Wednesday, November 5, 2008

reappearing with politics

it's been a long time, because of developments in my personal life, and the attempt to write my phd project papers (which i'll address in some posts pretty soon.)

but for now, i wanted to (like i'm sure everyone else) talk about the elections, because i think that what's happening is really weird. i'm glad that obama won - i think it's pretty awesome for a lot of reasons. he validates a spirit of idealism - inexperience wins because it has good ideas. the race issue is pretty incredible; it's strange to think about how terribly important the man's face is now and will continue to be. his family, too. he validates also intellectualism - he was a professor, which is lovely and perhaps what i find the most inspiring, in the face of the kind of anti-intellectualism the country's been facing. and watching it, thinking about it, i felt it - the electricity, the adrenaline.

so yes - yay obama.

but i also think it's interesting what this has done to politics in america. sure, it's galvanized a lot of young voters -- into a tremendous and efficient political machine. and perhaps that's the only way to get things done. but i wonder how many of those kids would have been commies and anarchists, otherwise. i wonder how many of them would have voted for third parties. the whole platform of change - it's great, and i think that some changes will certainly be made. but this is not the bloodless revolution that a lot of people are making it out to be. we have the same broken parties, the same broken system, and the same broken country as we had before. it's just that now most of the people who call for change think that change has occurred - "yes we did" - and now they can go home, or perhaps volunteer to support the "new" system. i honestly don't think that, in the very long term, this system is sustainable, in its previous or in its soon-to-be incarnations. this election is a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart... of a dying patient. it's beautiful, it's powerful. but i wonder, how much longer?

the inherent racism in a lot of the coverage is kind of disturbing, but not my main problem: still, though, an anecdote.. Watching NBC's coverage last night, as the cameras were showing group after group of voters, one commentator said something that can be distilled to: "look at all those black faces.... and white faces too, there are white faces too. we truly have overcome race problems in america." the fact that those faces distilled down to just black and white (to say nothing of the absence of other colors ) is disturbing, but it is truly terrifying that this is what we call "transcending race."

the lack of uproar over what could be the passage of proposition 8 in california, along with similar measures in arizona and florida, is also kind of incredible. seems that in a lot of the liberal blogs i've looked at (salon, daily kos, huffpo, etc) it's a sidebar if addressed at all - "oh, by the way, it's awful how gays and lesbians cannot marry. but at least obama won! that will make everything ok, right?" the attitude of hope extends to these measures - young people mostly voted against it, so it's just a matter of time, and we don't need to worry too much now. i spent some time this morning talking to a friend who is moving (in a completely work-determined decision) to join her girlfriend in california soon. i was trying to look for silver linings, of some sort - making what is actually a similar argument to the one that white supremacists are making about obama's election: perhaps this is actually good, because it will make people conscious of this issue, force a crisis, so there will be a revolution. "great," she said. "so maybe in another fifty years. yeah. that's comforting. great." obama himself says in his acceptance speech: "It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference. It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states." yeah, right. the fact that so many people are crowing over this "historical" election that changes the face of discrimination, that they say means they can now tell their children that anyone can be president, is really utterly absurd and a moment of terribly egregious cognitive dissonance when there's a footnote in small print: we included gay, but we don't really mean it - not only can you probably not be president for a long, long time, you don't even get the same basic rights as other people.

perhaps the most problematic thing, though, is the measure in arkansas, which i desperately hope is overturned by the courts. this is the one that says that unmarried but cohabiting individuals cannot adopt or foster children. i hardly know where to start. there is the fact that the measure actually states "unmarried cohabiting sexual partners," which means that the state needs to know whether or not you're having sex, and with who, in order to determine your fitness to raise a child. it means that if you, like an increasing population of happily married couples, live apart from your chosen partner, you may raise an adopted child with him or her, but if you wish to live together you may not. it means that if you remain unmarried to your long term partner for tax reasons, you may not adopt a child. and of course, it means that if you wish to have a child with your partner, you can have one, but it will not technically belong to both of you, and you'll have to push it out yourself or hire a surrogate, even if you'd rather not add to the population crisis. that anyone could vote for such a thing bespeaks the worst kind of bigoted selfishness - keeping an adoptive or foster child from a loving home not just because of the sexual orientation of its parents, who are denied the ability to marry, but also anyone who decides not to marry for any reason. it blows my mind, it really does.

hopefully soon i'll have some things to say about the forms that rhetoric took in this election and what that says about the state of the educational system. until then.

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