Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm Ashamed of Myself

I have a bit of a secret that I'm a bit ashamed of. Normally, I'm full of ironic disinterest and emotionally distance myself from the world around me, at least on the outside. K knows that front of mine is entirely for entertainment purposes and that I'm actually a weepy romantic who's entirely full of shit. However, in the past I've always been able to remain pragmatic and passionless when it came to politics. I voted for Nader during W's first run on the White House, but I honestly knew it was a wasted vote (but then so was a vote for Gore in Georgia). I respected a lot of what Nader stood for (and understood he was never a perfect match for the Green Party), but I voted for him in the hopes he'd get the votes needed to get the Green Party an automatic berth on the ballot in future elections in my state. I wasn't even a gung-ho Green Party type. I just wanted to get another party enough clout to perhaps re-energize the left.

I voted for Kerry in the next election. I knew he was a lousy politician, not by his platform or his ethics (which could have been lousy, but I have no proof) but by the fact he perhaps had a dollop more charisma than Gore, but not enough to be worth anything. This guy wasn't going to have any pull at the polls and it worried me he wouldn't have any pull as president. My vote was entirely a vote against Bush, again wasted in a state that had become staunchly red in my lifetime. I had no delusions of Kerry as a savior or even anything more than just another big-time politician. I pulled the lever because he was the only realistic option.

The last time I felt anything resembling passion for a politician was back in my youth. When I was 12, Ross Perot made his first run for president and impressed me. I was just starting to grow out of my Republican Limbaugh-loving childhood (I was a weird kid) and this guy really impressed me. Actually, if you go back to his campaign and withhold the humor of the short guy with the big ears pulling out the charts, you'll realize that he wasn't really a joke. That guy was better prepared and more practical in his approach than any politician before or since. You knew exactly what you were getting with him and you knew that while Dana Carvey would be mocking him anyway, that he would have made a highly competent leader. In fact my enthusiasm for the guy was so great that I even managed to convince my parents to vote for the guy. Not too shabby for a kid in middle school.

It wasn't long after that I realized that there's no such thing as a good politician at that level. The obstacle course of elections and backroom dealings they have to go through to get there weeds out anyone who isn't so obsessively competitive and desirous of power that they're willing to bend or break the rules. This often extends into their personal life, which explains why politicians seem to have more personal scandals than people I personally know. They're used to be powerful and getting what they want and it corrupts them. I've never been fooled since and I have always voted with the knowledge that the guy I agreed with more was still probably a complete tool. That doesn't exactly lead to enthusiastic voting. In fact, I've skipped voting for most elections since I turned 18 ten years ago. It just didn't matter.

This time is different. Despite my active attempts to prevent it, I keep getting excited about Barack Obama. I'm fully aware that part of it is his charisma. I could feel his pull the very first time I saw him speak while at work at the newspaper with CNN on mute while he spoke at the Democratic National Convention four years ago. I know that just because he's animal magnetism personified (if you remove any sexual connotations from the term) it doesn't mean that he's any better of a person or any more sincere in his policies than other presidential candidates. Still, I find myself hoping that his supersonic political rise didn't get him enough time to develop the ideological cynicism prevalent among high-level politicians. I ignore his modification of political stances as just his acknowledgment that he has to get elected first and compromise is the only way things are going to get done with our political system. Despite my surging enthusiasm for this man, I know that I'm probably placing my own hopes on his carefully crafted facade. Still, I can only hope that enough people share my enthusiasm so that I can press his name on the touch-screen in November, watch him become president next year and then have him play the part well enough that I can keep pretending even after he leaves office. I'd be satisfied with that. As long as he keeps that facade up, I'll be happy.

You know what? This video pretty much mocks me sufficiently.


Courtney said...

So your big shameful secret is that you like Obama? That's nothing to be ashamed of; the guy is inspiring. How anyone could have watched his speech on Thursday and still not want him to be president is beyond me.

That video is hilarious, though.

Jacob said...

Not that I like the guy, but that I'm so enthusiastic about liking the guy. The last thing I want to be is one of those die-hard political groupies who can't admit when their guy has fucked up because they love him so much. I'm going to have to watch myself with this guy. I'd prefer myself to remain rational and emotionally detached so I don't get stupid with him. Being stupid in love is a good thing. Being stupid in politics not so much.

Chris said...

I hear you, Jacob. I'm drawn to the guy, too, even though I know he's probably totally full of shit.

If nothing else, I think he's less likely to ship all the boys who like to play with guns off to some desert to die. I count that as a solid reason to vote for him.

Julie said...

I have to hope that as a novice, he'd be more willing to listen to the advice of really smart people. I would elect a complete and total moron if they would surround themselves with the best cabinet available.