Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Since launching this site, I have routinely posted "Political Party Statements" that satirize campaign rhetoric. The Presidential Race did not inspire these posts, and I will continue writing them for the foreseeable future. I will continue tagging them "Political Parties," but I will leave off the "Election 2008" label. Political rhetoric will long outlive this election. It will always be the same, and it will always be funny--if not tragic.

Today I will be following the election results. This is a historic moment. I have always studied history, and I have a sense for historic moments. A while back I wrote a piece about why Barack Obama's candidacy has been so revoutionary in a country that once thrived on slavery. If he wins, Obama will face many dangers in a country that has long practiced racial intolerance through violence. Only history will show where this path will lead.

Yesterday, I watched a John McCain rally on television. Obviously he was only speaking to his supporters; they were all wearing red and chanting the letters "U S A" every time he said something about Alaska oil drilling, winning the Iraq war or lowering taxes. And of course they were waving homemade placards. I have always found homemade political placards interesting, because they provide a direct view into an individual's conscience. Most often, that direct view reveals an exceedingly simple heart, such as "We Love You, John!" or "Go Home, Barack." That is refreshing, because in everyday discourse it can be difficult to get a sense for a person's political leanings. I have always found it bizarre that the First Amendment most keenly promotes political expression, yet Americans jealously guard their political beliefs when in mixed company, as if they were ashamed of them. Anyone who has worked in an office knows the old adage: "Don't talk about politics or religion." Yet in a democracy we are supposed to talk about politics.

But sometimes political placards raise more subtle issues. For example, yesterday a woman held up a placard that read: "McCain Palin - Integrity-Wisdom-Experience." I have no doubt that those three adjectives apply to John McCain. John McCain is an honorable man. He is 72 years old, which by any stretch gives him at least a modicum of wisdom and experience. I respect John McCain, even if I did not vote for him. John McCain certifiably served his country in ways Barack Obama never did. He bore arms for the United States and suffered brutal incarceration as a consequence. Since then, he has dedicated his life to public service in Congress. While I may not agree with John McCain on numerous political issues, I cannot deny that he has served his country with distinction for many years. And he has made profound sacrifices in that service. I do not criticize John McCain "as a man." I simply disagree with his ideas and the party for which he stands. Yet my intellectual disagreement does not translate into personal hatred. Why should it? There is much to admire in John McCain from a personal perspective.

Sarah Palin, by contrast, poses a different question. It is intensely debatable whether she has "integrity," no matter what an "independent counsel" says about why she fired an Alaska State Trooper with personal ties to her family. And it would be almost facetious to say that Palin has "wisdom" or "experience." Palin is 44 years old. She was Mayor of a small Alaska town for six years, then Alaska Governor for less than two. These are not towering credentials. She is nowhere near John McCain's record. True, Barack Obama is only 46 years old and has only been a United States Senator for three years. But Obama has at least been a member of America's most august political association, not merely governor of a backwater State. Despite his youth, Obama seems more "experienced" at 46 than Palin does at 44. Obama has experience negotiating federal legislation in the United States Senate; Palin has experience as a "soccer mom" directing local game reclamation projects in Eskimo country.

It is easy to mock Sarah Palin, and I will now make no further attacks. Today the voters will show whether she deserves to be in the White House. Who knows? Perhaps today America will prove me a sneering elitist. Indeed, I will never doubt the stupidity of the American voter. That stupidity that will make this election interesting; and it is precisely that stupidity that supplies me with endless writing material. I am thankful for that.

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