Friday, September 5, 2008

In which I finally get political.

I don't usually talk about politics on my blog. I've mentioned that I support Obama, but that's about the extent of it. I know that politics is personal and people are sensitive about their political beliefs, and I don't want people or readers to feel alienated. I recognize that what I'm about to say is something that not everyone will agree with, and I want everyone to feel free to express their opinions in the comments. I hope that nobody will feel so alienated by what I'm going to say that they will feel that they can't continue reading my blog because of our difference of political opinion. But if people do feel that way, that's fine. What I'm going to talk about is more important.

I don't like John McCain's politics, and I really don't like Sarah Palin's politics. This has nothing to do with McCain's POW experiences, or Palin's pregnant daughter, or the fact that McCain's choice of Palin as VP was a clear case of cynical political pandering.

No. Plain and simple, I think they are wrong about the best way to lead this country forward. And the thing that makes me the angriest is that I think they know they're wrong. They know that their policy plans won't do the most good for the most people, and they don't care. They are about making policies that serve their particular constituencies, and then coming up with a bunch of justifications and platitudes about why everyone else doesn't matter. It's not like Palin didn't know that her speech was full of lies and hyperbole. How can you believe that what you're doing is right when you have to stretch and spin the truth just to sound convincing? How can you believe that you deserve to be in office if you know that you have to lie to the public to get them to elect you?

This argument about small government is bullshit. A truly small government might not provide social services for its worst-off citizens. It might not put gun control laws into effect. But it also wouldn't tell people who could and could not get married. It wouldn't start unnecessary wars and refuse to educate people about sexual health. It wouldn't try to teach the religious philosophy of creationism in public schools. It wouldn't attempt to ban books from public libraries.

So let's get this straight. Democrats don't really believe in small government, but neither do Republicans. Nobody who runs for office really believes in small government. They want to get involved in government because they want to make a difference, and they believe that the government can make a difference.

And I don't believe in small government, either. Not the way Republicans define it. I don't support Big Brother and paternalistic leadership, but I do believe that government is necessary to the smooth functioning of society, and that there are things governments can do to help make life easier for everyone. I also believe that it's totally fine to place a slightly higher burden on the best-off people in our society in order to provide a boost to the worst-off people.

John McCain claims that Obama wants to raise taxes for middle class people, exactly the ones who are suffering from the current economic downturn. In reality, Obama's tax plan would increase the middle class's take-home income by 5%, whereas McCain's would increase their income by only 3%. Obama's plan would raise taxes--but only for the people who can afford it, namely wealthy companies.

Sarah Palin sued the Bush administration over its decision to add polar bears to the list of endangered species because she was afraid it would interfere with oil drilling. She doesn't believe that humans have caused climate change. She wants to teach creationism in public schools. She wants to prohibit abortion, even cases of rape or incest. She's a proponent of banning books from public libraries. She made fun of Obama's community organizing experience as though it's a negative thing that he was working to get ordinary people involved in politics--because to her it is.

McCain and Palin have blind faith that the market will solve for everything. I believe that they are wrong. The people who believe that the market solves for everything are exactly those who have benefited from it. And not everybody has. There are so many people who don't have insurance, who can't afford healthcare, who work crappy jobs or can't get a job at all, who can't afford housing in a safe neighborhood, who can hardly make it through the day. Those are the people who get lost in the system, the ones for whom the market doesn't solve.

I am actually, literally scared of the idea of the U.S. as run by McCain and Palin. I don't think our country can take four more years of this. Certainly those people who are at the bottom of the pyramid can't. And the question is whether those at the top will notice. If McCain and Palin win, I see no evidence that they will. The rich will keep getting richer, the poor will keep getting poorer, and the rest of the world will grow more and more disenchanted with this country.

Read this (and this). Read this. Read this. And read this.

The rest of the world can't believe that the McCain-Palin ticket could win. Maybe, for once, we should take our cue from them instead of trying to force them to do as we do. Spin, exaggeration, and charisma shouldn't be enough to win an election. The strange idea that disagreeing with someone is just evidence of your political bias, rather than evidence that you have convictions about how great our country can be for all of its residents, should not be used as an excuse not to engage on the issues and really discuss what policy stances will be best for our country as a whole.

I can believe McCain and Palin could win this election. But I'm really hoping I don't have to.


  1. amen sister. this election has raised my blood pressure to dangerous levels, i'm sure of it.

  2. I could even watch Palin's speech and left the room several times during McCain's. The possibility of them being elected it too scary.

  3. I have NEVER been so scared of someone getting elected as I am about the Republican ticket. Usually I just figure "Oh it can't be that bad, whatever the outcome." Things are already bad and McCain/Palin stand to make things worse. I'm from a small town and really was offended by the way Palin kept calling herself a "small town" gal. Palin has never fought the good ol boys club, she's a member....

  4. I was SO disappointed in Palin. I'm a gigantic Dem, but still I would have been able to appreciate an intelligent woman in the WH. Her speech was so witchy, and I didn't find her credible. Take out the 'l' in her name, and you've got 'Pain'. In the ass. How she had the nerve to talk about supporting families with handicapped children after cutting funding for assistance to them in Alaska by 60%, I don't know.

    I enjoyed listening to McCain after the beginning of his speech where he pandered to the crowd. I'm always interested in his real life story, and I have liked him very much as a person for a long time. Lately, though, I wonder where his bravery has gone. Maybe some people are brave in some ways more than in others, maybe it's his age, maybe it's that he feels that he needs to walk the line more in order to win and would actually break out more as a leader, but I doubt that. I think he's a good man, with a nice family, but that won't make him a good president.

    If Obama loses, it will be our sign to the world that we do not want to move forward into worldism, but rather pretend that we can still be isolationist. And I will consider moving to England.

  5. you already know where i stand.



  6. I find myself so anxious whenever I read pro-McCain posts or articles about McCain inching ahead. He must not win in the fall. If he does, I will be devastated.

    Thanks for this lovely, thoughtful post.

  7. I completely agree with you sans one point- I really don't think Republicans know they are wrong. I think we all seemingly want the same core things but we go about them from entirely different angles. We all want safety and money and the right to live our lives, etc. but to Republicans it seems that means military and not taxing the rich and cutting social service spending. I can't bring myself to believe they know they are wrong. My Republican friends are not idiots- they believe in something just like I believe in the Democratic platform.

    But on everything else? Spot on, sister. And kudos for you for saying it.

    And seriously, if one more person insinuates that I am just "charmed" by Obama's charisma I will PUNCH THEM. It is insulting to my intelligence to say I stand behind a candidate because they speak well. That is total and complete bullshit. I have read up and followed Obama. I know what he stands for and it's what matters most to me.

  8. I's interesting reading personal bloggers' opinions, of both the democratic and republican persuasions. Though I haven't watched the speeches (work and how much I hate delayed closed captioning), I have been trying to keep up where I can and follow the conventions. Quite frankly, it's all appalling. I hope this time, our country gets it right.


    Great post, Jess. And I couldn't agree with you more.

    This is the first time the thought of my candidate losing actually has me AFRAID.

  10. AMEN!

    I am so glad you wrote this (and wrote it so well). I am still too foamy-at-the-mouth to write a coherent, thoughtful piece.

    Here, here, sister!

    (A. and I have contacted the Canadian Embassy inquiring about immigrating. No shit. So far it has only been once contact, but it is the first step to RUNNING LIKE HELL.)

  11. As you know, I am on the other end of the political spectrum, but I never take it personally.

    I have my reasons for the political beliefs that I have, as do you. I could counter practically everything in this post, but I won't. I often believe that people don't really WANT to see things differently from a political perspective. I do appreciate bloggers' abilities to keep from being nasty when they disagree about politics, at least the commenters that come to my blog (you included, of course).

    "I really don't think Republicans know they are wrong" was said by one of your commenters. I don't think any of us are wise enough to be declaring one party's way right or wrong, and I certainly abstain from comments like that.

    I don't think Democratic policies are "wrong". I feel there is a better way.

    Politics are cyclical. One party will rule for a number of years, with the other complaining how everything is wrong, then the cycle is reversed.

    Ideally, in my opinion, we would avoid all the rhetoric and just work together. That's all I'm really hoping to see happen. That whoever is elected promotes a stop to all the garbage that leaves important bills hanging because one party is insisting on adding something ridiculous to it just to feel satisfaction that they got their way. I hope that we will use logic to create policies that benefit us both as a country and as individuals, and that politicians will move past their personal agendas.

  12. Really good post. Thanks for posting it.

    Honestly, I couldn't have said a thing better.

  13. Thank you for writing this all out. You say a lot of what I've been thinking, but don't know how to put into words on my own blog.

  14. I love you. Really.

    That was so well-written. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    I have pretty severe panic attacks thinking about what would happen if Obama doesn't win. Ever since having the baby, the future is a million times more important. I cry, sob sometimes actually, when I think that this election could be like Gore/Bush in 2000, or Kerry/Bush in 2004. But I try to stay positive and think that the good guy will win again.

  15. I *might* be in love with you a little bit. Thank you for this. I feel so strongly about all these things, I can hardly hold a rational conversation. It makes my stomach turn when I hear some of those manipulating speaches (on both ends, but especially at the RNC... Guiliani... Did you see that?!) I appreciate it when someone can put together thoughtful analysis like this.

    (Also: OBAMA '08!)

  16. I've tried so hard to keep up with this election, but to be honest, I get physically ill when I read what I feel are injustices done to people who cannot afford to fight back.

    This is why I appreciate reading well thought out pieces like the one you've written here. You've said so beautifully, tactfully, and clearly all the things that I've been thinking, but cannot seem to put to words and make any sense.

    And, quite frankly, I've never been so scared about the possible outcome of an election as I have this one. Please, US, let's get it right this time...

    OBAMA '08!

  17. Better then I ever could have worded it.

    The republican behavior in this election makes me want to cry (well, so does everything else). I want to ask WHY, WHY?!?! To ANY young voter out there who insists on voting republican.

  18. Excellent post, Jess. There isn't a single point in there I disagree with. I especially like this point:

    And the thing that makes me the angriest is that I think they know they're wrong.

    I think you've really hit the nail on the head with that one. They know they're wrong and they know they're selling a bill of falsehood to the American voters and they don't care.

    I really hope we are smarter than McCain-Palin think we are and we don't buy into their tripe.

  19. So, I don't love either candidate. Both VP choices had me shaking my head.

    I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative. I do believe in a smaller government that doesn't attempt to legislate morality. So, I'm disgusted by the Republican party. Seventy-five percent of the country does not approve of the current administration. McCain doesn't need to campaign against Obama to win, he needs to campaign against Bush. I could easily have voted Republican in this election if, you know, they did something that was worthy of the vote. If they aren't going to speak out about this administration, I can't respect them at all.

    So yes, I'm yet another Obama voter, though it's namely because I dislike the other side way more right now.

    (I'm anon for this one. Sorry! I can e-mail you to back up my identity if you want.)

  20. I tell you what. The best part about these two running? All the people getting involved. I only hope that the Dems show up in droves to vote so we can squash out the McCain voters.

  21. AMEN. I agree COMPLETELY. The thought of Palin being the backup for the 72-year-old in-questionable-health McCain makes me want to move to Canada. Permanently.

  22. Yep, I'm with you on this one. I dislike how if you say you support Obama it's always assumed you do because you are a) young or b) in love with how he talks to a crowd. The people I talk to who don't support Obama have a hard time seeing that people support him because of his views. And it's shameful that if you say that you are supporting him, it's for any other reason other than what he stands for. I've done my homework, I know why I would vote for him.

    Sarah Palin's views on abortion and the environment scare me. I worry for the future of your country if they get elected and I'm so glad to read so many educated people (like yourself) voicing their own concern about the election. Voting is the only voice you all have so I really hope those who can vote, do. There's too much at stake to not vote this time, you know?

  23. I truly believe that both Obama and McCain sincerely love this country, and want to do whatever they can to serve it. I simply think that Obama is more what this country needs right now.

  24. I love Larissa's comment. What she said is the simple truth. (about them both loving our country and wanting what's best; not the Obama part, in my personal opinion :))

  25. After you guys voted in Bush for the SECOND time, nothing could surprise me with your guys' politics anymore.

    that being said, I will be very sad if McCain/Palin get voted in. It's time for change, and I'm not seeing that from them.

    (also, the two-party thing? Who dreamed that up? There's so much more to life than just two views on every subject.)

  26. Firstly, I couldn't agree with you more. You have a way with words and I may work on you guest posting over at my place if I can get this series together. =)

    Second, what bothers me most about this election. And every election. Is Democrats hang out with Dems. And Republicans hang out with 'Pubs. When really, the two groups should be having this conversation together. We don't have to agree. In fact, we can vehemently disagree. But, the idea that 99% of your comments are of the Hallelujah variety is somewhat sad. I don't think we should be ashamed of our beliefs and we should have platforms where we can openly discuss stuff.

  27. I think that no matter where anyone stands, we can agree that the last 8 years have been very bad for the country and SOMETHING needs to change.

  28. Yes, exactly!

    I can't do much in California, but you better believe I'll be getting on a bus to Nevada to try to turn it blue.

  29. You did a good job articulating your thoughts. I wish I could do the same...I still haven't made a decision yet. I'm irritated with everybody!

  30. I loved what Sarah had to say about the two party system being so absurd. In this huge, diverse country, WHY are there still only two choices for a leader??? In the countries that are getting it right with health care and taking care of the disadvantaged, you don't see two parties perpetually hissing and spitting at each other and accomplishing very little besides driving up the deficit. You see a whole BUNCH of politicians and you get a whole BUNCH of viewpoints, and people go from there. Like GROWN UPS.

  31. I concur.

    That's all, I just agree with so much here.

    Thanks for going out on a limb. I know people can get mean for these sorts of posts...

  32. Since I'm a Resident but not a Citizen, I don't get a vote. I wish I did, but alas.

    The two-party system that's active in this country is really a detriment to people like me & mine who find ourselves in the (forced) position to choose who we believe to be the 'least of two evils.'

    That said, I'll still read your blog because I love it, but we are definitely on opposite ends of the political spectrum...and as it is, I just found out today that there'll be an election in Canada later this fall too so I have my own country's issues to go back to thinking about. :)

  33. I wrote a long comment and for some reason my phone wouldn't post it. Ugh.

    Anyway, GREAT post.

  34. Love, love this post. Just had to let you know.

    OBAMA '08

  35. I loved this (just got done writing a post of my own on the subject that was far less articulate). One of the things that I like best about reading people's blogs is seeing how they are feeling about current events, and it seems like so many people try to stay quiet--maybe so they don't alienate their readers. It's so IMPORTANT though! I actually contributed money to Obama's campaign today. I never give money to anything (well, Head Start).

  36. Whew. Just finished reading all the comments and well, hmmm. It seems that 3carnations and I are in the minority (either that or my fellow Republicans aren't commenting), but I feel that she adequately said what I would have if I were able to remove myself enough from my feelings to respond. (make sense. no? yeah, I thought not.) I'm so glad that you feel passionately about politics, I think it's too important for anyone not to.

    I'm not a McCain fan. And I never in a million years thought I'd see the day where I'd be voting for him. Ever. But as you said, this election is too important for my voice not be heard, even if I'm not completely in line with my candidate... I'm a conservative. And I feel just as passionately about my convictions as you do.

    Thank you for feeling comfortable enough with us to share something so personal. It's a privilege to read your blog.

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  38. jess, i feel exactly the way you do. thanks for putting it so eloquently.

  39. I was having a great conversation about the US election this weekend with a very international crowd, some of whom have studied in the US. There was a general feeling that McCain is going to win despite the fact that America needs Obama right now.

    Their argument was that the average American cannot relate on a personal level to Obama, they can't imagine sitting and having a drink with him in their house and that that, at the end of the day, is the deciding factor.

    I argued that I have a little more faith in the average American and that if anything, Obama's awesome rhetoric has inspired people to take their vote a little more seriously this time, to really think about the issues, research each candidate and ignore the spinning lies.

    And then to vote for the person that shares their values and takes a stand on the issues that are important to them. Not the person that is the 'woman candidate' or the 'black candidate' or the 'candidate that is just like me'.

    The fact that I am reading so many posts on this election fuels the faith I have that this election can raise the bar on the political process.

    Good for you for writing about it!

  40. Jess, I heart you forever! I was wondering why no one was writing about this on their personal blogs. I am begging you all to find one or two people who don't vote, help them register, and take them to a polling station on Nov 4.

    I am so afraid of M/P winning, because they fight so dirty, and because I think some of their members are just way more hardcore than Dems (ie a Pro Lifer might wait 5 hrs to vote for M/P but would a first time Dem voter do the same for Obama? I hope so). But, Obama is showing strength - sat down for a long interview with FOX who are total Republicans and the piece I saw tonight saw him going toe to toe on I believe the O'Reilly Report, with a guy who obviously is not an Obama fan. Try to get the undecideds to watch this -they are going to grill Obama on foreign affairs and give him a chance to show he is the one who has the skills to be the c-i-c. And Palin, well Palin despite being ready to lead America on day 1 (apparently), is still not ready to give an interview. I also am losing sleep over this. I feel like with McCain in office America seals its place in the world - another country whose greatest days are behind it. :(

  41. I generally view Presidential elections as choosing the lesser of two evils. I really dislike the two party system, and it frustrates me, because I'm an Independent and would rather choose the best man for the job. In this case, I have been right down the middle with both candidates. Until now.

    With that said, I have to thank John McCain for helping me decide whom to vote for. Sarah Palin makes me shudder, and McCain now does too, for picking her. I'm so sick of the mud-slinging and the self-righteousness -- and I'm really looking forward to the debates.

  42. I didn't know that about Palin. It's scary that she and McCain are real contenders for the leadership of the US. Scary!!

  43. Jess, saw this and thought you might want to read it:

    #8 and the censoring of books is one of the few things I didn't know about her. Just when you think she can't get any worse...

  44. wow, you expressed your argument so, so well. and from up here in canada i agree with you 100% after reading this post.

  45. I love this post! I think this will be a close race. It scares me because I know Obama could lose and I think it's crucial that he doesn't. Should be interesting...

  46. This was one of the most articulate well written posts on the subject - it did not appear to have any emotion, but just simple facts.Awesome.

  47. Thank you for writing this post and for the great links. I completely agree with you! I just sent my siblings an email, reminding them to request their absentee ballots. For the first time, all four of us can vote and it would be a shame to not make use of that!

  48. Amen. That was fantastically well said, Jess.

    I am terrified of Palin. Terrified. McCain I could *maybe* live with (if I have to). But Palin? She scares me.

  49. I read this entire post and ALL of the comments, hoping to hear some really great arguements against what you've said. Because although I agree withyou 99.5%, I want to believe, hope that we wouldn't be completely screwed if McCain was to win.

    I just want someone to convince, because right now? I'm almost in tears I'm so worried.