Election 2012: Confessions of a Closet Pragmatist

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Current Events, Life

On the cusp of this Election 2012 in the United States of America, I sit at this laptop with a decision to make. (Actually, I’ve already voted!)   To put it to you slick: Vote for O or vote for Ro?  That is the question before us.

Many would have you believe that this is the most important election in our nation’s history.  We stand on the brink, they say. On the brink of a fundamental shift in the fabric of these United States.  Many of the conservative persuasion see the inexorable decline of the Obama administration into a “European style government,” (kinda like the Magna Carta?) where we tug at the strings of “Socialism,” (kinda like what Jesus and his disciples practiced?) as an usurpation of the Constitution; a negation of what this country used to be.

Many on the liberal side of the equation view President Obama’s policies as a necessary tonic for the ills we find ourselves in, a “tussin” poured deep into a flummoxed nation after two terms of a hawkish Bush administration.

I agree this is a defining moment in our nation’s history.  I believe, however, that the most important election in the history of this country is always the next one, because it implies we’re still around.  That may sound like a hustle, like a sidestepping of the gravity of this election.  But I assure you it’s not.  It is the result of a practical aspect of my citizenship; the pragmatic nature of my politics.

When I voted for G.W. Bush the first time (after having voted for Clinton), I was voting for a Texan and the “Fuck you, I’m from Texas” attitude.  The form of Republicanism G.W. Bush espoused, what he called “compassionate conservatism,” I felt was a push in the right direction for the country.  I was listening to a lot of talk radio then and it showed. And in any case, I just could not see myself voting for Al Gore.

When I supported W. the second time, I was voting for a hawk.  A macho man Cowboy to lead the U.S. into the sunset like so many John Wayne movies.  Anything to get out of the 9/11 funk we were in and to restore a semblance of strength to our nation.  Boy, did I back the wrong horse on that one. We went form strong to bully in no time flat.

In 2008, I cast my vote for John McCain (I know, right?)  Again, talk radio was influential to some degree but I voted mostly on the side of experience.  With multiple wars raging, I felt that John McCain was who I could trust the most in that arena.  When Obama won the election, I was not completely disheartened.  My world did not come to an end is what I’m saying.  I can now say, I’m glad he lost the race.  I’m fairly certain not only would we still have an active war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Iran and Pakistan as well.  The Bush Doctrine would win the day.

In the end, the financial crisis was much more suited for Barack Obama than John McCain.  The decisions that had to be made simply could not have been made by a Republican president.  We would have a collapsed car industry (thanks you bailout!) and a still plummeting housing market (thank you bailout!). We would have a more hostile country for many many people the establishment considers “other” at best, “anathema” at worst.  And those of us who “have never met a payroll” would still not be worth the air we breathe.

Today I voted for President Obama.  My first Democratic vote since Clinton! Again, it is the result of a practical aspect of my citizenship; the pragmatic nature of my politics. I used to think that the above dichotomy between conservative and liberal was only useful within the flash fiction of CNN and Fox News.  To borrow a phrase from Rush Limbaugh, that it was the bread and butter of the “drive by media.”  Meant to first entertain, then inform.  To engage, then educate.  I no longer see that as the case.  There are very real differences between the two parties.  I reject the notion that voting is what matters, that it doesn’t matter WHO you vote for as long as you VOTE.  Well, that is rather like saying it doesn’t matter WHO you have faith in, as long as you have FAITH.   Rubbish! Of course it matters.

What’s the character of your candidate? More importantly, what is the content of that character?  What good is even a billion more jobs if the nation has lost it soul in the process?  What good is equity in our country if our government is bankrupt?  I don’t have the solutions to these problems and the reality is, neither does any candidate currently running for office. The solution to the issues we face will not be found in a party affiliation. It will not be found in a religious book. It will not be found by making more money, in the private sector or the government.

So to Romney supporters: I know how it feels to lose.  However, I don’t know how it feels to harbor the sort of bleakness and apocalypse I’m seeing all across the Republican party.  It’s only four more years and you even get to keep the House.  If there is any truth to the post election fallout it is this: what happened on election night is four more years of more of the same.  I can live with that. So can you.

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