He laughed in my face when he heard that I care about politics
by Dracomicron, Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 08:58:03 AM EDT
We have an enemy besides McCain and the Republicans, and it's not Barr or Nader.
I work facilities for a major financial institution, taking calls from advisors and their staffs who are too hot or too cold, have spilled something, broke their desks, or the like. Most mornings I take my break with some of the furniture guys; they're decent folks: blue collar fellas who are wary of politicians.
This year, though, things inevitably turn to politics, because it seems like it's all anyone ever talks about. An older guy I sit with has seemed to be in favor of Obama, but I suspect that he just wanted him to knock off Clinton; the race issue quietly makes a difference to him and he sometimes gets his news from FOX. We're all pretty respectful, for the most part, though, and don't let disagreements get in the way of our friendship or work.
Which brings us to today. Today the manager of the furniture team was there, which is unusual. He doesn't usually take breaks with the plebians. When politics eventually came up, he was going on and on about how all politicians are crooks and liars who had no conception of the troubles of the average person, and that included Obama. I said that that my research suggested otherwise and I wanted Obama to win, he laughed in my face, said, "I'm really sorry," and walked away.
I was left sitting there dumbfounded, barely managing an angry "I'm sorry for having beliefs" as he walked off. The other guys sighed and said that was what they had to deal with every day. I was surprised that the guy was so disrespectful; this is a person I have worked with steadily (mostly over the phone) for four years.
The older gentleman I mentioned before had suggested that last night's infomercial was a "victory lap," and while I didn't see it (I was out doorknocking to Get Out The Vote for Obama and Franken), I also know that Obama does not consider this a done deal; he'll do the victory lap when all the votes are in, he has more electoral votes, and the Supreme Court doesn't have to get involved. Our disagreement on that was terse but respectful, and we both backed off... the manager, though, went off on a rant about how the fact that Cindy McCain wore a $300,000 outfit the other day means that neither Obama nor McCain have a clue about the middle class, or will follow through on any of their promises.
I get where he's coming from. I really do. I have believed in the past that the Democrat running for president was the lesser of two evils and that they'd probably just be a better manager of Ronald Reagan's ideals than the Republican alternative. What I don't get is how someone could emit such disdain and disrespect for someone with beliefs trying to make a positive difference. Though I am not religious, I don't try to second-guess the motives of missionaries bringing food and education to Third World peoples; I only criticize them when their actions betray some other motive (like demonizing native religion).
How large is the segment of society that is so cynical and broken from years of the status quo and things only ever getting worse that they heap derision and scorn upon anyone who would work for an ideal of improvement for all people?
One of the people I canvassed last night was an old lady, possibly a McCain supporter, who told me, "The only right we have left is the right not to tell anyone who we're voting for." I agree that it's a fundamental right, and is one of the reasons I don't like phonebanking or canvassing: people need to make their own decisions. If the straits weren't dire, then I'd never do it. What the woman's statement really told me, however, was that many people see their canoe as sinking down to the water line; they resent anyone rocking the boat, lest it upturn and do down completely.
I have a favorite saying, "We're playing for all the marbles." When we're not only going up against the Republican smear machine, but also indifference and apathy painstakingly crafted by years of politicians on both sides of the aisle making false promises and letting their idealism get blunted by the mundane need of getting re-elected, then we need to redouble our efforts and get out the vote as strongly as we can.
What a lot of these older, cynical people don't realize is that we're in the dawn of a new internet age. Politicians who have fed on apathy and expedience, too, don't understand this "series of tubes" that can be used to disseminate all sorts of information--What you say in front of the NRA this week can be seen by people in the PTA you'll be talking to next week. Yes, it can be used to spread lies as well as truth, but I think Obama's proven that the lies don't stick as well as the truth does.
What we need to do is to take matters into our own hands and hold our media, our politicians, and ourselves accountable. We can make a difference. If an ex-slave could make a difference in the 19th century, then we, born free men and women living in the 21st century, what can we achieve?
Master Lincoln, he's a great man, and I am a poor negro; but the negro can tell master Lincoln how to save the money and the young men. He can do it by setting the negro free. Suppose that was an awful big snake down there, on the floor. He bite you. Folks all scared, because you die. You send for a doctor to cut the bite; but the snake, he rolled up there, and while the doctor doing it, he bite you again. The doctor dug out that bite; but while the doctor doing it, the snake, he spring up and bite you again; so he keep doing it, till you kill him. That's what master Lincoln ought to know.
Harriet Tubman was speaking of the slaver states, of course, but her point holds true today: we can patch our wounds every time we get hit, but we're just going to keep getting hit until we start believing that we can make a difference ourselves.
So I'm going to be taking the hits with a little dignity. It's not long now. Ms. Tubman said something else, which we remember with a little help from Hillary Clinton:
No matter what happens... keep going.
When you hear the dogs in the distance.... keep going.
When you see the lit torches nearby.... keep going.
When voices are calling out behind you in the dark.... keep going!
This is ours. Keep going. Push. Vote.