Politics is like blood sport at our house. We love it. I have a picture of Kennedy as a newborn, sitting in one of those vibrating rocker seats, “watching” Meet the Press with us on a Sunday morning before church. Our kids have embarrassed themselves in social situations by asking friends about political candidates—only to be met with blank stares. During the primary season in 2007 (before Obama and McCain were the nominees), we went to pick up one of Kennedy’s friends. They climbed into our van and started chatting. All of the sudden, it got quiet, so I began to wonder what happened. I said, “Hey, what’s up back there?” and Kennedy said, “Oh, well I just asked Meagan which of the presidential hopefuls she likes the best.” Social fail (for a 10-year-old, right?).
We watch the debates—from both parties. We love it when Saturday Night Live starts doing political segments. And of course, there’s always Jon Stewart (and oh man, when Jon Stewart took down Tucker Carlson on Crossfire, we still watch that for fun sometimes). We’re not big entertainers, but we have a party on Election Night (presidential election years only). I giggle when people say you shouldn’t talk about politics in polite company (whah?).
But I actually didn’t watch any of the GOP convention last night. Although I wanted to see Mia Love’s speech (Hello!—they found an African American woman congressional candidate to speak at the convention!), I just couldn’t stomach it. I’m going to vote for Obama—even though I’m annoyed with him for various reasons (most of which have to do with him not going left enough, which amuses me when I realize that many of my friends and neighbors think we’re on the verge of becoming a communist regime).
I’m not persuaded—at all—by the GOP rhetoric of restoring any kind of American greatness. What do we want to restore? The U.S. is a great country. I am grateful to live here and to be a citizen. I am especially grateful for all the forward progress we have made in a couple hundred years . . . and I look forward to us making much, much more progress. There is work to do.
But I don’t see much to restore. I’m not interested in looking back to a time when the U.S. was less progressive, when we were content (even proud, at times) to discriminate against women, Native Americans, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, immigrants from all stripes (Irish, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, etc.), you get the picture. I’m well past ready for us to be more—not less—progressive in terms of rights for LGBTQ people.
This week, on August 26, we marked the 92nd anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. This summer, we visited the Seneca Falls National Park, so that whole issue is fresh in my mind. I read some statistics about voting patterns and was disappointed to learn that only 66% of women voted in the 2008 presidential election. This election feels like a particularly important one for women. Leading lawmakers in our country are debating some ideas that feel like crazy pants to me. When I see (or hear or read) political candidates—mostly men—debating women’s reproductive rights, I start to break out into hives. This is serious business, people. We are debating issues of life and death—and quality of life—for all Americans.
So, I’m curious—do you vote? What do you do if you feel, as many do, that you’re voting between the lesser of two evils? Do you stay home on Election Day, or do you plug your nose and pick a candidate? Does the idea of restoration motivate you? That’s a non-starter for me.
Does this election feel more or less important to you than others and why?