Polls are really good at one thing, creating jobs for people who like talking about polls:
Similarly, in things that do not matter:
Related Post: Is it Election Day yet?
Related Post: My Lincoln obsession started early.
Is it Election Day yet? Pretty please? Don’t know if I can handle two more months of this b.s.
And b.s. it is, on both sides. Every day we are inundated by silly shit that just does not matter. One of my conservative FB friends posted this:
Times have changed, no doubt, but for better or for worse, daytime talk shows are one of the best ways to reach the masses. And after all, when you’re President, the masses are your constituency and you take every chance you get to talk directly to them. You know who else figured that out?
It feels like my desire to be an engaged citizen and a well-informed voter means I just have to sift through garbage all day to find out what’s really going on. So Mitt Romney said something dumb about airplane windows, who cares? Everyone misspeaks, and as much fun as liberals had making fun of Bush’s made-up words, I think we can all agree that that was not his greatest flaw as President.
This airplane thing, or making fun of Romney’s tan, or Obama going on The View, that’s all beside the point. The point, as I see it, is this:
In two months, we’re going to elect a President whose job it is to represent the United States on the world stage. The person we elect should be the one who most shares our values about what makes America special, about what we need to do differently, about what are the best paths to progress, and where that path should lead. I like a fine orator, too, but that’s not what this is about.
To my view, here’s how it boils down, though feel free to jump in on the comments if you see it differently:
Fundamentally, Democrats believe that there is systemic inequality in America’s history that has led to widespread inequality now. The government should not be blind to that history, and should work to assist populations that have been harmed in the past as well as create a level playing field moving forward. Social ills (drug dependency, crime, teen pregnancy, etc) are the results of lack of access to education, health care, etc and should be addressed with holistic approaches to poverty reduction. Democrats believe in autonomy of person, which means that individuals have the right to find their own happiness as long as it is not at the expense of society. The government should stay out of the private sphere, which means not regulating or incentivizing sexual behavior or family structure. Democrats believe that America is stronger for its immigrant history, and that our future strength is also tied to embracing diversity by facilitating the growth and education of immigrating and struggling populations.
Fundamentally, Republicans believe that America is a country where anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. Systemic inequality is an excuse for laziness and lack of ambition. Republicans believe that those who work can earn enough to feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, and keep themselves healthy. Social ills are largely the result of individual or community weakness and lack of discipline and should be punished harshly as a deterrent to others, not rewarded with extra social services. Republicans believe that a free market will, in the long run, create the best solutions for all Americans, even if it leaves some behind in the short term. Republicans believe that traditional family structures are good for the health of the country, and that the government does not have a responsibility for indulging individual life choices that deviate from that model. Republicans believe that resources should be directed to American citizens first, before supporting immigrants, and that Christianity is a fundamental feature (if not explicit) of Real America.
Am I oversimplifying? Yes. Am I biased? Yes. Does this do a disservice to some Democrats and some Republicans? Yes. But reading between all the silly b.s. about talk-shows, tanner, airplane windows, this is what I hear from both sides. The Americas they envision are very different places, and this election shouldn’t be about who flubs the fewest interview lines, whose wife is a better mom, who has the most adorable children, but about what you envision for 21st century America.
But, alas, I don’t make the rules.
Related Post: The fundamental political issue: sex.
Related Post: Huffington Post and the changing iconography of the abortion debate.
I feel extremely lucky to be a Democrat this primary season. The choices Republicans are facing are none too pleasant, and I don’t envy them the ballots they’re casting today in Illinois. Lucky for us, there’s nothing on the line. Oh wait, yes there is, a billion other congressional, judicial and local elections. Go vote (if you live in IL…).
Think it doesn’t matter? My alderman ended up in a run-off and won by about 200 votes. Your vote matters infinitely more in local and State elections, simply because so few people bother to go the polls. So go to the polls. Right now. Do it. It will feel great and they may give you a sticker.
But who to vote for? You can go all out and read up on every candidate, but who has that kind of time? I pick a few people or organizations I trust (like my alderman, a media outlet, Planned Parenthood) and check their lists of endorsed candidates. I promise you someone else has done all the research you would have done were you a more organized and efficient person. Print your list and head to the polls.
Related Post: Remember that one time I met a Republican?
Related Post: A chart on marriage equality from last election season.
Last night, I was out for a co-worker’s birthday party, and I got to talking with an acquaintance I’ll call Nate. Thanks to the bar TVs playing CNN instead of the Bulls and a handful of beers, we somehow started talking politics.
I grew up in a progressive town in the Boston suburbs, then I went to a top ten liberal arts university, and now I work at a super casual, hipster heavy tech company where the average employee age is 25. I have not had a whole lot of occasions to meet Republicans. So when Nate and I started talking and he looked at me sideways and declared, “Well, I am a Republican…,” I thought he was kidding.
He wasn’t. For the next hour, we (vaguely drunkenly) talked about the evolution of the Republican party, the upcoming election, and the balance in his mind and mine between social and fiscal issues. Instead of being a battle over wedge issues, we agreed on a lot of fundamentals. It was… reassuring.
This Republican primary cycle is all about pushing out the moderates and moving the party (and the country) further towards an evangelical, patronizing father-knows-best kind of politics that makes me want to vomit on the regular. It’s easy to forget that many Republicans are also sickened by the tone of this conversation, and are looking for a candidate who reflects their fiscal priorities without stomping all over the rights of their gay, female, and secular friends.
When the conversation shifted to Backstreet vs. NSYNC with the arrival of new members of the group, I was a little sad. It’s so rare that I get to have an intelligent, civil, honest conversation about American values with someone on the other side that doesn’t boil down to a Bible vs. non-Bible impasse. We who are on the ground and not on the campaign trails or pundit panels are so much closer to each other than the media would let us believe. What looks in campaign data like polar opposites is actually a spectrum and people like Nate and I are significantly closer to each other than to the respective extremes of our parties.
Related Post: Ugh. Religion worms its way into a jobs conversation in Kentucky.
Related Post: Why I don’t care who Sarah Palin banged in 1987.
Jen Quraishi* at Mother Jones used Google magic to illustrate the state of extreme partisanship in we currently reside. When you have screenshots, who needs words?
I was inspired to do a little copycat googling.
On sex and gender:
On the big question of “why?”:
*Sidenote: I really enjoyed Jen Quraishi’s piece on why she changed her name from Phillips to Quraishi.
Related Post: Oh hilarious search results… I wish I could see the disappointed faces of those who land here for the wrong reasons!
Related Post: Google is not infallible.
Can someone please turn this visual history of the democratic party into a shower curtain please?
Check out the expandable version. Who doesn’t want Bill Clinton staring at you while you bathe? Or Geraldine Ferraro… whatever floats your boat.
Related Post: What to buy me for Valentine’s Day.
Related Post: What you should never, ever buy me… or anyone.