Style? Substance? Stability? Bueller?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:14 am

Brownsox over at Daily Kos had a great piece today about why he cast his vote for Hillary Clinton, and I found myself agreeing with him almost completely. I’m really torn about the question of who to vote for, and will probably not make up my mind until the #2 graphite touches down on the mail-in ballot.

It’s hard to argue with the main thrust of Obama’s campaign; the idea of change. Numbed by war, steeped in debt, reviled yet feared by much of the world, how can the American public be expected to do anything but stomp their feet at shout “Yee-HAW!” at the idea of a tidal shift in the vector of our nation? And yet, this may be as good a time as any to remind oneself that change can be good or bad. It depends on the change.

Sometimes it’s really hard to remember that, once you’ve stripped away all the window-dressing, Clinton’s and Obama’s goals for the nation are not terribly, cosmically different. Obama may have been against the (stupid, stupid) war in Iraq from the beginning, but that doesn’t mean that he would unilaterally and instantaneously evacuate our military from operations there upon taking the oath of office, any more than President Hillary would use her inauguration to exuberantly pledge our troops to another ten years in the desert. On health care, both candidates want a form of quasi-nationalized health insurance, with coverage portability, incentives for businesses to contribute to the health care of their employees, and stronger government oversight of health care quality, access and affordability. Both Obama and Clinton have similar—and frankly, similarly vague—plans to rework the quagmire that is our current immigration law. They both support similar policies regarding the environment and energy independence, with cap-and-trade systems for reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (boo), combined with mandatory increases in fuel efficiency and heavy subsidies for development of clean alternative energy sources (yay). Given their similarities, I think either would make a good President.

(Then again, as brownsox put it so eloquently, I would vote for, work for and donate to a can of Seagram’s ginger ale if it were on the Democratic ticket this fall.)

But for all of their similarities, Obama is the one who commands my attention. He brings across the message of inclusion and, dare I say it, hope, with flair and a sense of dedication to his cause. His skills as an orator are unrivaled in this race. He manages to make everything he says in his speeches sound extemporaneous, as though the words occurred to him only just then. (I still can’t get over how many people seem to think of our current Prez as a “straight shooter” chiefly because he has a mouth full of marbles. I’d like to think that the average conservative in this country is capable of less binary intellectual transactions than, “Bill Clinton is a great public speaker and I hate Bill Clinton; George W Bush talks like a Golden Retriever with ADD, therefore I love George W Bush.” But the anti-intellectual sentiment in this country seems fairly thick at the moment.)

By contrast, everything Hillary says seems to have been read off a TelePrompTer; it’s intelligent, it’s eloquent, but it has no real heart to it. Obama has Presence. And, by extension, Presidence.

But dammit, I don’t want to be swept off my feet by some smooth talker. Even if he is by all accounts fantastically intelligent. Even if he does seem to represent the diametric opposite of the same old ossified Repu shit we’ve been clawing our way through for the last seven years. Even if it would be almost excruciatingly fun to watch the conservative infosphere implode as it tried to discover the magic turn of phrase that would allow its warlocks to cast their evil spells without revealing themselves as racist. Even if there’s something just so fucking cool about the idea of driving a stake into the—well, maybe not the heart, but at least the spleen, maybe—of institutionalized white privilege by electing a black man to the highest office of the land, and what that might say to the rest of the world about just how far we’ve come.

Oh dear: I’ve gone and ranted about it until it sounds like a good idea again.

But while all that sounds almost irresistibly yummy, I have to remind myself again that this may be the time for some more basic, reliable fare; a nice healthy bowl of soup instead of the surf and turf. I think Clinton is highly intelligent, quick-witted, and dedicated. She seems to share my views on many topics vital to the health of the nation. To be honest, I think that I would probably like the overall tone of her presidency better than that of her husband’s.

With Hillary, I’m pretty sure of what I’m going to get, and at a time when just about everything else seems in flux, that kind of assurance isn’t to be taken lightly. Even if it’s sure to come with a heaping side order of some of the nastiest partisan rancor in the history of modern American politics.

And it’d still be a helluva milestone. The first female President of the United States is no small achievement. You go girl, indeed. 😀

My ballot is sitting on the desk in front of me, gazing up expectantly. I wish I knew what I’m going to tell it.

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