Thursday, September 25, 2008

Understanding American Stupidity in Election Time

Is there anything more frustrating or downright infuriating than American stupidity? I swear, the more we get into this election, the more discouraged I become by the display of sheer idiocy on display by the people who are actually considering voting for the McCain/Palin ticket. It's not bad enough that we just sat through eight friggin' years of lies, deceit and fascism at the hands of a serious nincompoop with daddy issues, but now people are actually considering putting themselves through four more years of it?

For years, there was a swell of excitement surround John McCain. He was supposed to be the "liberal conservative," the "cool" Republican that would straddle the line between social and economic conservatism in a way that would speak to all people. But what happened? As he got closer to announcing his candidacy, he morphed into every other hardline conservative with a greed for power and an over-sized ego. As if his blatant homophobia and sexism wasn't enough, he then proved himself to be completely incompetent when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Many are making the choice out to be one of desperation, but I think it was purely strategic. It's true that his bid for the presidency was beginning to falter prior to choosing Palin, but the choice to bring a small-town soccer mom on board as his VP was sheer brilliance on his part. He did what Obama was too chickenshit to do when he dissed Hilary Clinton in favor of Joe Biden: He brought a loud-mouthed woman to the party. (Personally, I still think Obama was scared of being overshadowed by Hilary's history and her immense support from within the Democratic party.) But Obama's mistake--and say what you will, but his choice to go with Biden over a sure thing like Hilary was a mistake--was McCain's victory. McCain chose a woman that the red staters could relate to: the tough-talking woman who raised them all. He tapped into the rampant narcissism that plagues American culture and gave the Republicans a woman they could look up to--even if she knows diddly-squat about politics--because she reminds them of their own mothers. Ingenious!

But McCain's choice clearly demonstrates the stupidity of the American people who never got out of their hometowns and who cling to a false sense of security like the dirty blanket that Linus obsessively carried around in The Peanuts cartoons. It also represents the self-righteousness of those who resent the success of their former classmates and small-town peers. Voting for Palin is their revenge on everyone who ever left home and actually made something of themselves. Small-town people are nothing if not self-righteous about staying small-town. Terrified of getting out of their comfort zones and actually following their dreams, they stick around their home base because there, they never have to face the possibility of failure. They have no one to answer to back home, because everybody else is too busy deluding themselves into thinking that "dreams" aren't meant to be realized by "good people like me." So they surround themselves with people who will support them in their smallness, and they look down on the ones who actually followed their passions and made a play for happiness. Does this mean that everyone who decided to stay close to home is an idiot? Not at all. I know many people who never left home who are intelligent individuals and who lead very full lives, but there is clearly a large faction of small-town society that has no idea how the rest of the world lives, and that's where Sarah Palin comes in.

Palin clings to her "small-town values" like it's something she should be proud of. In a way, I agree with her. I live in Los Angeles, a huge city where people typically come to escape their boring and painful pasts and remake themselves into someone "fabulous" and "successful." I am very happy to say that I've never given into the superficial tendencies of this city; I am true to my small-town roots in remaining true to things like honesty, loyalty and the belief that everyone is worth my time, not just the beautiful people who look like movie stars. But where I differ from Sarah Palin is that I don't let my small-town values get in the way of empathizing with and accepting others who are different than me. Palin lets her belief that she is better than anyone who is different from her cloud her judgment as a human being and as a politician. And I don't want someone who touts "small-town values" as a badge of honor to be in position where she might end up running the country one day. People in small towns tend to only look out for those who are like them and who share their beliefs, which means that Palin is certainly going to overlook gays, pro-choice women and minorities of all colors. I want someone with global values in the Oval Office: Someone who honestly cares for and looks out for the happiness and rights of EVERYONE, not just those who come to her Tupperware parties. As much as I love my own mother, I would never want her running the country, because there is so much in the world that she chooses not to understand due to her limited exposure to the world.

In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi makes a brilliant assessment of American society when he writes, "Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she's a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power.... The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually hvae policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters."

This is what is wrong with America. We don't really give a shit about anything like our own freedom or what's good for our country anymore. We don't mind that civil rights are being eradicated left and right, or that people like Palin would destroy years of hard work on behalf of gay and women's rights; we just want someone who can make sarcastic jokes during their campaign speeches and who looks like someone we might invite throw a good baby shower. Palin, more than ever, demonstrates just how low the American people are willing to sink in their desperate need to feel warm and fuzzy in their own beds at night. In the back of our minds, most of us know that if the shit really hit the fan, Sarah Palin wouldn't be able to handle it, but she gives the APPEARANCE of "normalcy," of someone who is "just like us." And it is that very illusion and fear that will destroy this once-great country that, for all intents and purposes, was created by the very people that Palin and her right-wing cohorts would like to condemn to inequality once and for all.

Palin is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and she will destroy this country if given the chance out of her own narcissistic selfishness--and anyone who votes in favor of the McCain/Palin ticket will be complicit in the destruction of all that was once good about America. If you are straight and vote for McCain/Palin, then I think you seriously need to take a look at yourself and question your bigotry. And if you are gay and vote for McCain/Palin, then, frankly, you need to have your fucking head examined, because your self-loathing will certainly be your own twisted (and deserved) downfall. I get that people want to feel safe, but I ask you: What is it going to take you get America to wake up and smell the bigotry and political deception of this presidential ticket? Are we really that stupid and naive? I really hope to be proven wrong in November, but as of right now, I'm not so sure I have much faith in the capability of the American people to do what's right not just for themselves, but for the rest of the country as well.

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