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probably the last time I will ever talk politics

probably the last time I will ever talk politics

November 8, 2006

I have made a personal decision not to blog about politics. Not because I am not interested, I am. Not because I don’t have ideas or concerns, I do. But because I don’t see everything as black and white. I see things in color, bright vivid colors that swirl around over my head. And sometimes I can see more than one color of an issue, I can see many. And I can’t reconcile that in my writing, so I don’t even try.

This year I felt like the election Grinch. I wasn’t excited to rock my vote. (Though truth be told, I have never been the age demographic for rocking my vote even back at it’s inception)

I went to the polls to vote against people. I voted not because I was excited about a candidate and thie ideas and platform, but becaue the other candidate scared the hell out of me. Is this just because I have gotten older and more jaded? I don’t think so. Something has changed.

The first election I remember voting in was the presidential election in 1992. The energy and excitement were palapable. I remember when Clinton won being excited and feeling as though we were entering a new era. I remember sitting and watching the results come in on television and talking on the phone with friends who were equally excited.

Do you remember the debates that year? Do you remember Ross Perot?

Two years ago and again yesterday I felt myself thinking, “Where is Ross Perot when you need him?”

And by this I don’t literally mean Ross Perot. I mean a person who would stand for what he did during that election. A peson who got people excited. A person who got people talking about politics again. A person who makes you believe, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that a regular person can make a difference, that our government is still elected by the people, for the people. Even though I thought he was nuttier than a fruitcake, I appreciate the life he brought to the campaign that year.

Now I feel like I stand here alone in a vast wasteland. I look to my right and think, “Who are you people?”

And I look to my left and think, “And who are you people?”

And I stand here in the vast divide, listening to the rhetoric being thrown back and forth. I keep hearing that this election is a referendum on Iraq. That voters are turning out to send a message about Iraq. As one of those voters, I feel insulted. I am not merely voting for or against Iraq. There are so many other issues.

I know that there must be others like me standing in this wasteland. It’s just that the divide has become so large and empty that we can’t see each other. Perhaps I should just start calling “Marco” and waiting to hear an answer.

Posted by Chris @ 9:03 am  

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Comments

  1. shirley valentine says:

    POLO!

  2. Jill A. says:

    Polo………waving at you from another part of this wasteland……..

    I know how you feel. I feel the same. I’m depressed thinking about the next presidential election — I have no hope. Where did it go?

  3. Nicki says:

    POLO?? It is reassuring to know I’m not the only one. I feel stuck in the wasteland between my beliefs. Jill, if you find the hope, tell me where you found it!!

  4. Estelle says:

    I’m an Eisenhower baby. So from someone who lived through Kennedy and Nixon and Reagan and then Clinton and now Bush, I’ve got to say that hope will come around again. It’s an ever changing scene, often scary and upsetting for four or eight years at a time! but the whole darned thing rolls along and we roll with it however odd the choice of leaders seems at the time.

  5. Stephanie says:

    POLO!!!

  6. Meg's Mom says:

    Polo, too! Where are the statesmen!!?? Although I have to admit that my definition of statesman is someone who doesn’t pay any attention to what the polls say but instead does what s/he thinks is best for the country based upon the knowledge that s/he has and which can’t be shared (for security reasons which I believe in)with the voting public. I was shocked to discover that possibly that description fits Dubya! We’ll have to wait and see what the historians come up with. Jimmy Carter looks much better in retrospect than he did at the time . . . .

  7. (other) chris says:

    “the other candidate scared the hell out of me.” me too! in race after race! and POLO too. it’s not much to get the kids even remotely interested in what’s going on, either.

  8. Jana says:

    Chris,

    Try to get a copy of Barack O’Bama’s key note speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention—he’s the closest thing we have to a Robert Kennedy or Martin Luther King. He has a chance for greatness if all the political parasites stay out of his way!

  9. Kim in MI says:

    POLO!
    I know what you mean. I hate the fact, too, that everything is divided into two sides that just bicker at each other. There was a Michigan candidate who was well spoken and had some good ideas and really sounded promising. Only he wasn’t in a mainstream party. And I couldn’t afford to throw away my “vote against” vote. How does a nation come back from a system that has become a two-sided caricature?

  10. Theunperfectmother says:

    POLO POLO POLO!

  11. Heather says:

    POLO!!!!!! I am SOOOO glad it’s the day AFTER the elections now - although now we’ll all “pay” for our choices one way or another… I’m not jaded or anything.

  12. Chris #3 says:

    I agree with Estelle about being patient. I too am from the Eisenhower era. It will right itself, you have to believe. I also agree with Jana, about Obama. I’m from Chicago and have heard him speak. He is awesome. We don’t know if he’ll be running yet, but I believe.

  13. Ani says:

    POLO…I’m surrounded by a wasteland of “I vote what my preacher tells me to”

    Ugh. No brain cells in danger of overuse around here.

  14. Susan says:

    I am right there with you.

    I remember turning 18 my senior year of high school (’86) and practically RUNNING down to register to vote. I could not wait. I voted faithfully in every election for about 10 years following that.

    Yes, I do remember, and I loved the debates that year. And I felt the same way you did — anticipating great things.

    I didn’t even bother voting yesterday. I have gotten to the point where pretty much all the candidates make me sick and I just can’t even fathom having to vote FOR one.

    It’s very disheartening.

  15. Amah says:

    We really don’t have much to worry about for the next 2 years. The voices in Washington will be all about a bunch of mud-slinging and blame. Unfortunately thoughout the WEEKS of non-stop ads - I didn’t hear (not even once) what a politician planned to DO about anything. Just what EVERYONE else did wrong. And I got SO SICK of them I started watching dvd’s.

    I just wish we’d have a government of AMERICANS that would have the best interests of the WHOLE country at heart. End of my soapbox. Sorry

  16. Darren McLikeshimself says:

    God, I hear you. Voting has become the Christmas of civic duties. What was once fun and exciting is just depressing and annoying.

  17. Bryanne Mayhew says:

    POLO!

  18. Chele says:

    Polo! This is the first time since I turned 18 that I didn’t vote. Neither of the ridiculously polarized sides represents my interests, or those of anybody I know. I can’t believe the outrageous venom on both sides. Where is the middle ground, and someone who will stand for it? Sadly lacking, and probably unelectable for want of adequate campaign financing… I do believe I have finally slipped over the line into Cynicsville.

  19. bluepaintred says:

    wahhhhhhhhhhh I want to say polo beacuse I know what you mean. But I cant comment on the US elections, I’m Canadian. I will say that voting for our PM I was dissapointed that I had to vote for the least of the evils and not someone whom I was looking forward to seeing in office.

    However, there is hope, in a small way. We recently had mayoral elections and there were three candidates. I finally got to vote, really vote to try and put someone who shared my values on blah blah blah. I was disapointed when he did not win, but hey, I voted, and thats all you can do, eh?

  20. judi casey says:

    i think so very many people voted out of frustration with the current administration. that is an important statement in its own right, but the democrats do need to spread a vision. barak obama may be the one to do it- he has tremendous potential.
    all in all, i am just thrilled that the checks and balances system our forefathers devised, is back in play.
    on a personal note- very happy hubbie’s cousin, bob casey, won so dramatically!

  21. Sara says:

    Yeah, count me solidly in the vast divide. I can hear the “polos” echoing around me. I voted yesterday, but not with any enthusiasm about my choices. I had a hard time explaining to my children who came with me just why I was voting, other than telling them it was my civic duty, because, really, there was no candidate that got me excited in a good way. On a related note, if I hear one more politician say that they “pay no attention” to polls, someone may have to clean up the tiny shards of my exploded noggin!!

  22. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    Estelle says:
    I agree with Estelle in that it’s an ever-changing scene and we are forced to roll with whoever is the head of our nation. But we’re still part of the best country in the world. I so wish Bobby Kennedy had a chance—I think he would have made a big difference in our place in the world today.

  23. Novaks8 says:

    My biggest concern is that the troops be treated well.
    It is easy to say you are against Iraq and the administration but the politicians be they Red or Blue have a duty to the men and women over there.

    Obama is a bright light but oh how I fear for his safety. His wife is less than thrilled with the prospect of his being president one day.

    It is a cycle….as our forefathers intended it to be.

  24. Playdate Susan says:

    Yes. And yes. And hell yes.

    Polo.

  25. Jennifer says:

    That was so well written! I totally agree with everything you said. I am so much in the middle and I feel like no one in Washington represents me right now. This was one of your best posts. One of THE best posts, period. Thanks!

  26. Nohe 5 says:

    You said exactly what I was feeling.

  27. Keith says:

    I so dislike politics and the lack of seemingly ‘real people’ running, that I’m giving serious consideration to trying to run for something myself. City council, state senator or hell, mayor of Baltimore. Who knows. Just to go in there and fix things that seems broken. We shall see.

  28. Lawanda says:

    I loved Ross Perot. Thinking of him does make me miss honesty. And isnt that SAD?

  29. Tonja says:

    Ani,
    I sure hope that statement is NOT true.
    My father is a “preacher” and that is SO illegal for a minister to share his opinions!

    Although I live in a small town and I had an older gentleman working at the poll “helping” me along yesterday. We had to vote on 3 judges and I didn’t know a thing about any of them. He told me that the first was ok. A big NO NO but again, it’s small town politics here.

    Can’t say I’m happy about the results, I guess some things I can overlook but the possible legalization of abortion at ANY stage in pregancy just FLOORS me!

  30. JayAre says:

    Kinky Friedman! (I have no idea if I spelled that right.) His highly entertaining campaign for governor of Texas got me interested more than I had been since Ross Perot. It’s a shame the interesting people never win.

  31. sandra says:

    What Ross Perot had that so many other otherwise-worthy candidates don’t have is billions of dollars. So it goes.

    The smarminess on both sides is revolting. I run in pretty liberal circles and I sometimes I can’t believe the degree to which they take for granted that everyone agrees with them. Just look at who’s in office, folks — they DON’T. Can we try to listen to one another? Can we compromise?

    I so understand your feeling insulted. Mary Cheney said it best, I think, when defending her support for her Dad while his party was presented as unsupportive of her lifestyle: “I can’t afford to be a single-issue voter.” None of us can.

    Methinks it’s time to put the word “united” back in “United States.”

  32. Jen says:

    POLO !

    There are many others that feel the same, yet it is very comforting to see that so many of us still cast a vote - waiting for the change to come around as Estelle put it. The change in the House and possibly the Senate is proof of that cyclical change.

    I agree with the others - Obama is one that I feel will be riding the wave of change.

  33. Suburban Turmoil says:

    Polo.

    Well said.

  34. InterstellarLass says:

    We had Kinky Friedman in Texas. Down here, 61% of Texans voted against the guy who is now (still) our govenor.

    Politicians are no longer ‘for the people’. It’s time to bring back the Statesman (or woman).

  35. Polly says:

    This is exactly WHY I am a libertarian. When I was 19 I went to a Young Republicans meeting. I felt like I was in natzi Germany. They told us to vote GOP NO MATTER WHAT. Now, my thinking IS more in line with the GOP than the Dems, but I didn’t like being told what to do and how to think. I went home to tell my father what they said. He told me to always vote what I thought was right. When I married my husband, he is a free thinker and a Libertarian. I finally felt like I had a place for my political beliefs. I am not TOTALLY in agreement with the Libs, but overall, they are the party for me. I just wish others would give them a chance. I think it’s time for a 3rd party in this country.
    Polly

  36. Bettsi says:

    I pretend to be a cynic, but find myself glued to the election results every time we vote! Every vote IS a voice and sends a message. I think if we keep talking, we will find our way. I fondly remember the 92 elections also. What a blast! Now THAT was a lot of talking! For me, the 2000 election soured a lot of my thinking about politics. Where would we be today if things had gone differently?

  37. jodi says:

    I don’t think that this was a referendum on Iraq at all. I found our senator kind of creepy and I liked that the other candidate had a lot less foot in mouth disease and didn’t have to carry a football around with him to relate to the crowd. We are still waiting for the results and it’s kind of exciting to know that in this race a small amount of votes do make a difference. I have not felt this way in quite awhile.

  38. Mary W says:

    In deed - we are not the Unitesd Red states or the United blue states but the UNITED states. Neither side said anything about what they’d DO but that whatever the other side was wrong.

    In Texas we did have a choice.rather than breaking the mold we gut stuck in the same old rut we are in.

    Plus, how could we have gone wrog with a guy named “Kinky”

  39. liz says:

    Polo!

    But we actually had someone in our Congressional race I was voting FOR. Judy Feder. Alas, she lost. But there it is.

  40. Melessa says:

    POLO! And I’m ashamed to admit I voted for Ross Perot in 1992. But the fervor and enthusiasm he brought out in me and my then-boyfriend in supporting him was amazing and something I’m likely never to recapture.

  41. maureen says:

    POLO! I voted…because it was the responsible thing to do…because I always vote…but like you, I only voted against people and not for anyone and that left me feeling strangely sad and a little defeated. I guess in reading the comments I have a little bit of hope that maybe chabe for the better. Its just hard to imagine a politician today with any integrity!

  42. daring one says:

    When the polling people called to ask what the major issue was I wanted to hear more about, I said “Education” and they acted shocked. What? Did you want me to say Iraq? Because I think it would be impossible for the media to say more about Iraq than they already are. It is a huge issue but definitly not the only issue and honestly we don’t have a clue what’s going on over there, not the people in office, not the people running for office and all of the issues are so complex and no one’s really addressing any of them. I’m getting flyers with people’s kid coloring on them. Look I have a kid - Vote for me. Well woopty-freakin’ doo. Your kid can color though. I guess I’ll vote for you. It’s like a political vortex. I voted yesterday but I felt the same way, lesser of two evils. Where are the great women and men? Where are the people who actually care and have an un-polled, un-advised stance on anything?

  43. Heather says:

    Polo!Polo!Polo! (waving hand frantically!) I am with you more than you will ever know. Very well said, Chris.

  44. Roxanne says:

    I did vote this time around, and I’m fairly happy with the results. I don’t think it’s good for our country to be run by only one political party. I’m glad that there should be a balance for at least the next two years, and I can only hope that the broken parts of our country can be fixed. As the old saying goes, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Nowhere was this more obvious to me than when Foley’s transgressions against teenage boys came out, and we learned that the House leadership was more interested in protecting their power than protecting children. Of course, there are other issues involved, too, but all in all, the system worked the way it was supposed to (this time around, at least).

    Chris, I can certainly relate to you, because as a military member, I’m surrounded by people who don’t really pay attention to the issues. They just vote the way they have been told military members are supposed to vote. It’s sad, because that isn’t always in their best interest, but they just don’t see it.

    At least this election is pretty much over, and we’ll see where our country goes from here. Thank you for the great post, Chris!

  45. my float says:

    Great post. I am on the other side of the world watching what’s going on in your land and OMG, I just don’t get it. Where is everyone?! It’s sad when we vote against the people we don’t want when there’s no one to vote FOR.

  46. Melissa says:

    I also voted for the first time in 1992 and can remember the pulsing energy during the campaigns and then finally election night. It was an exciting and promising and hopeful time….and I think it had very little do with being 19. Now I feel myself drifting dangerously towards apathy. “Lesser of two evils” should not be the reason I am casting my vote…….

  47. Allanna says:

    Polo. SO Polo.

    With this election I voted SOLELY because it was my duty. And, with how the results were in my state, I almost feel like I shouldn’t have even bothered.
    I’m ready to move. Australia sounds like it might be cool.

  48. Norma says:

    Wahhh, I don’t know what POLO means! Can somebody help me?

  49. Karen Rani says:

    I’d love to say Thank Goodness I live in Canada, but I vote the same way you do. Against the worst candidate, which really, is pretty subjective. At least though, we live in free countries that allow us to vote.

  50. Kat says:

    Allana, we have compulsory voting over here so our pollies have to work a little harder to convince us they’re suitable for the job. But you know, we get disillusioned like everyone else. I do like to think that we manage to keep a lot of the grassroots issues in focus even while we’re looking at the broader national/international concerns. I’m actually excited about the next elections because they’re going to be a little bit more unpredictable, which means candidates have to work extra hard to give us what we want (or at least say they’ll try).

  51. JO says:

    Our “leadership” was out of control and scary and had to be reined in. I agree Obama is a very bright light but I also worry about his safety

  52. Jennifer says:

    I turned 18 years old in 1996 and voted for the first time that year. My first vote went to Clinton, who won. It was about as close as the democratic process can get to exhilarating. It’s been pretty much downhill since then. Like you said, it’s all about voting against people, rather than for them. It’s all about trash-talking, mud-slinging campaigns. Ads are based on accusations of racism, sexism, cronyism and not platforms, issues or ideas for reform.
    That said, I don’t blog about politics either, not even Italian politics (although there is a wealth of great material there!). It’s too depressing and complicated and exasperating.
    But, I’ll say it anyway, Polo.

  53. Stephanie says:

    Two words. Barack Obama. I am in love with the man…he is a politician who “gets it”. I have just started reading his book The Audacity of Hope and I keep wanting to yell out, yes! *This* is what we need! A man who is comfortable with what he believes but believes in working with other people, not just cramming his ideas down their throats and trying to “win”.

    I have blogged a bit about him from time to time:

    http://throwingmarshmallows.homeschooljournal.net/2006/09/27/191/

  54. Theresa says:

    Coming out of lurkdom to say “POLO!” You hit the nail on the head. I remember when I thought my vote meant something-boy, was that exciting and empowering! Those days are gone and now it is just depressing.
    I deliberately avoid politics on my blog, too, for the very reasons you state. It’s just so not simple. Plus, it just isn’t worth putting up with all the misunderstandings later in the comments because I didn’t explain myself just right.

  55. Jamie says:

    I can definitely relate to all you are saying. When I was standing in line to vote Tuesday the woman behind me and I were talking about how cynical we are about it all, but at least we were voting. She said she felt like she was choosing between the “devil and the deep blue sea.” It’s frustrating.

    I’d almost FORGOTTEN about Ross Perot! Thanks for that amusing flashback. :)

  56. wendy says:

    POLO!!!!

  57. Qalballah says:

    I don’t know the the POLO thing, but I think all politics is futile. All politicians care about is themselves and lining up their future lives as millionaires after elected life. The problems with this kind of democracy is that in a nation as big as the USA you will only ever vote for large issues since they need broad strokes to solidify a diverse electorate. Maybe politics at the local level is more your cup of tea if you want to see real change?

    But I tell you something as someone who knows nothing about American politics - you guys sure seem to vote a LOT … all the TIME.

  58. Sophie says:

    You have put into words exactly how I feel about voting, politics, the current political situation, and blogging about it all. Thank you! This is an awesome post.

  59. MoMMY says:

    POLO!

  60. Ani says:

    To those who missed out on the Marco/Polo thing. It’s a kid’s game, we used to play it in the pool. One child closes his/her eyes and yells out “Marco” and the others yell “Polo”. The child with the eyes closed has to find and touch the other kids. Only by sound. So…Marco…Polo. Where are my friends?

    And as to the preacher thing…illegal, maybe. Real, absolutely. We had signs outside churches with things like Vote to Support Marriage, Vote YES on Ammendment X. Etc etc etc. And let us not forget our bishop who in the last election wrote a letter to all parishioners stating that “he retained the right to deny Communion to politicians who do not support the tenets of their faith” Because, obviously, someone made HIM god of all.

    Sheesh. Can’t wait to get out of grad school and move elsewhere! Obama is in IL right? :-)

  61. Ani says:

    Oops I meant Marco/Polo = “Where are my friends?”

  62. Danielle says:

    Polo!!! I’m a die hard democrat but I don’t feel that people voted for the dems but just for the not the other guys. I just hope that they take this time to say that we all need to work together and not fall into the same thing that the repubs were doing.

    I’m hoping this change will be for the better that can help heal this country. Regardless of the politics.

  63. Jamie E says:

    I didn’t blog about politics or voting…I did vote. NOT about Iraq…Why is it that I keep hearing the reason people voted was about Iraq? Like somehow if you voted Elephant you prefer war and if you voted Donkey you want the troops to come home tomorrow?

  64. Jaybird says:

    POLO!

    Just scrolling through and seeing the other 64 comments and all the other POLOs has given me HOPE. Hope that one day soon, the mothers of the nation will show that the middle of the pool is where the best water is.

    Thank you.

  65. Marianne says:

    Great post! It’s hard to feel this way - not quite apethetic, but like any choice is a bad one (e.g. IL attorney general). I hope when people stand up and say things like “lesser of two evils” or “there isn’t a good choice” that our leaders look at that and realize something has got to change.

    Oh - JANA - Barack Obama’s DNC address is in the back of his first book. I totally cried my eyes out when I heard that. And I found it on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwNdM_GLidE) Sorry if someone else already posted it. I too have great hope for Barak Obama. If you get a chance to see him in person … wow.

  66. eko says:

    POLO!!! -

    “Now I feel like I stand here alone in a vast wasteland. I look to my right and think, “Who are you people?”

    And I look to my left and think, “And who are you people?”

    I so agree with you with regards to this statement and what you write about Iraq. What kills me is people calling FOX news biased (which I do NOT watch/listen to) but then on election day NPR was practically having orgasms on-air. Bias is on BOTH sides, and the hate filled rhetoric and HEARING people say they HATE someone (politician or a people that votes for something/someone) is abhorrent to me.

    I don’t want to leave America to escape (just) politics, but the ugly people we have become (and I include myself in that, as I know I carry some anger within).

    Thank you - ever so much, for your ongoing magnificent writing and an outlook on life that puts things in perspective, makes us think, and calls things as they ARE!

  67. eko says:

    Oh, and I meant to share - that I didn’t vote along a party line - but the REAL issues. I also support getting politicians the hell out of Washington after a few terms served. WTH is up with Kennedy (MA) and Young (AK), Byrd (WV) - among just a few who have made being in office a life term? We have allowed this! So, I was glad to vote some people out and to bring in fresh thought (one can hope)…