Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hello, Super Tuesday! (or, The Naked Truth)

*Blogger's Note: Today's blog strays widely from my usual non-political, artiste-in-Paree ramble. But - and this is the honest-to-god truth - I had a dream last night in which a Dutch blogger who I met back at France 24 last spring told me I had to blog about the election. I know it's weird, but here I am.

Part of the silver lining of being raised by narcissistic parents (besides the fact that it makes you prone to always look for the silver lining!) is that it gives you a really good bullshit detector for the rest of your life. The constant task of monitoring other people's moods for your own survival makes you hyper-aware, hyper-alert to every nuance in human behavior, like some sort of 24-hour emotional sentry (unless of course it makes you crazy, which is also a possibility). Since you spend your earliest days sifting through lies and distortions, you are - in my humble unlicensed opinion - pretty darn qualified to tell when someone is being real.

Which brings me to today's primary.

Much has been written, said, debated, blah blah blah, about the candidates, who, in the case of the Democrats, have now been whittled down to two. Much of the recent "news" about them has in fact been commentary on the news about them (as friend V said, "The media love commenting on the media"). So how do we sift through all of this and vote for the person we think will do the better job?

For the last eight years, Americans have been deceived and lied to in ways I never thought possible in the richest nation on earth. Talk about narcissistic parents! These people make Joan Crawford look like a walk in the park. Do you remember the window of time that was post-9/11, pre-Iraq? It's hard to believe that there was ever a time when Americans could still make a choice about being in Iraq. But there was. And our leaders, our Democratic leaders, were in positions of power to make that choice. And Hillary Clinton was one of them. And she voted to give the president power to make war.

This was not "a" mistake on her part, it was "the" mistake of our era. Americans have lost so much since then, as a result of hers and other Democrats' cowardice: human lives, billions of dollars, international goodwill, not to mention a whole generation of seriously damaged men and women coming back from Iraq. (Can you say Vietnam II?)

Why didn't she read the documents which only she, as a Senator, had access to? Why didn't she do her job and protect us from the insanity of the Bush administration? How on earth can I vote for someone who, when in a position of power, went against every single core value and belief in my being?

Moreover, why didn't Clinton speak out against the war at the beginning? Didn't she feel in her gut that it was a bad idea? Millions of Americans already did. I was with about 100,000 of them marching in San Francisco in October, 2002. These people knew that going to war with Iraq was wrong, wrong, wrong. They didn't need to split hairs over it, or pore over legal documents with a microscope, or worry about how it would affect their career, to know that this was a fishy war, a trumped-up war, a war with other motives than protecting Americans from terrorism.

I guess our numbers just weren't enough yet to make the politicians worry about anything other than their jobs or "looking tough."

Meanwhile, there were a few glimmers of sanity, of reality, in all that mind-boggling mess. Barack Obama was one of those glimmers. Ted Kennedy was one of those glimmers. These are the people whom - regardless of whatever other flaws they may have - I look to for hope, for leadership, in a world where both qualities are sorely needed.

Now we get to the lie detector part. What can I say? I can only listen to people, and look at their body language, and like a dutiful jury member, decide for myself what's real or not. When Obama speaks, I feel - in my gut - that he is telling the truth. When Clinton speaks I feel that I am being served up a calculated plate of politics. Same sh-t, different politician.

In the end, it comes down to a simple matter of gut feeling. How else can we know anything in this life, after all is said and done? We can read and talk and listen and learn, but ultimately, as e.e. cummings said, "feeling is first." And so it is with our votes. We go with what we feel, even if we call it "what we know".

Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps Obama is simply doing a better acting job and I've been snowed (though I don't think so). And I can't guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obama will be the Kennedy-King dream that some are hoping for. But I'm willing to give him a chance. Clinton had her chance to decide on America's future, and in my opinion, she blew it. Big time.



Blogger lisa said...

Wow, thank you, Caroline --
wonderfully-well written!
xo ~L

8:45 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

That was a good one Caroline! I agree with you, it came down to that one issue.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

This is so artfully presented -- who says art can't be used for change! I wish the whole world could read this.

I feel the same frustration w/ Hilary, but I don't know if Barack is the silver bullet. The other day I had the dark thought that the only difference b/w the two is that Obama just hasn't been in Washington long enough to have a smudge on his record, and that it will only be a matter of time before he starts politicking/flipflopping.

Usually I vote Green Party (I'm a registered GP so couldn't vote in the primary), and I am able to do that knowing that my state will go Democrat no matter what I do -- freedom in insignificance. However many of my friends are beating the drums for Obama -- who knows, if he wins the primary, maybe I'll even vote for him. Green Party is the lonely irrelevent high road, and it would be nice to be part of something that combined hope with actual possibilities. God knows we need some of that after the destruction caused by Bush, who has killed more Americans then the terrorists.

xo Jill

11:04 PM  
Blogger wampoline said...

Hey thanks all for your comments everyone! I did feel a bit shy posting this, so im' happy it resonated with some of you.

Anne-Marie, a New Zealander friend who lives in Paris, wrote me this (and has kindly given me permission to include it here)

"just read your super tuesday blog post and you have put into words so
beautifully my feelings (except the bit about growing up with
narcisistic parents ;)

i swear that reading it brought out in me the same kind of emotions that i experience watching barack obama's speeches.

i just wish i could send a link to your blog post to all the democrats
in the states that are yet to vote."

Well...it seems like Obama doesn't really need my help at this point, but i really appreciate the encouragement to keep writing and keep voicing opinions! It does seem to be an important part of being a citizen in this world - and something i used to do a lot more of, before I became cynical and jaded like everybody else. Perhaps I like Obama so much because he reminds me of a time in my own life when it still made sense to believe in something, and actually take sides instead of constantly trying to see all points of view until you lose sight of the big picture. As a wise person once said to me, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

1:50 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Excellent post. Frankly, I don't trust any politician, but I will vote for Obama for the mere fact that I want a different family in the white house. How many decades have we had the same two families running our country?

8:21 PM  

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