Monday, November 3, 2008

tomorrow is the judgment day

I'm going to do my best to restrain myself and not post tomorrow until we know who's won this thing. Unless, that is, there's some sort of disaster or huge controversy, which I'm sorry to say seems quite possible. Here's my dilemma: do I watch the election night coverage at sober and boring PBS, or do I watch it, in the spirit of schadenfreude, at FOX News? Lot's of risk/reward there-- if Barack wins, it will be incredibly fun to watch Brit Hume et al. squirm and complain. But if McCain should pull it out, it would be particularly spirit-crushing. Of course, I fully expect FOX to lie about what their exit polling is saying and call states for McCain when he hasn't won them. Should be interesting, in any event.

I hope you vote tomorrow. Many have written about the folly of voting negatively, and indeed I will vote for Obama, less than against McCain and Republicanism. But understand: I've never been one to say that people can't change. When people say "people don't change," I tend to think it's usually done because it gives the person saying it power over another. I do think, though, that people-- and institutions-- don't change unless the are given good reason to. Political parties won't generate real positive internal change on their own. Inertia alone is enough to keep any party more or less static, and a traditionalist party... forget about it. So if you believe the GOP needs to change, regardless of the direction in which you would like that change to occur, you must punish them for what you see as their failures. For some of us that means a vote for Obama. For some it might come in a congressional election. Others might not vote at all and deny the GOP their support. Others might vote a straight Republican ticket, but work from within for change. One way or another, though, those of us who want the Republican party-- and perhaps conservatism-- to change must do something to effect that change. You can't sit back and wait for the evolution to happen.

The protest kids used to mock me for my interest in partisan politics. They felt that the political parties didn't represent real alternatives. I've maintained a bit of that guilt even as I've gone from deep involvement in the antiwar movement to scant. Certainly, in the field of foreign policy, there is hardly any alternative from militarism and expansionist aggression. I often feel desperately lonely, actually, when I consider just how out of line with my policy preferences the Democratic party is.

But we all face a choice, and we all face the responsibility of knowing that not choosing is a kind of choosing. I won't pretend that this is a true binary, either. I have other options. I will pull the lever tomorrow for Barack, though, because I believe he might be the best President I can reasonably hope for. Some have offered disappointment in me, this last month, as I've been more taken with enthusiasm for Barack and Democratic ticket than they would imagine. All I can say is that I am trying to walk the razors edge between hope and cynicism, and I am trying to make the best choice for myself and for my country. My earnestness is certainly a failing, but my concern for the project of making myself and my country, I think, is not. This choice our country faces, this existential choice-- I will confront it as best I can, and I will have the courage to be human in making that choice, though everywhere around me there are things tempting me to be otherwise. If you can forgive my pretension, surely you can forgive my earnestness.

I'll see you on the other side of this thing. Let's see what's next for our country.


Anonymous said...

Unless, that is, there's some sort of disaster or huge controversy, which I'm sorry to say seems quite possible.

You've got to be kidding me. If you're thinking nefarious, you've got to be kidding me. If you're thinking bad luck, you're just being a Cubs fan. -K.

Freddie said...

I'm thinking Gore v. Bush, whatever you'd like to call that. I'm particularly worried about an electoral college/popular vote split.

Anonymous said...

No way. Obama in a walk. 300+, no prob. -K.

Matoko said...

Freddie, Nate has The Probability of a McCain win at 1.9 %.

So here is a thought experiment for you to amuse yourself with.....I have always seen Palin as the fracture point of the conservative movement, the instantiation of the true war for the conservative soul, the battle between theocracy and democracy, the socons versus the libertarians and classic liberals.
One of my favorite thought experiments is "what would Machiavelli do?"
Taking one part Kevin Drum and one part John Heilemann to construct a post election political landscape, I think the optimum strategy for the GOP would be to run Palin 2012.
She is sure to lose, simply because of population demographics and the cultural reshape we will go through as a result of having a black president. She is too damaged as a candidate to have any use except as cannon fodder in the culture wars. But a 2012 run would stoke the fires of resentment, might recover some congressional seats (she is a demagogue after all), and could be used to bank and channel socon rage for 2016, when the GOP might run a candidate like Jindal with an actual chance of capturing a bigger slice of the increasingly multiracial electoral pie. What do you think?

I enjoy your skull furniture so much, Freddie.
Gratitude for writing.

Anonymous said...

told you so. -K.

Freddie said...

You were right!

Anonymous said...

So did you watch Fox News? Prepared to eat your disparaging words? Hume was positively giddy.