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.