I knew I wasn’t voting Republican, that much was certain. No offense to our Republican readers, but eight years is enough. I am not better off than I was in 2000. John McCain is too busy being a war tactician. Mitt Romney personifies meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Rudolph Giuliani marginalized himself way too early as the 9/11 Mayor, insinuating a vote against him was a vote for American girls in burqas, American boys conscripted into jihad and death to the rest. Ron Paul presented some very good ideas and a visionary sense of Constitution-first governance… meaning he hadn’t a snowman’s Sunday in hell. Call that glib, but thus far he has been the poster child for un-electability.
But take heart, my friends of the Grand Old Party. Up until recently, I thought I was set on my candidate. I thought she could take us back to better days. I thought she had the experience to right political wrongs. I thought she was the solution to the problem of ‘how do we get out of this hole.’ Then I found out she was a he… Or a he/she. The point being, I was ready to pull the switch for Clinton before her name became Billary. Oh, I was moved like everyone else during her primary breakdown when, on the verge of tears, Hillary said, “It’s about our country. It’s about our kids’ futures. It’s really about all of us together. You know some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country. But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not.”
I thought that the emotions were real and that she had finally come down from her ivory tower, down here to where we’re scratching to get by, and was ready to try new things, banding together and not tearing apart.
And then there’s Bill. We were prepared to forgive him everything if he only, as the Rock once so eloquently stated, knew his role. We thought this was her time, not his. Surely he recognized that dynamic and would remain a statesmen and not a street brawler. Oh, sure. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen him stumping like the candidate, not the candidate’s spouse. We’ve watched as the attention whore of old jumped back in front of the mic and did his pirouette. Most unforgivably, we’ve seen him race-baiting — something we never would have expected from “America’s first black President.” If we thought he understood the divisiveness of race in politics before, those thoughts quickly evaporated in the face of just another scam to win at any cost. Were Hillary’s tears all so much greasepaint and Shakespeare? Feeling like I had been suckered left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
It was about this time that I had to consider Barack Obama. I hadn’t before, I mean, not seriously. First of all, the Clintons left Washington with a budget surplus. I miss those days. Clintons had a knack for beating Bushes (I couldn’t help myself) and making changes. About all I knew of Obama was that he gave a dynamite speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention and that Oprah was supporting him. Contrarian that I am, I thought, “I haven’t bought into Oprah’s
national directives demands pronouncements from Mount Olympus endorsements and I’ll be damned if I sign up for her politician-of-the-month club.” Suddenly, in the wake of Billary, I find myself doing a 180-degree turn.
What, you may ask, about John Edwards? He seems like a decent guy, a down-home type of fellow with his youthful appearance and “aw shucks” drawl, but he also strikes me as being too close to the archetypes I want the nation to move away from. Only profound and dramatic movements make a dent on our culture, it seems. We were told that severe Islamic power shifts were occurring in Afghanistan long before planes struck the World Trade Center, but we needed the horrifying collisions to make it real to us. We have been told of the effects of pollution in the atmosphere for decades, but it took drought-wrenched summers and freakish natural spasms to bring it on home. We won’t take the bird pandemic seriously until someone in New York or Los Angeles dies, and that’s a shame. Edwards could be a good President, but he’ll never make history.
Which, obviously, brings us back to the first viable African American candidate and the first viable female candidate. Only now, where Hillary once represented a quantum leap forward, she reeks of dynasties, of political entitlement, her affectations of experience mere codewords denoting implied I.O.U’s being cashed in for power, and while this all may be exaggeration in my mind, a massive blowing-out-of-proportion, it doesn’t feel that way.
The tired old gag is that behind every great man is a great woman. It’s pretty clear that he’s not great enough to let her step fully into the limelight and that certainly impacts my decision-making process. I need my next president to finally tackle race as the major obstacle keeping the U.S. from being all it could and should be, not to throw shapes and voices and the specter of Willie Horton. I need my next president to face, head on, the true problems with our economy and take on the powers-that-be who like things just as they are. I need my next president to decide that futile wars are worth ending, not waging. I need my next president to be committed to giving the next generation a better life than the current because, for the moment, it’s an awfully cloudy morning in America.
It is, as of this writing, a week before the Super Duper Tuesday Primaries and I need my next president to address all that criteria, stat. I have a load of reconsidering to do.
Postmortem Post Script: The day after the “final” draft of this article was submitted, Rudolph Giuliani and John Edwards dropped from the race, Giuliani quickly throwing his support behind John McCain. Edwards has yet to back a remaining candidate and has indicated he may not back one at all. As of this P.S. it is now five days and counting to Super Tuesday Primaries.