UPDATE: If you read this entry before Monday morning, it has since be altered.
Nearly two years and abundant drama later, it is hard to believe that this long, grueling presidential campaign is nearing its close. It seems like just yesterday I was leading the Hillary brigade before watching votes that she had won being taken away from her by our crude and corrupt political system, hence slicing my (and so many others’) hopes of a Hillary White House. But such things are in the past. And so, before spending my Tuesday morning standing in a line, a few closing comments.
If you know me then you know that I am a person before I am a Democrat or a Republican (or a Christian or a Buddhist or a Formalist…). And if you know me, you also know that I never liked Barack Obama. I believe to this day that he was lucky to win the nomination. (Aside from the fact that Hillary was unjustifiably forced to concede half of her votes in Michigan and Florida…votes that would have won her the nomination), Obama did not run a very good primary campaign, and he was toppled by the Clinton campaign in nearly aspect. That is, except in popularity. The world became swept up in this phantasmal storm of fresh energy and vitality, reveling in his certain je ne sais quoi, all the while ignoring the fact that he was quite vague and undeveloped in terms of policy. The aesthetic and the pragmatic must work in unison, but for the Obama campaign it was all about the former. This is what bothered me so much about Obama supporters and indeed sparked many an argument. What is he going to do? What is he about? Questions that were never answered.
That is, until his campaign for the general election. To note, I do not believe that Obama’s campaign since nomination has been as transformative as we were led to believe in the primary campaign; nor do I believe that he has truly situated himself as the “anti-politician.” His campaign has been dirty and it has struck hard with acute, pointed words. We talk often (too often) about John McCain (we’ll get to him in a bit) and how he resorted to invoking fear, linking Obama’s name with danger. However, we do not talk about how Obama has done the same, to a slightly different degree. Barack Obama has campaigned on the notion that we are in danger if we elect John McCain president. While McCain links Obama to Bill Ayers, Obama links McCain to George Bush–a greater terrorist than Ayers ever was.
So as to not draw confusion here: I believe Barack Obama has run the most sound campaign, perhaps, in history. It is truly awe-invoking to watch his machine function…and function without flaw, without misstep. Forget the fact that the man can talk (because the man can talk), he and his staff spent historical amounts of money (and spent it wisely); they have gathered an exorbitant number of volunteers to set up bases in his name all over the country; he kept his mouth shut when he needed to, and spoke up when he needed to (and always, always said the right thing); he laid out straightly his beliefs and policy directives (and stuck with them); he chose the right Vice Presidential candidate for the right reasons. All in all, the strategy that he and his staff set up has been smart and bold, and has been executed flawlessly. From the day he was nominated, Obama’s campaign has done absolutely nothing wrong and absolutely everything right. This is why I’m voting for him on Tuesday. Because he proved to me that he was not all about aesthetic, and that he would reach into the stars and pull down Saturn to make this thing work. There’s aesthetic for you. He has run a straightforward, honest, and legitimately cogent campaign.
In complete and utter contrast, John McCain has run one of the worst presidential campaigns in United States history. It’s not that it has been a weak campaign like, say, John Kerry’s in 2004; but instead has been one of indecisiveness (like, say, John Kerry’s in 2004…), abhorrent and shameful tactic, lying, idiocy, and mind-numbingly poor choices. I remember talking to Rebecca on the day McCain announced Sarah Palin as his VP choice. She was quick to hand him the White House. I, however, proclaimed it to be a historically massive risk–one that would either win him the presidency (and win it big), or lose him the presidency (and lose it big). How quickly the carelessness of that choice further destroyed his campaign. There was only one point where I let my skepticism wane towards fear–directly during and after the Republican National Convention. But I should have known better; conventions are all about the clamor. They don’t mean a thing. At that point in the process it became anybody’s game to lose, and McCain jumped quick at that chance to lose it. (That is not to say that he will. Forget the polls, look at the facts: John McCain can easily win this election.)
The saddest part of it all, no matter who wins on Tuesday, is that John McCain, once an honorable man, has run the most dishonorable campaign in decades. We all know his war stories, yes, but let’s not ignore the fact that he has been a very respectable senator for two decades, unafraid to resist the streamline, to stand up for what his beliefs and his morals no matter what ire he drew. Indeed he did once live up to his now-obliterated title of ‘maverick’ (there’s a word I’m sick of hearing). However, in this presidential campaign, John McCain has revealed himself to either be nothing more than a weak-willed, craven pawn to the Republican party, or a contemptuous, dithering, impulsive politician. Whichever it is, I don’t want it as my president. The John McCain of 2000 was a man worthy of respect, a man worth voting for. As recently as 2007 McCain was quick to stymie the blatantly racist questions he faced in New Hampshire regarding the Mexican border. He still stood up for what he believed in then. Now, however, John McCain may have cost himself the presidency through his waywardness and blunder. He may have cost himself the presidency through disgraceful character attacks, the likes of which have not been seen since the nebulous character defacement days of Nixon. He may have cost himself the presidency for failing to properly acknowledge the level of importance and severity of these dire days. He may have cost himself the presidency by failing to show any of the tenaciousness and repute he once adorned like armor into battle. He may have cost himself the presidency through showing America clearly that he is not a man capable or worthy of just that–the presidency. In these days of fear and confusion, John McCain did nothing but instigate and promote greater fear and confusion.
No one really knows who the better president would be. Come inauguration day, nothing done up to that point will continue to matter. The sad truth of it all is that this country is fucked any way you look at it. It is, however, Barack Obama who I feel has the better chance of making it “less fucked.”
All that said, I do not need remind you all to vote on Tuesday. I will make a rather bold statement here: Though it is not constitutionally proper of me to say, I ask that you NOT vote if you don’t know what you’re voting for. This election is paramount in the future of this planet. How easily it can be obscured by un-informed, ignorant votes. And, yes, such votes add up. Especially in such a close election, the scales so easily tip. Whomever it is you choose, please know in your heart and mind that it is for the right reasons. These two men are not the same; in fact, they are drastically different. Hence, we’re looking at two different futures. Do not run towards one blindly.
And, as if you needed more motivation to vote: Free Starbucks.