Monday, February 4, 2008

on politics, hatred, and what to do about it all

Hillary ain't perfect, but show me someone who is. The s%$t that woman's been taking is absurd. I point you to this better-late-than-never Times piece by Mr. Fish.

Somewhere along the way Hillary's become vilified because she isn't likable. Gore and Kerry suffered similar smears on their character. Obama, luckily, seems impervious to that. He's too charming. But choosing a party candidate on likability is, to put it mildly, historically detrimental.

We do not always make the right decisions. It is those who learn from their mistakes, who do not stick to their guns when those guns threaten to go off in their laps, that make great presidents. In the past people have called it flip-flopping. If adaptation and self-improvement are flip-flopping, then I consider that the most important trait in a leader.

We cannot elect a leader who cares more for their image than for the issues. We cannot elect a leader who cares more about impressing their party than serving their constituents. We cannot elect a leader who is not willing to say, "I was wrong." A leader must not harden his heart, must not turn a deaf ear to what the people are saying. A leader must proceed with the facts at hand provided by experts free of an agenda, free of corporate or religious bias. A leader must not leap into war, and a leader must not shuffle into peace. A leader must not ignore the health of its people or its land. A leader must see surrounding nations as brothers always and keep them as he would family. A leader must see internal crisis and put all else on hold to go and assist and govern, for if a leader's people die needlessly, (s)he has failed them. A leader owes the people of a nation no more or less than loyalty. A leader is a servant, a carpenter, a diplomat, and a forger of better days.

Division, destruction, denigration, war, murder, action without forethought -- these are not platforms to run a campaign on. Improved borders -- a Band-Aid on the proverbial heart attack. Iraq -- licking the flag pole. The flag pole didn't ask to be licked, and now we're stuck, and we're the ones hurt the most.

I would be a terrible leader, but I know a good leader surrounds himself not with friends, but with people who are smarter than he is. I know a good leader is not carried away by media attention and the potential for great power. I know a good leader exists, and I know Obama and Clinton both have what it takes to stem America's decline.

We are young, and we are imperfect. We know what we can do to help save the environment and to improve health care. We know that the tears between us and the rest of the world can be mended. They have not lasted forever and there is no need for them to continue on ad infinitum. Whatever divinity you believe in, or whatever science, there are no monsters on this planet -- merely, men who put their humanity first, and men who have let a dream or a feud or the constructs of borders and history kill the blood ties we all share.

Tomorrow, when voting, I do not ask you to be a misty-eyed optimist, as I'm sure many could accuse me of being. I ask you to be an anthropologist and a sociologist, to understand that the way things are is not how they must be, and that every time we succumb to mob mentality, every time we start naming "others" and forming cliques, baring our teeth, and hording our rations, we turn back into the animals we supposedly evolved from.
It's the 21st century. We cannot afford to revert to claws and fangs any longer. We only have each other and this one unhappy planet. We owe it to ourselves, to each other, and to whatever path of events that led to us becoming the only known sentient creatures in existence, to not f*^k it up.
So don't.
Vote pro-future. Vote Democrat. Hillary or Barack, I don't care, just choose them for what they'll do, not whose eyes you think are less crazy.
Good night, and good luck.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen