Saturday, April 5, 2008

Still just a rat in a cage (or, "Why does my comptuer freeze when I Google the candidates?")

I had my computer playing music while I cleaned tonight, playing through all my songs at random. I sat down for my scheduled break of Diet Coke, a single cigarette, and all the Tri Peaks I could fit into that cigarette. (Don't hassle me, I'll quit again when math class is over.)

The line that caught my ear was, "And what do want? I want to change." To me, it sounds like he's singing "I want change." Which suddenly turned this fantastic song from my misspent youth into a political track.

We do want change. But it makes me cringe when I hear people talk about whether they're going to vote for the black guy or the white lady. Even fewer people talk about voting for the white guy, but that's beside the point.

I just got done reading "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell, which was recommend to me by a good friend whose opinions I respect (though I can't say the same of his puns). The author had gone on a few trips to see places and pieces associated with the three assassinated Presidents who were linked (however loosely) to Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln. I've had the Presidents - past, present and future - on my mind all week while tearing through this book. So sitting here at two in the morning with a kitchen and a bathroom yet to be scrubbed, I decided to sit down with you a minute and talk about the election.

Yes, we can make history this year. We can elect a woman for president. It's been stirring for years, this idea of a woman running the country. The speculations about what a woman in the White House would mean have run to each end of the spectrum, from "Finally! Someone in charge who can show some compassion and bring a little ladylike dignity to the White House," to "That's all we need! Women are crazy! Especially post-menopausal women!"

We could also make history with the election of a black man. We are two hours past the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and this weighs heavily on the minds of voters as well. The speculation here is also far-flung from one end ("A man who knows what it's like to be a working man!") to the other ("He's gonna ruin it! I don't want a damn [n-bomb] in the White House! He'll be up there listening to his damn rap, poppin' a cap in a ho and then where will we be?"). I won't even discuss the whole "He's going to turn us into Muslims!" theory, which is beyond absurd for many, many reasons.

Nobody talks about the issues. Nobody talks about what kind of change Obama would bring. Nobody talks about what Hillary's experience can do for this country. Nobody I know even talks about McCain, but that's groupthink at its finest.

Have the politics in America become so redundant and insipid that they no longer factor into the politics of America? Have we become so jaded, so ready and willing to accept failure as our leader, that we can't be bothered with issues?

Well, yes, they have. We have.

All I hear about the candidates lately is that they're trying to woo Super Delegates. They don't care about us, they don't know you or I. None of them. And the way things are going, they never will. I'm furious about my useless vote, irate that nothing I do will matter and these rich, privileged, snot-nosed jerks are going to be in charge of my life - my money, my privacy, my body - for the rest of my irate years. I'm irritated that people only want to vote for a gender or a race, and not a qualified leader.

I guess that's why this old song hits home so hard for me. There's nothing I can do. I want change. But, despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.

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