Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The oracle of Iowa.

Even though I lived “inside the Beltway” for 10 years, which one is not permitted to do unless she takes an oath to spend at least 60% of her time talking about politics and watching Sunday morning news shows, I still have trouble understanding some things about the political process. For example, what is the importance of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries? Do they serve any real purpose beyond forecasting the initial thoughts of the citizens of two of our fifty states, and 2 of the more unremarkable states, at that? I’ve always found the energy put by the candidates into securing the lead in those states as rather extreme.

One thing the Iowa primary does seem to be showing this year is that the Republican Party is in dire straits. The frontrunners in Iowa are Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, which to my mind is truly bizarre. When did the Republican Party become the party that values Christian faith and fearmongering above all else? Why is it so important to have someone who holds out his Christian values like a shield in the Oval Office? Why would anyone in his right mind want that? I can’t imagine that the entire party thinks that way. Honestly, I am befuddled and dismayed that the Republican Party has turned into such a wretched throwback to the 1950’s. I don’t remember feeling so antagonistic toward that party when I was in my twenties, even though I have always been a fairly left wing Democrat. Somewhere along the way, though, my general opposition to conservatism turned into outright fear and loathing, and now I feel like the two parties sit on opposite sides of a very deep chasm. At least that’s what the media makes me think – I don’t actually have any Republican friends anymore so I don’t know what they really think. Are they tired of having their party co-opted by Jesus? Didn’t they used to care more about keeping liberal fingers out of the government pie than with whether other Americans were living up to their own moral code?

Anyway, I’d say the Republicans have a pretty crappy slate of men to choose from this year, but who knows if that will keep one from ascending to the right hand of Jesus in November. The Democrats, on the other hand, have almost too many great options. This is the first time I have ever found myself still not knowing who I will vote for in the primary. I am pretty evenly divided between the top three, with a soft spot even for Joe Biden. For a long time, I have leaned towards Edwards, but lately Obama’s charisma and easy manner are starting to sway me. Listening to him speak on Meet the Press on Sunday, and contrasting his obvious intelligence and thoughtfulness about the implications of world events against Mike Huckabee’s annoying, blinkered Christian guy performance, I prayed to your God to please give us a Democrat as president to stop this downward spiral of America’s esteem and position in the world.

And then, of course, there is Hillary. As I’ve said before, I am of two minds about her. She is very intelligent, well-spoken, and in my opinion perfectly capable of stepping smoothly into the role of president and doing a great job. On top of that, she’s a woman, and I wonder if I will kick myself if I don’t vote for her when I genuinely believe she will do as good job for our country as any other of the current batch of contenders. What other woman is there on the horizon with as good a chance as she has of leading this country? Will I see the opportunity again in my lifetime? Should that outweigh my nagging concern that electing her would be, to some extent, business as usual? Because that is what I don’t like about her, and it’s the same thing I don’t like about most politicians – she seems to me like she is in it for the power as much as anything else, and that she is a little too willing to go with the tide. Then… I wonder if I am the kind of woman who holds women back. Is sexism so pervasive that it has infiltrated even the recesses of my own, feminist mind?

If I don’t vote for Hillary, am I a weak sister?


emily said...

GD, I often wonder the same thing.

This past summer I was at dinner with my best friend, her uber-lib and hyper-educated mother, and said mother's uber-libber and as-hyper-educated best friend.

Two generations of pretty smart, savvy women sat across the table from one another and debated the merits of Obama vs. Hillary. The baby boomers are pro HC to the hilt - and my very best friend in the world (the absolute best-hearted, most intelligent woman I have ever met) and I sat opposite them and decried Hillary's very EXISTENCE.

They were, of course, incredulous. We couldn't come up with a reason of why we loathed her beyond her sanctimonious, disingenuous demeanor (and flip-floppery re: major policy issues some years ago and total failure as a health care system implementor). And they questioned our loyalty to the sisterhood.

I have that fucking "Keep Your Laws Off My Body" bumper sticker on my car. And I HATE bumper stickers. But there's something so bright-eyed and sincere and true about Barry Hussein Obama that I can't NOT believe he's got those interests - and, beyond that, larger interests of the common human being - at heart. He'll keep those fucking laws off my body as well as, or better than, a female candidate.

But of course I, too, wonder if I'm betraying my second X chromosome. I just can't get behind her, and he makes my heart stop because he makes me feel, more than any politician has in my cognizant lifetime, that there really is HOPE.

Um, this comment is probably longer than any blog entry I've written in the past six months. Anyway, I feel you. And I can't help but think that the HRC thing is, perhaps, generational, after that that incident in my life. But I can only go with my gut on this one, and GOD THE F BLESS IOWA.

Cindy said...

I'm psyched about the pathetic slate of Republican candidates! With Obama bringing the independents, undecideds, and Democrats together, I think for the first time in ages that there really is hope. As much as my feminist sensibilties want to vote for Hillary, I just don't think she can do this. And we can't mess around this time. In the last two general elections I thought the Democrats had candidates that were so much better than the Republican ones, and look what happened.

Libby said...

I Kate,
I came to your blog via your comment on Melissa Morris' recent post. I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed reading. I also wanted to share that I when I was talking to my Mom after the NH primary she said, "I voted for H. I just couldn't take the idea telling my future grandchildren that I had the chance to vote for our first female president but that I didn't do it." I think that sort of sentiment may take her pretty far.

Libby said...

Er, that was supposed to read Hi Kate. Not I Kate. Argh.