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?