Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sorry, But It's Another Political Rant

(I promise to try not to keep being political at this blog. There are plenty of other blogs that do that. But I just have to get this off my chest. Don't worry. I'll follow this post with a meme or more photos or maybe even something from that list of topics I'm supposed to be covering.)

As everyone knows (even those of us temporarily stationed in the wilds of Maine), we are in a very scary financial crisis. Anyone who knows anything about history (which most Americans don't, thanks to our fabulous education system) can easily make connections between the late 1920s and today. What happened in the late 1920s? Panic. Some theorize that the crash might never have been as severe as it was if people had remained calm. Have you seen what's been happening since last week? Everyone's been panicking. I heard a news report in which someone was describing people selling off their stocks the way they race for emergency exits when they think there's a bomb threat.

All those non-Americans who know their history also happen to know what happens during election years when the economy is bad. That's right. The party in power gets ousted. I don't have to tell anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis that I don't have much faith in the Republican party. When I'm not finding it incredibly annoying, I find it amusing that I know quite a few people who say things like, "I'm pretty liberal when it comes to social issues, but I vote Republican, because I'm a fiscal conservative, and I'm worried about my money." It was Harry Truman who said, "If you want to live like a Republican, vote for a Democrat." In my adult lifetime, his advice has certainly rung true. The Republicans have been the party that has dug us into record-breaking debt, despite lots of people's conviction that the Republican party is the one that is fiscally smart. Now, thanks to years of mismanagement, years that seem to be proving that when you give to the rich, the wealth does not "trickle down" to the poor (it "trickles down" all right. It trickles down to nothing for anybody), we're on the verge of economic collapse here.

Guess what. McCain, being aligned with this party that has been in office and is most likely to be blamed for this collapse, actually seems to be a little bit frightened. For a while, he had the Palin distraction, which certainly seems to have worked. But he can no longer keep pulling cute little bunnies out of hats over here, distracting us from the hole where he plans to disappear over there. Many of us can see that huge hole, and we want to know why it's there.

So, what's he doing? It's a brilliant spin (one that proves, yet again, that Republicans just really are better politicians than Democrats are). He's giving up his campaign to concentrate on the bailout plan. This noble sacrifice that he's making for the good of the country, of course, will mean that he has to pull out of the debate scheduled for tomorrow night. What? Oh, why yes, that makes perfect sense. Canceling a debate at 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night, when government officials from all over the country are bound to be hard at work on the economic crisis, makes perfect sense. Please reassure me. Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees this as a political move, not the only one theorizing that McCain is terrified of a debate right now.

It would make a great novel if we weren't living it right here and now. I happened to watch Bill Clinton on Larry King last night, and Clinton said something so true and so insightful, which was that neither he nor Larry King would probably be much affected no matter who gets elected in November. He's right, and, truth be told, unless things really get bad economically, neither will I. As much as I despise Bush, I have to admit that my personal life hasn't changed much in the past 8 years. It's actually improved (something it would have done no matter who was in office). I've got a better, higher-paying job. Thanks to Bob's new job, I have free housing. Thanks to his job, I have free health insurance. If I didn't have it through him, I'd have relatively inexpensive health insurance through my own company. I can afford to eat well. I can afford to do the things I love to do, like scuba dive and rent a cottage in Maine. I can afford to feed my book and cd addictions. I'm doing fine.

But, the thing is, I care about others. I'm aware that I'm extremely fortunate, and I'm very aware of those who are nowhere near as fortunate as I am. I care about soldiers coming home from Iraq with missing limbs and a government that's ignoring them while encouraging everyone to display "support our troops" bumper stickers. I care about parents who've lost children to this senseless war (and I mean both American and Iraqi parents, because God created all humans, not just American humans). I care that people have to file for bankruptcy, because a family member needed cancer treatments. I care that people lose their jobs, are unemployed for months, and then lose their homes. I also care that kids in the majority of public school classrooms are being taught to take tests and are not being taught how to think creatively, or how to reason, or how to solve problems.

And, dammit, I want to see a debate in which McCain addresses all these things about which I care. I want to hear what he plans to do about them. He says he cares. He says he's for change. Well, I was educated in a system that was not driven by tests. I was taught to question and to ask for proof. I want proof. Participating in the bailout plan today gives me some proof that he cares. However, pretending he's addressing the financial crisis (single-handedly, I suppose?) at 9:00 on a Friday night does nothing to prove to me that he really cares. I'm prone to think that he's just verifying my gut instincts: what he cares about most is getting elected. And he just might not get elected if he has to stand up and debate Obama right now.

12 comments:

Danny said...

McCain "suspending" his campaign is a joke, and an insulting one at that. Nice try, John, but the public isn't buying it. What better time to debate your rival? This will backfire badly. I heard he also wants to delay the VP debate next week. Why, because Sarah Palin is so desperately needed to help solve the economic crisis?

litlove said...

Is it possible to pull out of a debate and retain public support? I don't know much about American politics, and what I do know comes from the Abraham Lincoln years, but I thought debate was absolutely central to the election. It does indeed sound like a cowardly and cunning move to back out of it at the last minute. He can work on his financial plan on the weekend if he's that keen.

Emily Barton said...

Danny, an insulting joke is right, and oh yes, I'm sure everyone is going to be turning to Palin for her help in the economic crisis.

Litlove, he shouldn't be able to retain public support, but he's clever enough that if he spins it the right way, he probably will. It's an extremely cowardly and cunning move.

Courtney said...

Our thoughts are once again aligned closely together and I have a post about the possibility of a McCain presidency and what some of my most liberal friends are saying brewing as well...something along the lines of perhaps if people are so determined to vote on non-issues then they deserve McCain...long story. Anyway,from what I read this morning McCain in no way "Participated" yesterday while Obama actively did so. If McCain doesn't show up for the debate tonight I am absolutely going to lose my mind. I am very, very anxious about this evening...

ZoesMom said...

Amen sister! I couldn't agree with you more.

The idea of suspending the debate is ridiculously wrong. We need to hear these guys talk about how they are going to work at fixing the mess we're in AND how they're going to keep it from happening again.

Emily Barton said...

Court, looking forward to reading your political post. During the last presidential election, Bob and I met a guy on the subway in NY who said he was voting for Bush precisely because this country needed to hit rock bottom to pull itself out of its focus on unimportant matters. An interesting idea, but I don't particularly want to be dragged down to rock bottom, when I'm someone who DOES care about important matters.

ZM, it was one of the most interesting debates I've seen. Much less of that typical "I-can't-answer-this-question-so-I'm-going-on-the-attack" than we've had in the past. Still, I have no idea how a middle class American could listen to what O'Bama had to say and not vote for him.

stefanie said...

McCain suspending his campaign to solve the financial crisis was a purely political move to make him seem like he cared more about what was happening than Obama. But I think it backfired. I think he had to show up at the debate last night because everyone else was going to be there and wouldn't it look stupid if he wasn't?

Cam said...

The whole suspension of campaign was such a joke. Here in Indiana, where Obama just pulled ahead in the polls last week -- a remarkable feat for a state that has voted Republican for the last 40 years -- it seems like McCain actually increased his TV ads. Does he really think we are that stupid? I thought the debate was good -- I hope that undecided voters saw McCain for who he is. Heard Obama has a new ad that points out how McCain didn't mention the Middle Class or 'working people' once during the debate.

Emily Barton said...

Stef, yeah, I definitely think it backfired.

Cam, go Indiana! And now I'll have to go find that ad.

Susan said...

What a great post, Emily. I didn't hear he was cancelling it, but I was out Friday night and got back too late to catch the V-P debate too. My husband was watching and couldn't decide who did better. You wouldn't think people in Canada care, but we do for two reasons: whatever happens to the US economy eventually trickles to us, so our housing market is slowing down now - though our banks never did the sub-prime mortgage deals so they are not nearly as shaky, thankfully - and b) your elections are way more interesting than ours. We have our own federal election - Prime minister and cabinet ministers - coming up in October, and it's so BORING because no one understands what the liberal (equivalent to your Democrats) is actually saying (his French accent is so thick) and he keeps changing how he talks about his party's platforms so no one undertands that they plan to do if they win, and the Conservatives just want a majority, which I personally am terrified of, since I remember what the last Conservative (equivalent to your Republican party) did in the 1980's - scandal after scandal and so many cutbacks that the country is still recovering. I remember those days! But there's no fire to our political debates at all - they usually end up just-above name calling, and diggingup the past - instead of talking about real ideas, and advancing their real plans of action. YOur debates are much better! So we pay attention u here....Great post and now I'm even more afraid of McCain winning! Sarah Palin is like a nightmare to thinking women everywhere. I sure wish we could vote, from up here!!!

Pete said...

Great post Emily. This comment is very late but I wanted to add that having read George Lakoff's comments over at the Huffington Post I'm pretty scared that McCain might just be able to pull it off with his folksy charm. Obama needs to up his game to win this one. Lakoff's point basically: Don't debate the issues so much as show character. Americans will vote for you if they trust you.

Emily Barton said...

Susan, you and other Canadians SHOULD be paying attention, and too bad you can't vote, is right. And I'm saying this not only for the reasons you mention, but also because everyone I know who is supporting O'Bama is threatening to move to Canada if he doesn't win. I'm sure you-all don't want hundreds of thousands of American immigrants racing onto your shores!

Pete, at the moment (fingers firmly crossed), we're all quite hopeful that McCain is falling in the polls.