Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Last night in his concession speech, Senator John McCain said, “The people have spoken.” Will anyone listen? The media is already spinning the election of Barack Obama as inevitable because of the current economic situation rather than a referendum on the last eight years. Of course the economy is part of the equation, but only a part. There is also the unjustified, ill-conceived, badly managed war in Iraq; the steady erosion of personal liberties; the immense failures of federal agencies to meet the needs of ordinary citizens in times of crisis such as Katrina and Ike; the crushing burden of health care costs on businesses and individuals alike, and polarizing arguments designed to distract the American public from things that truly matter. To ignore all these other issues lets the GOP and the Bush administration off the hook for their failures.

But there is blame enough to go around to both parties for those failures. Partisanship has been allowed to derail any meaningful work in our nation’s capitol for far too long. Starting with the Gingrich-led Republican revolution of the mid-‘90s and all through the last eight years, toeing the party line has been more important than serving the needs of the country. The strident ‘us against them’ mentality has overtaken the dedication with which many of our elected officials took office, to the detriment of us all. The powerful but archaic two-party system is suffocating under its own weight and the ideals of our country are dying.

In the seemingly endless hours of election night coverage, the networks overflowed with commentators and common folk alike effusing over the dream come true of a black man elected to the presidency of the United States, and I’m sure many of those who went to the polls yesterday did, in fact, cast their vote based on the skin color of the candidates. That is unfortunate, no matter what the outcome. My dream is the election of qualified president whose character and dedication are the headline makers, not race or gender. Until we get past bickering over the things that divide us, whether it be political party, skin color, sex or religion, we are doomed to remain mired in the societal ugliness that has become the norm. Playing on peoples’ fears for the benefit of a personal agenda has become an art form at which politicians excel and it remains the game of choice because it is effective. But it also works on the worst of what it means to be human, dividing rather than uniting, dehumanizing those shadowy ‘others’ and preventing the progress that could bring us all to a higher level of being.

So the people have spoken. Did they think before speaking? And will anyone truly listen?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twenty years ago, while indulging my penchant for on-line surveys (I love knowing my less-than-conventional answers skew the results), I was faced with the question of voting for female candidates. The survey apparently assumed that women would always vote for another woman in order to support some misguided version of feminism and to upset the male dominated political scene. The questions did not consider ideological viewpoints, competence, experience or character, only gender. It saddens me greatly to see large swathes of society still stuck in that mindset.

Listening to the howls of rage from the disappointed Hillary supporters has been stupefying. These self-described feminists seem to believe anyone without a Y chromosome should fall in, lock-step, with any female candidate who files a petition. What happened to the quite reasonable expectation of being hired based on qualifications, not sex? How did feminists lose sight of their goals of equality (remember the ERA?) to demand an ill-logical preferential treatment over a level playing field? And yes, the same questions could be asked of racism and the Civil Rights movement, and blacks voting for Obama..

To blame the media for Hillary’s demise is disingenuous at best. Character assassination is part and parcel of today’s political machine, unfortunately, and the Clintons sling mud with the worst of them. And now, as usual, Hillary and Biden, the lame appeasement addition to the Obama ticket, must retract the nasty things they said about the party’s candidate during primary season in an effort to show solidarity against the evil GOP. Hillary’s faithful continue to wail and some even threaten to vote for McCain to show their independence. Elect another Bush caricature who will continue to bloat the military and gut social programs and civil rights - that’ll teach ‘em!.

Before I, too, am slapped with a dismissive label, no, I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat either, actually. This primary, for the first time in 10 years, I grit my teeth and registered as a Democrat in order to have a say in selecting a candidate in Ohio, but I identify with neither party to any great extent. My voting record since I turned 18 – Carter, Carter, Reagan (ouch), Dukakis, Perot, Clinton, Hagelin (Natural Law), Kerry – shows a decided Democratic bent, but on far too many occasions, those votes were against a candidate rather than for a party platform. The two-party system in this country is broken, but that is a topic I have addressed in other writings..

The standard argument for affirmative action programs states that there is no level playing field, that we must provide a head start for those victims of past abuses (generationally past, in most cases). When can we stop allowing victimhood of ancestors from affecting actions of today? Such behavior only perpetuates the divide by setting up a new class of victims on the other side of the coin – white, male, etc. – and exacerbates hostilities. It’s a vicious circle that must be stopped to be cured..

Until society can move beyond treating individuals as sexes, colors, faiths, etc., and start interacting as human beings, each with unique preferences and ideologies, we are doomed to repeat these futile machinations and posturing. No, I will not vote for Hillary because we are both women; I believe she is patently unelectable, too polarizing to be effective in the White House, and too much an insider to ever really work for the common good. Obama is only marginally ahead on those counts, but again, I am faced with voting against a candidate (McCain) rather than for someone in whom I can truly believe. Sex – and race – have nothing to do with it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

After a two-year blogging hiatus, I am back...a college graduate! It took 32 years of effort, but the BA is now mine and grad school looms.

My senior project at Antioch University McGregor involved a research paper examining belief in god. The result: Comments are welcome.

Watch for regular updates now that I don't have syllabi to juggle every week!