Monday, October 20, 2008

Lo siento

"Black Rain" by Ben Harper

I apologise that I have become more and more brazen in breaking my loosely-adhered-to rule of remaining apolitical -- the latest evidence being the Barack Obama badge over there on the right.

If you are one of those people who occasionally stumbles upon my posts several months after the fact -- reading this subsequent to the 2008 election -- you'll see that I have since removed the badge, so here it is in the body of the post just for you:

There is something about a presidential election that causes my behaviour to become more and more erratic. I fail to heed the advice of Public Enemy and I believe the hype. I start to think that this really may be our last chance (a) and I get sick in worrying that we'll blow it.

Since the beginning, the rhetoric of the Obama movement has been to give voice to those who have been ignored or unheard over the past several decades. But an honest person would have to admit that sometimes people are unheard because they've given politicians little reason to listen. Ideologically, a politician should be representing the common views of his or her constituency, but practically and in terms of job protection it makes more sense to represent the common views of those people who can be arsed to show up on election day.

A handful of this blog's readers may remember the time that Paul Wellstone came to my high school and pointed out that the visit was politically a waste of time because people our age were so unlikely to vote (b). There is little to no incentive in fighting for people who won't stand behind you.

And so I worry about a variation of the Bradley Effect rearing its ugly head -- a slacker effect. It strikes me that a number of these unheard voices are the voices of those people who are perpetually telling themselves and others that they're just trying to get their shit together. You know, the relatively intelligent cook at Denny's who is a nice enough bloke but who will never leave his mother's basement. He talks a good game, purports to have dreams and aspirations but is unlikely to put any of them into action.

"Will he really show up on 4 November?" I think. "Is he actually even registered to vote?"

I get so wrapped up in this and the potential negative consequences that I lose perspective. I can't see the funny side. I can only imagine endless The End Of America As We Know It scenarios. It makes me feel sick and empty and frustrated and helpless. I feel cornered. I feel trapped.

At least I'm not the only one feeling this way.

The Karl Rove strategy is to simply accept that there is an insufferable throng of whining idiots who are too lazy to go to a specific building on a specific day and punch a specific hole in a specific piece of paper. So, the way to win an election is to pull harder into the party base and hope that you've got more numbers than the other guys -- let the people in the middle flounder in their laziness and indecision. McCain-Palin appears to have taken on this strategy, doing its best to paint Obama as whatever awful thing they can think of that will send the base into fits. This week they're going for socialist.

But then they see Obama raising enough campaign money to stabilize Iceland's economy, and 100,000 people turning up at a rally, and their own No. 2 incapable of doing anything but nodding her head and they think: "Shit."

Cornered and panicked they are allowing themselves to go batshit crazy, like Michelle Bachmann McCarthy Overdrive (c) calling for investigation of people with "anti-American views," or a certain family member who will remain nameless asking why I and the child bride had bothered to vote when we so clearly "hate America."

The peaceful transition of power seems to expose how fragile that peace is. We're all going a bit nuts, regardless of what pockets we're from.

I am trying to ease away from constantly paying attention to all this. But, having today agreed to be on Welsh radio the morning after the election, I can't make any promises. It's on my mind. I find it difficult to blog about anything else. I'm sorry.

(a) If America is great, one of the things that makes it so is the scarcity of last chances.

(b) Wellstone was unique in his desire to represent even those who ignored or opposed him.

(c) Is a BTO reference too obscure for anyone who didn't grow up with KQRS?


jg_38 said...

I carry a reminder in my wallet to never forget Oct. 25th.

How I would love to be that man, how I would love that man to still be here!

Chris Cope said...

(For those of you playing along at home and for our friends in the Home Countries, Paul Wellstone died 25 October 2002)

Anonymous said...

Don't fret Mr.C.

Polls are looking good, perversely the economomy will help and people have registered. Key States look to be moving BO's way too - all the dirty linen has been aired, money is rolling in.

Election should be in the bag.
Welcome back to the fold USA, be nice to see you again..........

Toodle pip

Unknown said...

Remember, wanting to change America for the better is hating America.


Pearl said...

I burst into tears, at work, the day Wellstone died. As a Minnesotan, I was so incredibly proud that he represented me.

I can't help but feel that the America I grew up with is not the America that is on the horizon, and I don't like it.


p.s. KQ is still playing the same stuff it's been playing for the last 20 years. :-)

Anonymous said...

I prefer chocolate rain.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the other day how to accurately describe Bachmann. I kept saying, "Man, she is fuckin nuts!" but I think your "batshit crazy" more aptly captures her persona. Kudos! Now that she has recanted, kinda, sorta, from her comments on "Hardball" MN RNC has pretty much pulled the funding feeding tube from her campaign, local sources have said.