Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Politics (one time)

I'll preface this post with two statements:

1) I think this will be the last time I post about politics until the election is over.
2) If you plan on reading, please read the entire post (it eventually turns introspective and has a happy ending... not that kind of happy ending, Waffles).

I played goaltimate, a smaller version of ultimate frisbee, this afternoon for the first time in months. The goalty was fun, but on the way home, at the first stop light, I pulled into the middle lane and the car turning left had an Obama/Biden 08' bumper sticker. Living in Seattle, it wasn't the first, nor will it be the last, Obama/Biden 08' sticker I see. In fact, three of my neighbors have Obama/Biden signs out on their front lawns. I noticed the signs on my drive to the fields, but didn't think much of it. I remember thinking: I don't think I'll ever put a sign on my front lawn.

Sitting at the stop light I came to an epiphany.

It started by realizing I was glad the bumper sticker on the car next to me wasn't a McCain/Palin sticker. I thought this for a few reasons. The sight of an Obama/Biden sticker to me is a reassuring gesture by the owner of that vehicle--he or she *gets it*. Instantly, I wondered what my reaction would be if the sticker was for McCain/Palin. First, I would think it ballsy of the owner to place the republican sticker in Seattle. I'd fear for property damage if I were them. Second, and more importantly, I realized that they, and half the country, feels the exact opposite of the way I do.

Drive anywhere in Idaho outside of Boise, and if you sport a McCain/Palin sticker, you'll likely get a head nod, a truck horn, a discount on coffee--you name it. If you walk into a cafe with an Obama T-shirt on, I'd be interested to see what kind of service you get.

And then I thought... why does it have to be like this? I felt an enormous force of pity over the whole situation. The close-mindedness of so many people, including myself. I see the world very differently than the majority of Americans. I have friends of different race, gender, sexual orientation, geographic location, and yes, even political party. I'm not their friend because of any of these characteristics, I am their friend because of themselves as individuals.

Dr. Chako put up a "Move to Canada" video on his blog today, and it was one of the first things I saw when I sat down in front of my computer after driving home. The video actually hits pretty close to home. When I was living in Sacramento with Stacey during and after the 2004 election, we considered moving to Canada. We picketed on the capital steps calling for recounts in Ohio and Florida. I, along with Al Gore and plenty of other people, thought there was no way our countrymen would re-elected Bush Jr. And when it happened, I was shocked. To lose an election yet win the popular vote was a terrible thing. I felt like my vote did not matter unless I lived in a handful of few key swing states.

Picketing was a surreal experience, with a few hundred people. I was the most moderate of picketers, with a range from me to the guy leading the chants with the microphone. I was moderate because I was pretty sure we would accomplish nothing. Is Bush going to be toppled by the dude with the ratty hair and hoarse voice? I don't think so. It might be the most amazing thing in the world, but it just isn't gonna happen.

I'm not sure exactly why we didn't move to Canada, but I think it was a multitude of things. Family being in the U.S. was probably the biggest deterrent. Another deterrent was the hope that instead of abandoning the U.S., we can stay here and fix it. There seem to be many different Americas, depending on whose eyes you are looking through.

If you look through my eyes in high school, America was an amazing place. 17 years old with a car of my own. Freedom. Girls to chase and time to do it. Time to play tennis on the school team, joking around and hitting dead tennis balls out of the park. Keggers to find on the weekends, but only drinking a sip of beer.

Fast forward to 24. I am vehicle-less and standing in the rain at a bus stop waiting for my bus home from work. People whiz by in their cars, oblivious to me. I wish I am in a car, safe from the weather and home in 15 minutes instead of an hour. I realize then that in high school I was in the vast minority. Most kids at my high school did not drive to and from school--but the kids I associated with did, so I thought it was the norm.

If you look through the eyes of practically anyone else, you'll realize each individual is vastly different, and has their own agenda when voting. For some people, their vote is as shallow as not wanting gays to get full marriage benefits. Gays not being able to marry is more important than the economy to them. Others truly believe that McCain or Obama's plans for the Iraq War and the economy are the best options.

Me? My vote is close-mindedly narrowed down to one topic this year, and it is more important than the War or the economy to me. Our standing in the world community is the reason I am voting for my candidate this year. I don't like our role as gun-slinger. We are a very unappealing role model for other countries to look up to right now, and I want that image to change. I'm thinking long-term with my vote, and I realize that all superpowers die out, and the quickest way to die out is to spread yourself too thin. But if you've played Risk, you already know this.

I think a great thing about America is that we have the ability to treat each other as individuals without labels. There are many places in the world where two people just cannot be friends. Whether that is religion or any other dividing factor. I like the fact that Dr. Chako, his wife, and their kids, can come visit and have an amazing day up at my cabin--dealing with each other on a person-to-person basis instead of on one of the factors that might divide us.

Blogger gatherings are a great example of the one-to-one contact that I'm talking about. Sure, we have poker and blogging in common, but just look at all the differences. Cat fights occur here and there, which is easier to do through the internet than face-to-face, but I have yet to hear of a fight at one of the many blogger get-togethers. Everyone leaves with a smile on their face, or at least a smile on the inside. I'll never forget playing mixed games at MGM with a table full of bloggers until 5am. Every time a local would come to the table they would be happy to see us, and it wasn't because we were giving away money (well, besides me). They must have seen our motley crew and wondered how the hell we all knew each other. And in all honesty, we didn't know each other very well, but we knew we'd have a great time together, and we did.

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Blogger The Wife said...

I think you hit the nail on the head - if people like all of us can find some common ground, even if our backgrounds, ages, stations in life, don't make that seem logical . . . there is probably a better solution to being a world citizen.

More blogger fun, I guess.

11:02 AM  

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