Friday, October 17, 2008

Politics & Me

I grew up in a house that emphasized being active in politics, not just in theory, but in everyday practice. I've not said much up to this point on Kook Tales about the election or the candidates, but I imagine that if you know me, you know that I have been enthusiastically awaiting every debate, spending hours on YouTube following the candidates speeches & have read just about every word on both of their websites (that's quite a triumph - politicians are wordy).

Things you should know:

  1. I'm registered as an Independent. I made this decision for one reason - my vote is not guaranteed to anyone based on their party affiliation.
  2. I'm about as liberal as they come, and I make no apologies for it. I'm currently in the process of convincing my "life partner" (i.e. my husband) to join me in demanding a civil union when they become legal in Florida.
  3. If you don't agree with me, I'm fine with that. I might attempt a joke or two, but I will also uphold your right to voice your opinion. I expect the same consideration in return.
My first election was two days after my 18th birthday in November of 2000. That also became my first taste of frustration with American politics. At that time, I found myself at the heart of the biggest and most costly political disaster in my lifetime. Any optimism that I held toward our political process was stolen from me on January 8, 2001. On that day MY Representative stood in front of both the House & Senate and voiced MY concerns. As you probably know, those concerns feel upon deaf ears in the Senate (and don't for a second think that I've forgotten that two of those 'deaf' Senators are currently running for President!).

By the time the 2004 election rolled around, I had a renewed sense of patriotism & a desperate need to have my voice heard. Following that election, frustration was no longer a strong enough word. My feelings toward politics & American voters have become both cynical and untrusting (love you, but collectively - you suck!). I loathe politicians, and I find their vulgar name-calling & vicious attitudes demoralizing. Something about the ease with which they spout those empty, rehearsed lines of rhetoric - echoing everything they believe will get them elected while utterly ignoring what's best for our country and it's citizens.

Despite my unsettled feelings toward politics, I find that (again!) I have a renewed sense of importance over this election. If the United States is ever going to become that vision of stability and compassion that I see in my head, I know it's my responsibility to take part in creating it. Americans need to unite, not based on their religious beliefs or political affiliations, but on our commitment to our nation. We need to recognize that our strength comes from our diversity, and this diversity supports the checks & balances that are necessary in politics.

In the past, I've always dedicated my votes to someone. In 2000 it was my American Government teacher, and 2004 was for my parents. This year, however, my vote is dedicated to Stephan Baldwin.

Stephan, honey, I'm canceling you out!!

I mailed in my absentee ballot today. With great pride, I darkened the bubble next to Obama's name and then said a little prayer to the Universe. You see, I grew up with the self-centric view that America was great. Slowly but surely, I've come to the realization that we are no longer the country that our founders believed in; the land of opportunity. This thought above all others is what scares me.

I don't think anyone could say it better than this....

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