Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This woman won't vote for the woman

It's times like these--in the midst of a hotly contested national election that brings up all sorts of social debates--that I realize how insulated each of us is from our fellow citizens. Certainly, this is a little extra true for those of us living in Madison, but I'd argue that it also applies to people living in towns, great and small, all across the country. It's difficult enough, after all, to keep up with the pulse of your own community--let alone an entire nation made up of hundreds of different demographics and opinions.

So it is that I find myself feeling especially perplexed and troubled by the current political climate. I've been energized by the Obama campaign, with it's high new voter registration numbers (especially with my generation) and long lists of small donors. But ever since McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, I've been bumping head-on into the other side of this country's reality coin: there seem to be an awful lot of people out there who either think they should be able to legislate their morality for everyone else, or simply don't pay enough attention to really know the truth about an issue or candidate.

See, I can at least understand a person's reason for supporting the McCain-Palin ticket if they're vehemently anti-abortion, for the continuation of the Iraq war, not so sure about climate change, and like what the Republicans, in general, have been up to in Washington for the last 8 years. Even though I'd disagree with them on all of those points, I'd at least get where they were coming from.

It is the so-called "swing voter" and other less far-right folk, who've now stated a preference for the McCain-Palin ticket, that I just don't get. Especially among women! Why? I'll explain by laying out why I, even though a fellow "vagina American" to Palin, will be voting Obama come November 4.
  • Both John McCain and Sarah Palin are strongly pro-life, and support overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • McCain favors making the Bush tax cuts (the ones that overwhelmingly support only the wealthiest Americans) permanent, and reducing the corporate tax rate.
  • Both McCain and Palin are against the legalization of same-sex marriage, and support state constitutional amendments to ban them outright.
  • Palin is pro-capital punishment. McCain is too, and wants to see its use expanded.
  • McCain supported and voted for the new FISA legislation that granted retroactive immunity to telecom companies that were complicit in the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program (to be fair, Obama caved in and did so, too).
  • Palin claims to be a crusader for cutting unecessary government costs, saying over and over that she was against the "Bridge to Nowhere" and such - and she does get credit for a few such actions, but the bridge is not one of them. She campaigned for governor on a pro-bridge platform, and only redirected funds for it after it became clear that it wouldn't be politicly expedient. Furthermore, while she doesn't seem to want the state to pay for much, she's all for the federal government giving them big handouts.
  • Palin backs abstinence-only sex education programs, stating that "explicit sex ed programs will not find my support." McCain has voted to increase funding for abstinence-only programs.
  • McCain supports a Constitutional ban on desecration of the American flag, even though this flies in the face of everything for which it stands.
And it goes on and on. McCain has voted in line with Bush 95% of the time, including on things like voting no on a proposed repeal of tax subsidies for companies that move jobs overseas, and voting to make declaring bancruptcy more difficult for individuals. He also seems to have a rather schizophrenic relationship with environmental issues, having supported certain clean energy initiatives and expansion of protected lands, but now pulling a complete reversal and supporting an end to the moratorium on off-shore drilling, incorrectly claiming that such a move would help relieve prices at the pumps in the near future.

I think it's worth noting that I'm not 100% anti-McCain (Palin I can't say for sure, because there's still so little we actually know about her, her opinions, her experience, and her knowledge--but in general, I don't much care for what I've seen). The man has worked for some good causes and legislation in the past, and, at least until very recently, was generally one of the less noxious Republicans in national office. Back in 2004, he seemed to me to be closer to what Republicans used to be (honest-to-goodness fiscally conservative, socially moderate) and not what they had become/been hijacked into being (fiscally irresponsible, socially extremely conservative). A lot of that has since changed, but even if it hadn't, I'd still like the Obama-Biden ticket better.

Why? Because Barack Obama proposes smart, long-term clean energy solutions and tax incentives for companies working toward them. He encourages civic duty and service. He's pro-choice (and enjoys a 100% positive rating from NARAL), and though personally moderate about same-sex marriages, opposes a federal amendment to ban them. Obama supports comprehensive sex education programs that emphasize both abstinence and good contraceptive access, etc. He wants to set a timetable for a measured, responsible withdrawal from Iraq, and a refocusing of our energies on actually bringing Osama bin Laden and his supporters to justice in Afghanistan. Obama wants to end the tax subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas, as well as cap farm subsidies for Fortune 500 companies. And the list goes on and on.

In light of all that, I don't feel any further need to defend my decision, or to defend against spurious claims that many McCain-Palin supporters are making that any and all attacks or criticisms of the ticket (Palin more specifically) are based only on personal misgivings, sexism, or fear. I don't want McCain or Palin in the White House because I have fundamental disagreements with their political positions on most every level. For Palin in particular, I don't believe she has the general knowledge or wherewithall to hold that high an office. Given a few more years in publc service, I might change my mind. But the fact that she had to be sequestered with campaign foreign policy experts and the like for a week of cramming doesn't bode well for her awareness of the issues facing the world around her. Heck, even I know that Freddie and Fannie are privately held companies.

So can we cut the bullshit? First off, people have every right to disagree with any of the candidates on the issues, and to question whether they would be fit for office, without immediately being accused of sexism, racism, or anything else of the sort. We all deserve a chance to put our feet in our mouths before any such names are called. Secondly, can we please get some real, tough journalism going with all of the candidates? Make them answer questions, and hold them accountable for any truth twisting or outright lying. Make them talk about the big issues that matter, and showcase what, if any, knowledge they have about them. Fuck off with the softballs (I'll be watching you, Gibson), and especially with questions about their families and churches.

That shouldn't be a lot to ask--it should be par for the course in a country that claims to want/have an educated electorate and free, fair elections. Sadly, however, we seem to have arrived at a place where we the citizens need to kick and scream for every scrap of real information and balanced, informative coverage we can get.

And while I'm kicking and screaming, I'll be trying to keep my eyes turned outward and uninsulated in an attempt come to terms with those folks who so vehemently want to tell me what particular moral/religious code by which to live. They can't all be inherently bad people. I simply refuse to believe that. So I'm left at square one: why?


illusory tenant said...

Good stuff. Just for the record, however, Samantha Bee is actually a Vagina-Canadian.

Emily said...

I should have known!

Em Richards said...

Whenever I hear "Vagina-American", this dialogue runs through my head:

Maude: My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. (pause) Vagina.
The Dude: Oh yeah?
Maude: Yes, they don't like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.
The Dude: Johnson?

Great, now I'll have "What Condition My Condition Is In" stuck in my head for the rest of the day...

Emily said...

Em - There are far worse songs (and worse movies) to get stuck in your head. :)

The Dude abides.

Pilot said...

There are quite a few rumors flying concerning Palin. Some appear to be false, others are perhaps somewhat inflated. Fine, I'll let those go. But, really, all I need to know concerning Palin to truly fear her as a potential president can be seen here.

Nothing says bat-shit insane like wailing in tongues, and slick graphics showing the fires of Jesus spreading over the earth (starting in Alaska.)

Emily said...

Pilot - I dunno, if they're oil fires, maybe the image isn't so far-fetched.

I kid! I kid!

Look, if people feel the need to "speak in tongues" and all that pentacostal jazz, so be it. But once that and its associated beliefs start to bleed into politics, then hell yeah I have a problem with it. It remains to be seen where exactly she stands on all of that, but certainly the evidence doesn't bode well.

capper said...

Palin makes rape victims pay for their own rape kits.

Real sweet of her, ain'a?

Nick said...

The abstinence only education one seems to be false as well. She was in favor of teaching condom use in schools.

As for FISA... Obama also voted for the FISA bill which gave retroactive immunity to telecoms.

Emily said...

Nick - You'll note, if you re-read my post, that I already pointed out Obama's vote for FISA (and I've voiced my displeasure with that in the past, too).

As for the abstinence thing, it's good to hear that she's at least in favor of teaching kids about condom use. Still, her "explicit sex ed programs will not find my support" statement concerns me, but it would appear that she's at least less hard-line about the issue than McCain. Still not voting for them.

Dustin Christopher said...

I just had to put my head down and LAUGH at that picture... My. God.

And seriously. What do you mean brought it bowling, Dude? I didn't rent it shoes. I'm not buying it a fucking beer. He's not taking your fucking turn, Dude.

Unknown said...

Without intending to throw support behind either candidate...

Saying that McCain voted with Bush 95% of the time is true in a limited sense. The Obama campaign has also used other figures (like 90%). I believe 95% is only counting his voting record for 2007 or 2008. His matched voting record was lower in 2006 and lower still in 2005. This is just conjecture, but I assume the 90% figure Obama used in his nomination acceptance speech is an average of the last few years.

Secondly, Obama has also said he would support limited off-shore drilling, though I don't know what precisely limited meant.

Just keeping it even.

The Lost Albatross