exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

choosing sides

by Jen at 5:17 pm on 6.01.2008 | 1 Comment
filed under: rant and rage

There’s been a lot of discussion about the upcoming presidential elections on a forum I am a member of, ever since the Iowa caucus results this week. And to this point, I’ve found myself shying away from jumping into any particular camp. I feel like I’ve been fairly disengaged from the campaigning thus far – which is probably not a bad thing, considering there’s still 11 months left to go. But I’m at a point where I want to feel like I have an idea of who I’d put my vote behind, if I had to choose.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about this the past few days, and doing some background reading. Unfortunately, I’m a bleeding heart liberal and pacifist (I know!! shock! surprise!! pick your jaw up off the floor!! ) ) so the only candidate whose platform really jibes with all my own personal views is Dennis Kucinich… who won’t make it out of the first round of primaries. He’s the only candidate I could ever enthusiastically support as a champion of my brand of peace and social justice.

Which leaves Clinton and Obama – both extremely intelligent, diplomatic, capable people, who I think could restore some international good will. Who could probably surround themselves with smart support and reasoned experience to make up for their own lack thereof.

Til recently, I suspected that I’d probably end up voting for Hillary – while I’ve never been happy her more centrist views, she has a commanding Thatcheresque quality about her. She’ll never give people the warm fuzzies, but I thought, “Okay, she seems like she could run a country, even if I might not like the way she’d run it.”

And disappointingly, both of them refuse to take a stand against the death penalty. Both of them have refused to support gay marriage (or alternatively, taking the state out of marriage entirely and giving everyone civil unions). Both of them have voted for the Mexico/US fence roll Both are staunchly pro-Israel, though that’s completely unsurprising (i’m not anti-israel as much as I’m against blindly supporting a country and leadership which has plenty of its own failings).

More worryingly, Hillary has said stated that she believes national security always trumps human rights – which is how we ended up with Guantanamo Bay. And she supports making flag-burning illegal – something which to my mind, directly seeks to undermine the most fundamental principles of the First Amendment.

So I think I’m beginning to lean towards Obama, for a few salient political reasons (he supports a guest worker programme [on of the only things I have ever agreed with Dubya on], he wants to begin ending our involvement in Iraq *now* as opposed to some nebulous future date, his anti-lobbyist stance, and his belief in a tolerant, religiously diverse nation/government which does not seek to impose its religious beliefs on others [and perhaps I believe this more since his father became an atheist and his mother was "spiritual but skeptical of organised religion"])… but mostly because I’m beginning to realise I want to believe in somebody’s enthusiasm.

I know it’s just my wide-eyed idealism shining through. But I think more than anything else, what I really want is to believe in somebody that believes. Someone who is really passionate about their vision, someone who wholeheartedly thinks that they can effect change. I’m tired as hell of cynicism and jaundiced opinion. I’m tired of backpedalling and non-committal evasiveness. I want some backbone and outspoken resolution. I want someone who refuses to pander to influence. I want to have someone speak with conviction and have people believe it. I want idealism and optimism and someone who can make me hope again. I want something that resonates.

I once heard Ralph Nader say that unless people start voting for leaders they want and believe in, instead of against people they don’t want out of fear and cynicism, the system will never change. I’ve really taken that to heart – since the 2000 elections, I have made a conscious decision to stop voting out of the the “least evil” principle. And while many would say that means that I am “wasting” my vote by sometimes voting for people who have no realistic chance of winning, it’s the only basis on which I want to engage in the electoral process anymore.

If I can’t vote from my heart, I don’t want to vote at all.

I’d love it if Kucinich ran as a 3rd party candidate so I could vote for him. (And if Hillary gets the Democratic nod, I may just have to write him in.) But in the absence of that unlikely ballot scenario, I think I want to be able to vote for someone who has the audacity to hope.

Because if you’re not going to vote for someone you *want to lead the country*, what the hell is the point?

Count me in.

1 Comment »

1 Comment

  • 1

    Comment by Sarah

    7.01.2008 @ 16:17 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I think that is why he has gotten so much more support than he ’should’ have gotten. People are finally..FINALLY starting to vote with conviction instead of fear and electability. Obama is far from the perfect candidate, but he exudes hope and optimism, and I feel like with him I can let out a giant sigh.

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