Of Two Minds

It’s the mother of all ambivalence.

On the one hand, I readily admit, it’s really cool that we elected someone who is not an old white guy, or even a young white guy, to be president. Not that I have an innate problem with white guys, being one myself. But given all the racism that still pervades my country today, both overt and otherwise, I never would have thought I’d live to see this day, and I’m proud of my country that it proved me wrong. Seriously, up until Tuesday night, I really didn’t think it was possible, and I really am happy that it happened in my lifetime.

I think Tom Toles, the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post, put it best, simply and eloquently:

The above is, of course, copyrighted material, but I think this constitutes fair use.

Furthermore, it was really, really awesome to see people celebrating the president-elect – black, white, straight, gay (my neighborhood tends to be pretty fabulous, as is my local; good thing I’m not homophobic – which his apparently more than we can say for a slim majority of California’s electorate). People excited and happy about the results of an election – that’s a pretty historic event as well. Not a first for America, but certainly never in my lifetime have we seen people carrying on in the streets in giddy happiness over presidential [tag]election[/tag] results.

Cool, that; very cool.

I’ll further admit, that despite my misgivings, despite the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either mainstream candidate, I’m relieved that [tag]Obama[/tag] won. I might have considered voting for [tag]McCain[/tag] back in 2000, but he’s pretty much sold out everything he ever stood for. In a way, I feel bad for him; he obviously went for broke to win the election. Case in point: hiring Dubya’s campaign director from 2004, Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protégé.

Old news, at this point, but it still astonishes me that he hired one of the despicable people that smeared him in the run-up to the Republican nomination four years ago, dredging up his wife’s drug addiction and spreading rumors that his adopted daughter from Bangladesh is actually his illegitimate daughter. In retrospect, it’s very hard to believe that the same McCain who delivered the eloquent and statesman-like concession speech Tuesday evening is the same one who would stoop to hiring Schmidt. We’ll put that little tidbit on top of the huge pile of reasons why a majority of Americans are glad he didn’t win.

Hell, I’m just glad we elected someone with more than half a brain, for once, unlike lame-duck Dubya (God, that really feels good to say)

On the other hand, as I found myself explaining more than once Tuesday night, after going out to the aforementioned local to observe the revelry, FISA was a deal-breaker for me. So was the bailout. And Obama voted for FISA, and encouraged the bailout. I might have been able to overlook the bailout, perhaps, but FISA? No way. I’m an American, dammit, and I’m pretty libertarian on this issue: civil rights are sacred. As far as I’m concerned, everyone that voted for FISA pretty much wiped their ass with the parchment the Bill of Rights – namely the Fourth Amendment – was printed on.

I’ll give Obama props; he acknowledged the fact that this would be a deal-breaker for some.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That’s ok.  But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have.

Well, it was for me. Some people I had this conversation with Tuesday were aghast that I didn’t vote for Obama, even after acknowledging that his FISA cave-in was all but in-excusable (for them). Others said they totally understood why I voted for [tag]Cynthia McKinney[/tag], and respected that decision, which was cool. Then there was the dolt who suggested I was racist because I didn’t vote for Obama, until I explained that no, I voted for McKinney, not McCain, and that McKinney is a black woman and her running mate is a Latina (I’m assuming that Rosa Clemente is of Hispanic background, but I don’t really know for sure, and to be honest don’t care; I thinks she’s pretty rad and her genetics are immaterial). Lawlz, that shut him up in short order.

I realize that in a democracy everyone has to compromise. But some issues are black and white (no pun intended), and at some point you have to draw a line in the sand and say, no more. With our [tag]civil liberties[/tag] on a toilet-bound vector since 9/11, I drew that line at [tag]FISA[/tag]. I hope that all those who believe that trend will reverse under an Obama administration are right. But he’s a career politician, who does what is necessary to get power and then stay in power – how else did he raise record amounts of financing? What’s going to happen when all those special interests come knocking at the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

Will he be different? I have my doubts. Sure, he talks a good talk, but I trust politicians as far as I can throw them; Obama’s pretty slim, so I could throw him farther than most, maybe. But still, he’s a politician – on the take until he proves otherwise.

But again, having said that, and in spite of my abivalence, I’m glad he won. It’s not everyday you get to witness history, and it’s not everyday when your own culture and country suprises you in such a wonderful way. And it wasn’t like I thought McKinney had a chance, even as cast my vote for her. I honestly think she would have made a good president, though. And I am still, and always will be, a registered independent, but for all my Green brothers and sisters in arms this time around, the 120,389 others across the country (including 7,776 other people in Ohio) that voted for McKinney – 0.1 percent of the votes in the presidential election – thank you fighting the good fight. No one else I know personally feels the way I do, but obviously I’m not completely alone when it comes to these issues.

Oh, and someone asked me why I didn’t just vote Libertarian. Well, I agree with the Libertarians on a lot of things, but there are a few key deal-breakers, among them the belief that private ownership of public lands will better protect the environment. Another is the idea that there should be no government regulation of business – deregulation of business got us into our current economic mess, in no small part, obviously.

I’ve got problems with the Green Party, too, but I haven’t found any beyond-dispute deal breakers in that party’s platform. No plans to change my voter registration from “independent,” though. In fact, I might not have voted at all, but McKinney, a former member of the Georgia Congressional delegation, is on record as being against FISA and the bailout of Wall Street; that pushed me into the Green column this year.

Speaking of Libertarianism, civil rights, and fabulousness, we’ve still got a ways to go. We may have turned a page in living up to the ideas embodied in the founding documents of the United States with the election of Obama, but still not everyone enjoys the rights, protections and freedom the rest of us have.

The good fight continues.