I’ve articulated some of my thoughts on the election, yet I see I have left some important stuff out.
For one thing, although I’ve been mildly disgusted by this presidential campaign, I’m actually less disgusted by the two major candidates than in any race I can remember. Some friends have expressed dismay that they can support neither McCain nor Obama. I’m like, welcome to my world. That’s how I’ve felt my whole life. Yet I actually feel less like that on this go-round.
Another thing: Despite all my reservations and qualifications and hedges and misgivings, I really want to see Obama win. I think an Obama victory would be much better for the nation than a McCain victory. In fact, I’d love to see an Obama landslide. I think that would be great.
And it’s not just opposition to McCain. I genuinely want to see Obama in the White House. There are many reasons, but I’ll mention just a couple: the war, and race.
The war in Iraq is still a huge issue in my mind, despite being eclipsed by the economy. It’s amazing to me that we have a major candidate on the ballot who opposed the war. An Obama victory would symbolize a repudiation of Bush’s doctrine of preemptive aggression.
Then there’s the race issue. We’d like to pretend we’re living in a post-racial era, but race still matters. Race is intricately bound up with class. Take race and class together, and you’ve got an issue that not only matters, but matters hugely. If we’re such an egalitarian country, how come every president we’ve had has been white and male? Obviously we haven’t quite reached the high ideals to which we aspire.
I’m not so naïve as to suppose that an Obama victory would correct that in some magical fashion. In fact, I can envision the opposite. The talking point will go like this: “There’s a black man in the white house, so stop whining about inequality.” I don’t nourish any fantasies that a black president would make our racial problems disappear.
And yet I’m reminded of something E.J. said many months ago:
…there’s been a lot of talk about facing our race problem and “talking about it,” but I get the sense everyone’s waiting for their invitation to a nice roundtable summit, one afternoon at the Convention Center, where we can engage in a dialogue about our feelings. That ain’t gonna cut it.
E.J. was speaking about post-Katrina New Orleans in particular, but those words come back to me every time there’s a racial flare-up on the national scene, like the Don Imus debacle or whatever. We need to have dialog on these issues. But it never really happens. If Obama is elected, we’ll be having some dialog all right, and it will keep coming as long as he’s in office. It won’t always be pretty. It will get downright ugly sometimes, I’m sure. And I’m not sure where it will lead — there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. I think it will be therapeutic, but therapy is not without risks.
So, yes, I hope Obama wins over McCain. No question.
Of course I’d love to see a victory by someone who more closely approximates my values. But here’s an interesting little factoid from Electoral-vote.com:
The Green Party candidate, former representative Cynthia McKinney, has raised $177,000 so far this year, a sum Barack Obama raises every hour.
Kind of puts things in an interesting perspective.
Then there’s the question of voting. But that’s another thing entirely.