As much as young people are excited about getting older and perhaps hoping their youthful perspective will open up the aged’s eyes, and finally close the gap between yourself and one’s parents; there is something to be said for age. With age comes experience and wisdom that simply cannot be dismissed. Do not fear, this is not a prelude to defending Hillary Clinton. Alas, I have not gone over to the dark side. Rather, I find I understand my parents a little bit better every day.
My parents support John Edwards. They are almost rabid about it. Well, that’s not fair. They are passionate. They care, which is more than I can say for about 50% of my peers. Actually, I think, if mis padres didn’t have to pay bills and work every day like everyone else – they would be out campaigning for John Edwards. They kind of do it already of their own accord. When I was home for vacation, they were calling their friends and family talking up John Edwards.
Originally, I thought their support was just about numbers, so he’d survive and stay through to the Convention. Then, I thought it’s because he’s their favorite candidate. Well, no, that’s not it either – Obama is their favorite candidate. For my parents, it comes down to electability. I linked a Slate article to this here blog some time ago, from Richard Thompson Ford which I thought really tackled the crux of the electability question in a very honest fashion. I made my diagnosis: My parents are the cynics who think the country is not ready for a black president or female president. They are they cynics who disguise themselves as the pragmatic left wing realists. My parents, I thought, are the ones who keep us from advancing the party because of self sabotage, the result of a lack of confidence. I was thinking, imagine how many people do not mark the bubble next to Obama’s name for the same reason. Ultimately, I was disappointed that my parents fell into this category. I thought I would show them up with my new youth perspective and show ‘em, ‘times are a changin’!!
Not only were my parents “too old” to be abreast of change, they were also strategic. My parents want to win. They want to win at the expense of principle? They had been explaining not one Democratic ticket had won without a southerner in living memory. Okay, fine, this went in one ear and out the other. This had no bearing on my understanding. They continued their entreaties to whomever would listen. For years, my parents had been explaining to me this country was racist and misogynistic, especially salient – I think – since they have two black daughters, trying to prepare us for the real world. I agreed, but I was hoping the country was turning the corner and that my parents were just too old to see it. And then, today, it dawned on me. Everything they had been saying fit cleanly into this little conceptual puzzle of the US.
The Civil War still haunts our nation to this day.
Here, we have a golden opportunity to change the course of history. We have the opportunity to not only right what was wrong with the past eight years, but to move the country forward. We have been given an inch (maybe, like a foot) due to the Bush Administration dissolving into flames these past few years, manifested in our 2006 recapture of Congress. The question remains for Democrats, ‘Are we going to take a mile, even though we’ve been given an inch?’ Yes, the Republicans pillaged this nation to line their pockets for generations to come. Most importantly, with Rove – the brain trust at the helm of their ship, they managed to not account for the damage they’ve done to the future of their party. Maybe they don’t know and they don’t care. I don’t know and don’t care. That’s not the issue. However, there is no way after these eight wonderful years we would vote for another Republican in November, unless we did something extremely stupid. I think we can all generally agree a Democrat will take office next January. No one even tells us the approval ratings of Pres. Bush anymore. The last time I saw approval ratings was when Bush was approaching Nixon levels post-Watergate. The point is the Democrats are gambling with this election. They (the Democratic leadership) figure they can slip in a candidate who will not only turn the country around but make history in the process by being who they are – showing a new face to the new America and world. The Democrats hope the country is so fed up with the status quo they would be willing to vote for a purple gay XXY Scientologist from Saturn. They’re gambling on the fact that the country would vote for anyone as long as they do not resemble Bush in any shape or rhetoric.
Wrong. This country is incredibly uneducated. We are incredibly divided. The partisanship of the 1990s is still present. It has only been overshadowed by an intense shared dislike for the present administration which unites us all against a common enemy. For the time being. We vote on emotionally charged issues in this country. We vote on identity, values, and looks. Even names. My mother always challenges the stars above as to why the Democrats, in 1988, ever thought someone named Dukakis would win? Joe Schmo from Idaho cannot say Dukakis or spell it. It took this country a long time to get over the fact that Catholics might be okay as political representatives. And Kennedy still died. Granted, his faith, I’m sure, was not the only reason when you get down to it. But, someone crazy enough to shoot a president may only need that reason. In fact, whether or not a president is married matters to Americans. When was the last time we had a bachelor for president? Never. Oh, wait, my bad. James Buchanan the 15th president of the US was a bachelor. He was engaged but his fiancé died. Not to mention, his presidency coincided with the beginning of the Civil War. His term ended in 1861. Thank you, Wikipedia. Inconsequential concerns as to someone’s religion, marital status, and name all still matter. If they didn’t, no one would be trying to make the OBAMA OSAMA OBAMA OSAMA connection on conservative talk radio. No one would care Obama’s middle name is Hussein. No one would try to say Obama had attended an Islamic school. No one would question his faith, asserting he’s a Muslim, even though he attends a Baptist Church in Chicago. You know how Obama wants to get past the arguments that keep resurfacing over and over again. You know how Obama wants to lay those issues to rest. You know how Obama wants change in the form of progress.
Well, it’s not going to happen. Maybe, later. But, not now. That’s what my parents were trying to get at. The Democratic strongholds on the coasts are more affluent people who use the internet, read a variety of media, listen to NPR, read and write blogs like this. The Democrats are about change. We always have been. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be the party we are. But, there’s a sizable portion of the country, we call ‘flyover country.’ That’s the part we forget about. That’s the part that still calls New Englanders, Yankees. They’re from small towns. Why do they live in those small towns? Maybe it’s because they feel safer. Maybe it’s because they like knowing the guy who pumps their gas, the guy who owns the general store, and the lady who runs the bookshop around the corner. They like familiarity. They don’t like change. That’s why they don’t live in San Francisco or New York City. And that’s okay. That’s why this country is so big. That’s why we can choose where to live under the circumstances we deem most comfortable.
Therein lies the problem. These people cannot identify with a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. These people could identify with a John Edwards, if they would give him some media time. John Edwards was born in South Carolina. Yes, he didn’t get his state in the Primary election. But, that’s not his fault. That’s the media’s fault. The media has chosen to concentrate solely on Obama and Clinton. Maybe the Yankee media want to expose people to these two candidates in order to make them more palatable. Maybe they hope that our reading about Hillary’s clothes and Obama’s ears will make us feel like we know them as well as we know the guy who gives you your coffee every day before you head off to work. Okay. I’m down with the program. But, it seems since we’ve been covering them near two years now, they (the journalists) have over-saturated their audience a bit. What a backlash. See, what is going to happen, friends, is that the near two years of overexposure means we are too familiar with Clinton and Obama. We know them so well, we can predict their next move, their next sentence – We know their body language, understand the subtext of their comments, and even their facial ticks. But, because we have such intimate knowledge of them, we also know their flaws. This may be far fetched, but, I’m not sure George W. Bush has received as much attention as these two since our last round of elections in 2006.
What the smarter thing to have done, rather than taking a mile, was to take the inch. Post up John Edwards the white man from the Southern small town. No, he won’t be the historical moment. No, he won’t be the New America we want to show the world. But, he will be someone for which Joe Schmo to identify with. He could win. By controlling for all those negative bigoted emotions that America is famous for, the extreme prejudice would be neutralized. Crazies would then be forced to make a decision based on the issues.
This is what my parents have been trying to tell me: They want to win. Their long living memory of politics has served them well. As I said earlier, my Dad noted that no Democratic ticket has won that did not, at least, carry a candidate with southern roots.
Lesson time. Shall we take a trip back through history? First, we have only had three Democratic presidents since FDR (by the way, he was from Georgia). Where was Kennedy from? Massachusetts. Okay, what gives? But, where was his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson from? Stonewall, Texas. Alright, one example does not make a theory – stay with me now. I believe Jimmy Carter was our next Democrat after the Nixon era. We would have had to be really stupid to mess that one up. Where was ole Jimmy from? Georgia! Where was Vice Prez Mondale from? Ah, Minnesota the heartland, home to the Mall of America. Are you starting to see the pattern? We all know Clinton was from Arkansas. Now, normally, I could not have made such a connection, what with hardly a quarter of a century under my belt, especially with a good number of those years I wasn’t even seriously watching or thinking critically about politics. However, for those with many more years under their belts such as my parents; these are their memories. They notice long-term patterns.
For these concessions to the South to be even necessary, I can’t help but wonder, if the ghosts of the Civil War are still with us or, at least, the division.
Hey, here’s someone else who sounds like my parents but he’s a journalist!