Earlier today I puttered on down to the delightfuly named W. H. Kiester Elementary School, conveninetly located right along the shortest route between my house and the big JMU Parking Deck, and cast my vote for Barack Obama. Fearing long lines I brought with me the new issue of Magic magazine, expecting to have some time to read.
As it turned out, I was pretty much the only one there. Presumably things will liven up after work, but I coasted right through. Felt cheated. Now I am sitting in my office, killing time until my 3:30 calculus class, and looking forward to watching the returns tonight (no doubt flipping over occasionally to the USA Network to check up on the House marathon.)
It is absolutely beyond me how this race can still be competitive. How does any mentally healthy person look at the last eight years, compare the two campaigns, and decide that McCain is the better choice to lead the nation?
In this election cycle things have been about as good for the Democrats as they could possibly be. On every major policy issue Bush has been shown to be a complete failure. In the last few weeks the campaign has been dominated by one major policy issue, the economy, that plays right into Democratic strengths and Republican weaknesses. The Obama campaign has been a model of discipline and clarity, hammering a few major themes and exuding calm and confidence. The McCain campaign, on the other hand, has been one long gaffe. Starting with his disastrous choice of Sarah Palin, moving on to his desperate-for-a-gimmick responses to the economic crisis, and concluding with his willingness to hurl any smear he could think of at Obama, the McCain campaign will go in the textbooks right alongside Dukakis '88 as a model of how not to handle an election.
But the race is still competitive.
If the polls are to be believed Obama is in good shape, He is likely to win. But this is by no means over. This isn't Dole '96, where the election returns were just a formality. As I always say, this is fundamentally a right-wing country.
Changing the subject, I think I could tolerate McCain winning as long as Al Franken wins in Minnesota. That one would make me very happy. And it looks like the odious Elizabeth Dole will go down as well. Guess I'll just have to wait for the returns...
This is what worries me about Obama's chances - the fact of the matter is that a huge proportion of the American electorate is absolutely idiotic. McCain has nothing going for him - he is from an unpopular party, he is associated with a deeply unpopular President, his campaign has been all gaffes and mudslinging, the policies he advocates have been shown to be failures, he routinely seems to not know what he's talking about, and his Vice Presidential pick is a lipstick wearing disaster.
YET McCain still has a decent chance of winning this thing! It is as if there is literally something wrong psychologically with a large part of the American electorate.
I'm slowly working my way through the "Beyond Belief" videos (you should really check them out, interesting stuff). In one talk, the presenter broke down the different categories that people use for ethics and morality, among them are (from memory) group cohesion, country and solidarity. To this person, laws which create a tight in-group and promote an America First style of governance is moral, ethical and right. This isn't just about national politics but on all levels of social interaction - pegs which stick out should be flattened, diversity is a problem, individuals are less important than the group. These are the people that look at "Change" as something to be feared, diversity of opinion as something which weakens us and ultimately destroys the very thing which makes America America.
These values are almost non-existent in liberals and academics and I know they're totally foreign to me. However if you understand that some large number of Americans think this way, it makes sense that seek a president who will try to achieve a glorious groupthink, uh, socially-cohesive country as desirable. They aren't idiotic and they aren't brain-dead (though I suspect they are generally ignorant and prone to cognitive dissonance), they just have different values.
The part that I find especially ironic is that these people are the ones who are most likely to shout "Better Dead than Red" and other jingoistic crap while in America but it's the same style of thinking & values that led to the worst aspects of Soviet Communism. I think they seek strong leadership and conformity, no matter what the price. Since these people are concentrated in specific geographic areas I don't think this is genetic and can be changed but it's going to be a struggle.
Seconded the video recommendation above.
1) When people think "In God We Trust" is more American than E Pluribus Unum, it's not so hard to see them liking an all or nothing, good or evil candidate.
2) But the killer, you should pardon the expression, is the politically unacceptable issue of race. It can't be used publically, but it sure can be privately, and many people can't tolerate the idea of a black man being president. Why do you think they came up with such silly and ad homienum attacks on Obama? Why? Because they couldn't say what they felt in public.
Obama would win by ten to twenty more points difference if he were from a two white family.
E Pluribus Unum
Magic Magazine? What kind of Magic are you interested in!? The tricky type, the card game type or some other kind of magic!?
Happy Election Day all
That same (to me) weird values structure still leads some people to think of Dubya as a "basically good person" who made "mistakes." Valuing loyalty above integrity, which has been the cause of so much trouble in the presidency from Nixon to Bush, is seen by them to be a virtue, not a crippling personality disorder.
So "How does any mentally healthy person look at the last eight years, compare the two campaigns, and decide that McCain is the better choice to lead the nation?" They convince themselves, based on a paleolithic moral code, that Republican talking points about "riskiness" and "experience" have some validity, and policies that will continue to destroy the country are not as important as "values," defined in their own bizarre way.
I like all kinds of magic, but sleight of hand with cards is my favorite. I've only just started subscribing to the magazine though. This was my first issue!
Ha! was interested in your reference because I also got started in magic about 3 months ago - mainly coins and a bit of cards. And now i'll have to subscribe to the mag as well! And wouldn't it be kind of fun to have Magic magazine advertising on your site? The irony!
So, Jason, you like House MD. Do you think there's anyway I could email you a copy of my new song, Going Gay For House?
You're a liberal, math professing, magician. Could you possibly be any more awesome. I wish we had spoken a bit more tonight, but I am glad to have met you.
Few people have the luxury of having blogs recommended to them by the bloggers themselves.
Thank you very good