Monday, July 30, 2012

Vote For The Best Man

Sure, vote for the one that you think is a good man, the best man available in the choice as it stands. Easier than it sounds.

Am I a good person? Am I one that can be trusted to judge others? My favorite joke is from a movie, “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” a Geena Davis vehicle featuring Samuel L. Jackson. Ms. Davis’ movie husband, on the occasion of his own birthday, offers a toast to himself: “. . . a toast to me, because I’m a good man, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t curse.” After a pause, he says with mock horror, “oh shit! I do smoke and drink!” What makes a good person, after all?

Me? Good? To begin with, I drink, I smoke, and I curse. Any qualities that you may see as good in me are probably there mostly for purposes of expedience and manipulation. Just give me the lightning, ye gods, for only half an hour and the world will quickly see how good I really am, to its horror. That may be true for all of us though, and I am happy to be judged by the qualities in me that you can see, rather than by the content of my heart.

Americans will be voting for president before too long, and on the surface the choice is a stark one.

Vote For Willard

Go ahead, see if I care. Furthermore, see if I care if you all vote for Willard and put in a Republican congress too. Go ahead! I dare you. At least things will get exciting.

It’s no mystery what an all Republicans, all the time government would do, they’ve made no secret about it. Amazingly, like Hitler in “Mein Kampf,” they are only too happy to tell you. And there are two people on the Supreme Court who could go at any moment, either by retirement or in a pine box. Who would Willard appoint? Who would the new congress ratify? Oh, yes, that would make a seven to two Supreme Court backing the Republican supremacy. What would they do? Think about it for a moment, you already know, I don’t have to tell you. If one or two of the seven suddenly developed an independent streak, one or two of the two would have to be very, very careful crossing the street, and flying in private planes would be out of the question (he said, with meaningful innuendo).

And Willard, do you think he is a good person? Is there one shred of evidence to suggest that he may be? I don’t see it. Plenty of signs though, that he is not.

Vote For The President

Before he took office there were many signs that he was a good person. He is certainly charming and polite, almost to a fault. He graduated from Columbia University and from Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the law review. He had his choice of where to go at that point, the world was his oyster, an almost limitless income was open to him. He chose, though, to spend the next years voluntarily poor, struggling even, with student debts dragging on for a decade or more. He chose service. That’s a good man right there. He’s a good family man too. Not like some of them who seem hardly to remember their children’s names. There’s more evidence of goodness, you either know it already or you can find it.

Whether you are disposed to evaluate him fairly, or not, is a real question for us this year.

After a term in office, there’s more evidence that we need to look at. On balance, he still looks like a good man, but maybe now like a good but imperfect man in a difficult situation. The family thing is still solid. Sure, there’s a lot of what is going on that I don’t like, the whole drone thing, the creeping imperialism, the ascendency of monied interests, the casual threats to the social safety net, and the primacy of financial considerations in every single controversy or societal choice, to name a couple.

Yes, I am one of those who is loathe to criticize the President. There’s plenty of people singing that song already, they don’t need my voice to help them. Mostly, though, I am deeply afraid of the alternative. So go ahead, if you so choose, vote for the President. There are more reasons to do so than not. Unless you can’t get past that Elephant-In-The-Room, that devilish threshold issue, you know the one, unless there’s just something about the man that sets you against him. Or two things, if you count his name. Search your consciences America, you’re better than you are acting this year.

A Choice Between Bad And Worse

Or maybe between "good/bad" and "bad/bad," or even "bad/worse."  An easy choice, when you look at it like that.  So really, there are more than two possible outcomes, and it’s the choice between the bads and the worses, with maybe a good in there somewhere if you have a generous spirit. Mr. Obama and a Republican congress? Willard and a Democratic congress? Mix and match. Any old way it gets sliced, however, the new politics of obstruction and polarization will remain with us.

I read blogs and news sources outside of my natural sphere, and the comments on the right wing sites are appalling. The divisions that have cynically been engendered over the last twenty or thirty years have calcified into a very dangerous opposition of forces. The unembarrassed racism and eliminationalism are really frightening. “Wookie” jokes about the first lady and claims that Liberals want to kill Conservatives and must be killed first are common. The language of the old John Birch Society sealed its dominance with the addition of “communist” to descriptions of everything that the new right wing extremists are told not to like. Is this what we’ve become?

Gentle reader, my sincerest wish for you and your families is that this impending, new reality does not fall too heavily on you. Falling it is, may the saints preserve us.

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