Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The end of "none of the above"

It was back in February that a thought first occurred to me: I wouldn't be upset if either Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John McCain won the presidency.

Now that Sen. Clinton is out, I feel the same way.

And here's why: at least two of those candidates have high cross-over potential. We in Michigan preferred McCain over Bush in 2000 because of the help of state Democrats, and there are reports of tons of Republicans crossing the red/blue state divide to support Obama.

Now that's cool. Take, on the other hand, the 2004 (or 2000, or 1996) campaigns, where partisan divisions ran deeper than the Hatfields versus the McCoys.

Are we reaching a point in this country where we're attracted to people who aren't so divisive? Are we ready to really bring the country together, instead of appealing to some primary-colored base? Are we ready to get some shit done? Or is this what politicians need to do to survive in our age of hyper-cynicism?

It could be that the folks still running are respectable enough that considerations could go either way. I know I feel it. If McCain were elected, I wouldn't be looking forward to the 2012 election as a solution - not like I would if, say, Romney had slicked his way into the nomination.

On the other side, how can a Democrat not be proud of what Obama's done? My grandma was in near tears at the prospect of electing a black man to president during her lifetime. "And I remember riding on the bus on the way to Florida in the 1950s, when they had to sit in the back," she told me. Part of me feels prouder of our country because we can talk less about a politician's race and more about his "experience" or "substance."

Things may change and November creeps closer. Who knows? The ugliness could come roaring back. But until then, I think there's a real loss of the "none of the above" feelings we've had since 2000. Think about it. Was anyone that excited about Bush vs. Gore? Not until after the election night, when all hell broke loose. Then people got passionate.

In 2004, it was the same story: people picked the person they disliked the least. Is that any way to vote for president?

This time. something has changed. Yes, the candidates offer starkly different ideas about how to govern and run our country. But if Obama suddenly turnes into a salivating, baby-eating hunchback, I'd be just fine with voting for McCain. And if McCain starts ordering e-mails containing launch codes, Obama will be my man with pride.

These men offer vastly different ideas about governing our country, and there's no doubt which way my vote will go. It wasn't always this way, but recent events - like McCain reversing his stance against offshore drilling - have made the difference even clearer.

But he's still a cool guy.

"There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern," McCain said the Tuesday night Obama clinched the nomination. "If I'm elected president, the era of the permanent campaign of the last sixteen years will end. The era of reform and problem solving will begin."

We've heard words like that before, but coming from Sen. McCain, my first instinct is not to break out into hysterical laughter. The guy is different, and he's speaking to something we've all felt: politics is one big PR effort. Maybe this time, though, things are just what they seem. It's hard to imagine either Obama or McCain with some hidden ax to grind - some secret agenda that would mean more money for oil buddies and political offices for golf buddies.

And frankly, I'd trust McCain or Obama's golf buddies over Bush's any day.

Each of the candidates came from an America I can relate to. George Bush didn't; he came from privelege. He's never known want or suffering or struggle. Obama and McCain have, all too well.

There are a lot of people who feel the same way I do. That speaks of good things for our country, and the election. So let's call this the end of the "none of the above" voting philosophy. What do you say?

Monday, June 16, 2008

New adventure?

Perhaps. Only 3 days to get there? No problem.

Gas? That's the problem.