Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kick Hillary's Tires - Would You Buy Her?


I caught myself blankly staring out the window soon after waking up early this morning, mired deep in thought. A friend of mine interrupted my barely blinking, open mouthed catatonia by inquiring if I was alright. I resumed blinking and assured her I was fine. She appeared skeptical, but begrudgingly accepted my assurances. At this point, I randomly asked if she were voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, whom would she vote for and why. She's an extraordinarily intelligent person and I was interested in her thoughts. Without batting an eye, she said she had no idea and wanted me to take her out for breakfast. I agreed, but not until she satisfactorily answered my question. Always the negotiators, we reached a compromise that called for her to answer at breakfast, providing I paid for her waffle and coffee.

We were seated and ordered, so now came time for her thought provoking answer. She reminded me that she was not an American citizen and therefore not eligible to vote. I was well aware of that fact, but still wanted to know who she would vote for if eligible. After a few sips of coffee, she said and I quote, "I don't know, maybe that Obama guy, because he's kind of cute." I gave her my famous "the look" and she gave me her famous "the smile" and then she finally agreed to talk. Wow, that was a lot easier than I thought. She was of the opinion that most Americans tend to vote for the candidate that thinks most like they do. She went on to add that people in the U.S. have very narrow points of view when it comes to electing candidates. People align themselves in groups and rarely will go outside that group when it comes time to electing candidates to office. I found myself in total agreement with her foreign observations. Someone who defines herself or himself as a conservative republican, evangelical, pro life bible belter isn't very likely to vote for a northeast, liberal democrat who is pro choice and smoked a joint in college. I realize that cuts both ways, the liberal is unlikely to vote for the evangelical as well.

I've spent extensive time in western Europe and notice the average person there is markedly different from the average person in the states. My European friend is amazed by how different our forms of democracy are practiced. With the possible exception of Vatican City, religion plays no role in politics in Europe. People choose candidates based on what their plans are for the state and people, rather than a particular philosophic group they are beholden to. Candidates in American politics play primarily to a narrow core of constituents. It is impossible for a republican to run for president nowadays without swearing an allegiance to Ronald Reagan, banning abortion and claiming to be more conservative than the rest of the field. It is equally essential for a democrat to be pro choice, pro unions and pro everything else republicans aren't. Both sides beat you over the head with their differences until you become indifferent.

It seems the one exception to these rules is Senator Hillary Clinton. Most people primarily evoke indifference from the masses. Not Hillary. It seems that half the country hates her and the other half loves her. That makes her sound like the ultimate candidate, but in reality, it's because she's the ultimate politician. The only thing that changes more than Hillary Clinton's viewpoints is a baby's diaper. Hillary's supporters say she changes because of her ability to be flexible whereas her detractors think her viewpoints are equatable with the contents of said diaper. Hillary seems to be on every side of every issue. In an attempt to broaden her appeal, she often lies about everything while she stands for nothing. She also seems to embody the adage of "When the going gets tough, the tough get teary." I think if Hillary acted more like a genuine human being instead of a manipulative politician, she would see her appeal expand exponentially. Perhaps her toughest challenge would be sitting her spouse down and reminding him about the new alpha-beta dynamic in their relationship. The two for the price of one concept is appealing if you're buying his and her wristwatches, but not when electing presidents.

But getting back to my European friend's query as to why Americans vote the way they do. I thought of another president in another time who asked us to ask of ourselves not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country. We live in a time where our expenses often outweigh our assets, religion is more group fanaticism than individual reflection and looking backward to our past represents a better life than looking forward to the future. No president should be elected because of his or her sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, political party affiliation or how they publicly feel about your private feelings. When any particular entity sees itself leaning in too many directions simultaneously, it's only a matter of time before the constant stress placed on said entity causes it to fracture. Most people think if you fix enough of the little, the big will be fine. But what if you should think extreme and instead fix the big? I think that would so minimize the little, it would cease to exist. Back away from your computer and go outside to get some fresh air. Then go find some tires to kick and think big about what's best for your country. That's what I'm going to do, but first, fresh waffles and coffee. Mmmm...

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