Thursday, March 20, 2008

Casting my blog vote

I used to watch Senator Obama's 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention online when I had a free moment at work, over and over. That speech, the hope it offered in the middle a wasteland of civic ideals I had thought were constant but seemed smashed and sneered at, felt like a drink of water in the middle of a desert. It was both the future he suggested and the world we actually live in that I recognized in that talk.

It's four years later, and I still feel the same way. I felt that way reading his speech in response to the criticism leveled at his minister last week. I feel this way despite the alarming, interconnected bubbles of hype, despite a fairly close-up (Chicago-eye) view of both his strengths and weaknesses, despite--because of--having to watch him fight for this nomination. Despite occasionally having that gut sense he's something of a "risk" experientially, although in practice I actually don't feel that way; in fact I find that a mercurial requirement in general and think we are at times downright self-contradictingly inconstant about how we demand it in our politicians (the Kerry Phenomenon).

The strengths Obama has demonstrated--in a consistent manner--are the ones I want in office, matching its challenges. He has one face for all, remembers what he says, talks to us (JS) like grownups. He's caught up.

I don't want Senator Clinton for president, and that has never changed. I am thrilled I have the choice the DNC is offering, proud of it, but I'm tired of people assuming my identity would presume one candidate or another. It's naive to say race and gender plays no role in this election, stupid, really, to even phrase it like that, but the fact that I agree Clinton is often reported on and treated with pernicious sexism doesn't mean I want her in office. Most of all I dislike the sense that we somehow 'owe' this position to her, an idea which feels the most sexist, despite the way and contexts in which people phrase it.

119,000 Republicans voted for Senator Clinton in the Texas primary; 100,000 in Ohio, and 38,000 in Mississippi. Rush Limbaugh, among others, has been openly urging Republicans to cast a vote for HRC, if they "can stomach it," to keep the DNC roiled up, the Democratic nominee unclear until the last minute and maybe even influence getting HRC on the ballot, since they know they can beat her. The difference in votes twixt Obama and Clinton in Texas primary? 101,000.

It's awful to think that the sincere fight the Democratic candidates are engaged in could be derailed by more voting games. This is the kind of stuff that has been breaking my heart the last eight years. I hope it changes, and I'm not really sure it will if HRC gets the nomination.