I just find it really hard to vote Republican right now when I look and see the people at the convention and think really no matter what your "Reform" could be I'm afraid of a party where America would be represented like that. Does this make sense?

Josh said...


yeah, it was quite disconcerting for me as well. i kept watching even though it hurt me to watch, and made me feel like the room was closing in on me. i don't know why i was taking it so personally, but it is hard to be a white person and feel like you are watching a group of whities be so disrespectful and angry, and not feel like you are somehow responsible for them and the brewing racism.

shey made a fantastic comment that will be a later blogpost for me, she said that McCain chose Palin because "he was banking on people being more racist than sexist in the coming election." after last night, at least in the RNC, that may be eerily true.

april said...

omg josh, i totally fault you, and you alone, for the last 8 years of this country :)

you voted for bush. ok. getting over my shock now. you seemed so... normal.

anyway, sans tv, i've been getting all of my DNC/RNC stuff from blogs. mainly left-leaning blogs, but i have traversed the territory of the right-leaning as well, just for perspective. (ie to hear how the left vs right explains the presence of joe lieberman at the RNC :) )more out of intellectual curiosity.

people are mean, yeah? i think the main things that bother me about the whole campaigning thing are 1)how people willingly and knowingly twist info to make the other look bad and 2)people refuse to answer difficult questions directly (this goes across party lines!) and 3)how rare it is for people to just admit mistakes and take responsibility for actions. it seems like such a given, that adults would take responsibility for mistakes. but in politics, it's like admitting you were wrong about something, or (gasp!) changed your mind, is instant death. i cant figure out if it really is political death to do so, or if politicians just think it is. know what I'm saying? like, it is the electorates fault, or the politicians? do we expect too much of them, or are they all just sociopaths?

on that optimistic note, i close.

Brendan O'Connor said...

Ahoy Josh,

I agree, def. plenty of posturing on both sides, i just think that Obama has elevated the discussion in a way that calls many to something a bit more humane.

I would have to say that i think so many would realize that they care about the issues so much more than they think if our system encouraged engagement more w/the issues.

A civic group i'm a part of in Arlington asked Arlington Young Dems and Arlington Young Republicans to come and talk to our group recently, and i'm excited to say that we were able to discuss the idea of having a sort of "community debate" where we would have say three people from the two sides go back and forth with an audience; the intent would be to engage in that way that allows people to realize how much they DO care about these issues when pressed. Am hoping it comes through, but we've just been on the receiving end too damn long with the primary season's last 18 months or so, and need to be forced to engage w/the issues in ways like this i believe.

Good reading your thoughts though, thanks for them!