Forgive the rather unwieldy and crude medium by which I choose to address you. However unlikely it is that you’ll actually read this message, I felt it would have a better chance of completing it’s intended journey from an open internet forum than at the bottom of a White House mail bin.
Firstly, congratulations on one of the most decisive electoral victories I’ve seen in my lifetime. In terms of clear mandates, yours is nearly transparent. Also, Obama victory parties had way better weed than McCain parties would have, so thanks for a great Tuesday.
I should begin by explaining precisely why you did not receive my vote. Ironically or understandably, depending on your political persuasion, it is much the same reason John McCain did not receive my vote. It is certainly not a referendum on you as a thinker, orator, or campaigner. It is also not a referendum on Senator McCain as an able and moderate member of the government for many years. In fact, as I’d written earlier, I am still of the belief that both the Republicans and the Democrats succeeded in putting their absolute best candidates forward during this election.
No sir, it was a statement on the nature of BOTH your parties, whom you have the unfortunate duty to represent to the world at large. For as long as I’ve been alive, the Republicans have drawn support from religious fanatics whose presence in this society quite frankly makes me uncomfortable. The Democrats meanwhile, have carried the banner of an economic and cultural policy born in the leftism of American academia. This is an environment that seems to lean toward a British-modelled Orwellianism just as frightening as anything Pat Robertson could dream up, only with less Jesus. Once upon a time, I could take comfort in that at least the Republicans favored LESS government with which to attempt to impose their will on me. But the last eight years have proved that even Republicans can raid the Treasury, or in this case run up the Federal credit line. BOTH parties are capable of limited-engagement unpopular foreign wars with ambiguous goals, though I will give you a Democrats sense of SCALE on the matter is generally smaller.
ABOVE: WAR UNDER DEMOCRATS
In short, I’ve seen a series of back-to-back catastrophes on the Presidential level, and until someone proves to me that they can do well in spite of the party they’re attached to, then both said parties can seek a vote elsewhere. In other words, my vote is up for grabs every election, and I’d like to tell you how you can impress me enough to secure it for a 2012 re-election. I know this is one man’s opinion, but I feel it’s statistically safe to say I’m not the only one thinking this at the moment.
First of all, I’m a rational person. My expectations of your office aren’t messianic in nature by any means. To hear some of the fawning tripe out there, half the country expects to have flying cars and health insurance by the end of the first hundred days. I am not that person. So long as you’re not vacationing at a ranch two hundred days out of the year, I can assume that you’re moving as fast as you can.
SEE THIS? DON’T DO THIS.
But move you must, obviously. And the question on punditry’s collective blabbering lips everywhere has been: Move how? My question, and the point of this posting, is this: Will you be the centrist you promised everyone during the election?
Much has been made from your campaign staff about “governing from the center”. Your affinity for Lincoln’s method and idolization of the “Team Of Rivals” model is well noted. And considering your initial pick for Secretary Of State, it looks as though you may on some level be adopting the same policy. This is a good sign.
My concern, as a moderate, is that the party you represent may take advantage of your presence to push forward an agenda just as extreme on the left-hand path as the one everyone feared while strolling down the right-hand path these past eight years. Their vehement push to get government assistance to the utterly failed auto industry bespeaks this sort of cronyism and agenda-based governing. I do understand the unions helped you get elected, but on that issue I would implore you to inject some common sense into the argument at your first available opportunity. I did not approve when seven hundred billion dollars went to stabilizing CEO paychecks, and I will approve even less if some of it is allocated to an industry whose crown jewel of innovation is the Chevy Aveo.
I’M SUPPOSED TO SUBSIDIZE CRAP WITH A HATCHBACK OPTION?
These are the kinds of moves that are going to drive the moderate base of this country away from supporting your initiatives in other areas. On many issues, you and I are in agreement for reasons that are rational and cohesive. The Gitmo detention facility is an international embarrassment of the first caliber. Shut it down. I can and do receive government car insurance, I may as well have access to your health insurance, too. If you get your sights on Bin Laden, take the shot. No one REALLY cares what Pakistan thinks about the matter. And fund stem cell research till the cows come home. I have Parkinson’s and ALS in my family history, and I’d like to live.
I don’t expect you to wave a magic wand to revive the economy. I don’t even expect you to pull us out of Iraq, as I think you know doing so too precipitously would cause more trouble than going in did. I would like to see a moderate, RATIONAL approach to the central issues of our age without having to let Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank conduct a hippie love-in on the Senate floor. I know as the chief executive you only have so much power on domestic issues, but… they’re listening to you, sir. They’re ALL listening.
And so am I. If a Presidential candidate can actually turn into the President he portrayed himself as during the campaign, THAT would be change I can genuinely believe in. What sent my vote to a third party candidate was my inability to believe that either you OR John McCain would turn out to be what they said they were. With the election over, I can impart on its victor the honest desire that you will prove my cynicism wrong. Please be the moderate you promised. Please be the President we need.
Hail To The Chief…
- Paris ‘Rev’ Battle
It seems the bards of our media age are all singing in perfect harmony before the eve of the Election of 2008. And indeed, this is a storied hour. The longest so-called “cycle” since the horrifically long Senate fiasco of the Late Roman Republic in 72 BC is now drawing to a close. It was an epic tale, periodically even prompting my own internet-spewed two cents worth, which has paraded and stomped its way across every form of human communication for seemingly countless months. And the gods alone know what our country will look like in the next 24 hours.
As alluded to, the screaming chorus of our informed media has reached a near-universal common pitch in their election swan song. And, quite frankly, it sounds like they’re proclaiming the second coming of a completely neutral and non-religious though nevertheless messianic figure guaranteed not to offend anyone (sorry, death threats again).
Here, let me just give you an example:
REALLY? I MEAN, REALLY?
In all fairness, that’s from the end of the primaries, but it’s a sentiment that pretty much spread when the journalist set got over their Hillary-despair. If you don’t pull a check from Rupert Murdoch, you pretty much want this guy to either win the election AND/OR father your love children. I was going to make an Anderson Cooper joke here, but my blind Tuvan manservant said it might be offensive.
So far as analysis of the situation goes, their celebration seems by every measure to be inevitably appropriate. Virtually every poll, old and new, shows Obama in a runaway. Except when they don’t. It looks like the key result of the economic crisis (and corresponding cooling of charm vis-a-vis folksy frontier governors) has taken it’s toll on the electorate, prompting an unbreachable acceleration of Obama’s movement toward the White House. The most modest of polling data shows Obama within (if not AT) 270 electoral vote. That’s like a blackjack score where you win the world. Just thirty days ago I predicted here that McCain’s long sought-after unification of the GOP “base” under the Palin banner would seal Obama’s fate. That’s what I get for making predictions more than thirty days out. Though in my defense… Nationalizing all the banks? Man, who would have seen THAT coming?
So, that should be it, really. Since the integrity of the American media is unassailable and beyond reproach, especially on cable, we may as well talk about how blue the map is going to look tomorrow night. I could make the rest of this article about what I think an “Obama America” will look like. After all, never once in ALL of history has the vaunted 4th Estate mislead or misrepresented the will of the American people in ANY capacity, has it?
COME ON, YOU HAD TO SEE THAT COMING.
Well, okay. We can explore the other possibility. I’m almost hesitant to say it honestly, since it runs counter to the truth that everyone’s talking boxes have been going on about. Nevertheless, I’ll venture toward this possibility:
BARACK OBAMA MIGHT LOSE
I know. Breathtaking.
But for the purposes at looking to the other side of this apparent electoral blowout, let us explore a contrary possibility. We’ll play a little game called “if history holds”.
See, because if history holds, McCain will start the evening with a surprise bang as the independents of New Hampshire re-assert their love for the old man. This will have all the talking heads in a tizzy about the possible implications, thus ASSURING that everyone in the country is aware by lunchtime or just past that the first indicator state went red. If history further holds, the incoming barrage from the East Coast isn’t going to do Obama any favors, either. The whole country will learn WHY Virginia has gone red every election since 1964. And a subtle combination of xenophobic white turn-out in north Florida and a weaker-than-expected showing for Obama among Hispanics is about all it would take at this point to lose everyone’s favorite electoral fuck-up state. Obama’s likely built up huge margins to win New York and Pennsylvania, but the first signs of real trouble will come when the results start moving westward.
ABOVE: SOMEONE IN FLORIDA WHO MAY NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA
See if history holds, middle America will still be suffering under a lingering fear of that Hussein in his name and the color of his skin. It’s not that everyone is racist, but enough are to make a statistical difference. In unfortunate concentrations, that’s the sort of force that could swing a lynch-pin state. Michigan is probably going blue, but Ohio might be in trouble. It’s difficult to gauge how well his primary showing there will translate to a national race. By the time it gets much further West, it’d be no surprise that he loses Colorado, even if he does manage to flip New Mexico, Iowa, AND Nevada from red to blue. At this point, even an unqualified showing on the West Coast wouldn’t really help. If history holds.
What are some signs that this might happen? Well, as many are fond of pointing out, Obama’s campaign IS history making. It’s altered the electoral map, it’s altered American’s perception of itself AND the world’s perception of America. It’s brought out more enthusiasm and is expected to bring out more VOTERS than any election in… well, ever I think.
For all those reasons, I think it would be foolish not to assume this candidacy has altered the nature of our polling practices. Never more has communication of facts on the ground been joined by the incessant humming of a billion other forms of media communication. For every story you get in a mass mailer about Obama being a secret Muslim or McCain collaborating with his NVA captors in Nam, you get another 24-hour media blitz about the latest “gaffe” to make all the people who still wear monocles pop them out in shock.
Did anyone ever stop to think that polling data might be gloriously FUCKED because of all this? There’s already the emerging story about most of these polls not including people who are only using cell phones (which is everyone I know, I think). Common sense says that might lead to an even GREATER Obama lead, but I’ll be damned if I’m taking that for gospel. Mix in the unexpected factor of people who’ve said to a pollster YES I’m gonna vote for Obama because it seems like the “in” thing to do, and you have a glorious recipe for misinformation.
There’s also the perpetual Democratic reliance on “the young people coming out in DROVES this time, I SWEAR IT” that perplexes me to no end. College age kids have two underlying and fundamental traits, folks. They love to talk shit, and they hate DOING shit. Obama may have every Facebook page on campus buzzing, but believing that’s going to lead to massive voter turnout from the campuses of the United States is a stretch I’m not willing to make until I see it happen.
VOTING TUESDAY, OR PLAYING HALO? I’LL GIVE YOU THREE-TO-ONE ODDS.
So let me put this in the most succinct way I can manage. For McCain to come out on top tomorrow, he has to defeat the numbers. For Obama to do so, he has to defeat HISTORY.
The good news for Obama, in this scenario, is that he already has experience doing that.
So what’s my final call on the election, after all these months and on the eve of the great event? I honestly see one of two things happening. Either it’s the Obama blow-out everyone is expecting, or it’s going to be a LONG-assed night tomorrow. Fortunately, I have a bottle of whiskey and a television in my bedroom.
My only other word on the matter will come afterward, when I break character, get personal, and tell everyone who I voted for.
Out for now…
- Paris ‘Rev’ Battle
So there we were in a certain universe. The Great Campaign of ’08 was proceeding exactly as all the others, with a very familiar final act unfolding before us all. That is to say both candidates were proceeding to out-dull one another into a submission hold of fatigue and predictable political ploys.
And then, in the midst of this election of Change (TM) something truly remarkable happened. Something actually changed.
And of course by “change” I mean “collapsed on an epic level” and by “something” I mean the United States economy. Not that economy hasn’t been an issue the entire election, but now something has started to happen that has given both candidates an opportunity to rise to the occasion… to take bold uncompromising steps toward leadership as a crisis unfolds in this election’s latter days. And, to their credit, one candidate DID make a slight halfhearted attempt at it.
NONE OF THE REPORTERS REALIZED HOW CLOSE THEY HAD ALL COME TO DEATH THAT DAY.
So with both Obama and McCain trying their best to sound as much like one another (and the polled preferences of the majority of likely American voters), their opinions on the matter are effectively irrelevant. I imagine they’re JUST as irrelevant by phone or in person, in case it matters. The important thing to note is that the immediate state of everyone’s credit and finances is in the hands of the US Federal Government. So really, how can there be anything to worry about? They do such a bang-up job on everything else.
GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY AT WORK
The United States Department of Pulling Numbers Out Their Asses have apparently generated a $700 billion dollar price tag on what is, to my understanding, the economic equivalent of cleaning out an engine and all its filters so it doesn’t blow up on Dead Man’s Curve down by the old Thompson Farm. Except that no one knows if engine gunk is actually the problem. But whatever that problem is, it doesn’t act like anything else that’s ever been solved by conventional means on a car engine, anywhere, any time.
For the average citizen, there are two main responses to this crisis. The first is open sarcasm. As such, here are your Final Four brackets for all the banks in the Free Market. Everyone feel free to start office pools, I’m sure that’s why it was created:
The other path is political action of some sort. And here I have a proposition to my fellow Americans. A proposition as to the path that we can take in the immediate, for we are fortunate enough to have a catastophe too fresh to wear off by Election Day. Allow me to outline my proposal.
For the next few days, and on into forever, you’re going to hear Republicans and Democrats do what they do best: blame each other for shit going wrong.
Since a few Republicans suddenly decided that NOW they were gonna remember the Constitution, it’s already begun. The point-counterpoint that followed as even the President seemed to shrink to irrelevancy only served to further drive home the point that zealots and pricks have taken over Congress.
Mind you, I’m not saying the bailout is a good thing or a bad thing. I find it a CURIOUS thing when one considers a few points. First, the majority of economics experts are predicting something far less dire than people seem to be imagining (myself, at times, among them). The second thing to keep it mind is that if the US taxpayer winds up having to foot this bill, and I honestly don’t see how we’re not gonna get stuck with this, then there’s a HOST of other things $700 billion dollars could be used for that don’t involve a plan that might not even work.
A few examples? Well, $365 billion could fix every collapsing road and every shitty railroad line in the United States. For another $185 billion we could establish BOTH a national health care system and a universal automated health information system, something I was shocked to learn we don’t actually have already (the two groups with the finest communication of respective medical histories in this country are veterans and convicts). That’s $515 billion, and I’m not done. Because if the Gila Bend solar array is any indicator of potential, another $85 billion could conceivably provide power to nearly SIX MILLION US HOMES and that would STILL leave us another $100 billion for the infrastructure necessary to carry that power from the southern deserts to wherever the fuck it needs to go.
It should also be pointed out that these projects all address issues that have ALSO been pestering the United States Congress for several years, each one of them threatening this nation in one way or another. It suddenly becomes very funny how Congress can come up with 700 billion dollars when their rich friends are in trouble.
ONE OF CONGRESS’ NEW LOCAL OFFICES.
The apologists for this bailout will make a big deal about how the government may recuperate all its losses from flipping reams and reams of shitty credit. Because if there’s one thing everybody’s going to rush to do, it’s buy bad loans from the government. They also point out that any one of the ambitious projects I just brought up will DEFINITELY mean a tax increase (which isn’t totally true, but it might). They don’t mention, however, the number of jobs an infrastructure overhaul alone will create, to say nothing of side industries. Definitely a tax, but definitely a return, which is more than we can say for Operation: “Panic And Throw Money At It”.
But regardless how you feel about the plan, one thing we can ALL agree on is the need to do precisely what DIDN’T get done this week. Which is to say, something productive. Maybe the bailout is a better idea, maybe it’s not, but… I don’t know… ISN’T THIS WHAT WE ELECT THESE FUCKERS TO FIGURE OUT?
And so enters my aforementioned humble proposition. I propose, my fellow voters, that we all do something to blow their fucking minds. Something none of their pollsters could POSSIBLY envision. We act like responsible voters. We use our powers of democracy to attack the REAL culprits of government ineptitude in the face of crisis.
We vote against incumbents.
Fuck all if they’re Republicans. Vote Democrat. Democrats? Vote Republican. Or vote third party. Just make a showing against whoever is CURRENTLY in office, and that you’re eligible to vote against. Rush the polls. Toss a bunch of close races the other way, or narrow the margin of a sure-thing enough he or she notices. Send them a message. All of them.
Current economic wisdom says this crisis traces its roots as far back as the mid-1990’s. Now I don’t know the numbers, but I HAVE to guess there are a lot of motherfuckers (and fuckerettes) who have been in the Senate and the House since at LEAST then. I’m talking Republicans and Democrats ALIKE. Maybe it’s time these fine individuals sought work elsewhere.
So fuck it, then. They can’t get their act together, for WHATEVER reason? They ALL let this situation get to this point in the first place. Let’s remind them they work at our pleasure. Let’s make them feel some real “change”.
Out For Now…
- Paris ‘Rev’ Battle