(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.