There is a very well known Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." I realize that the "interesting" is euphemistic, but I can't think of anything more inspiring than doing just that, and this election season both North and South of the border are shaping up to be just that - very interesting. I'll leave my thoughts on the Canadian election for another day, and instead hold forth on the goings on below the 49th this evening. As of today the Democrats have just wrapped up their convention in Denver with Barack Obama having announced Joe Biden as his running mate and accepted his party's nomination as Presidential nominee. On the other side, the Republicans are about to kick start their Convention in St. Paul with the news that their front runner John McCain has just announced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. Phew! Interesting times indeed!
Let me just say before I continue any further that I am a bit of a political junkie, but as such I'm more of a watcher, less of a vocal supporter of one side over another. I really love the sport of it, the game, how one move affects another. If I were to describe my personal political stance it would be that of someone who is socially liberal, and fiscally conservative. I don't believe the Government has any business in a nation's bedrooms or their hearts, I think that love is a hard enough commodity to come by in this world of ours without having someone tell you who you can or cannot share your life with as a married person. I believe that Government doesn't have any business in a nation's churches, of course I also feel the opposite is true and feel that religious entities should stop trying to effect influence in the halls of governance. I don't think that gender should play any role in determining your pay grade, nor should your ethnicity stop you from reaching your social goals. On my more conservative side I think that I pay enough taxes and that more of my money in the public coffers won't achieve the fiscal needs of the country as much as the reorganization of the existing funds and their methods of collection. I don't think that taxing my estate comprised of my net worth upon my death is fair - or legal. I also think that time sentenced should be time served, if you do bad things you should go to jail, if you do really bad things you should go to jail for a really long time. I see myself as a pragmatist, as I'm sure most do. I think with my gut as much as anything else, but at least it's my gut. Things are right and wrong and all shades of in between. I think that most people have pretty good moral compasses and are able to determine these subtleties. I know that people are going to have differences of opinion and that's normal. Where I start to get a little less than generous is when we start getting into the extremes, where bile and vitriol are part of the "discussion". Neither sides' extremes do either's middle any favors. When I state that I'm a watcher, this is what I mean, I see both sides points and actions, process them through my moral and intellectual filter and voila!
So there's the preamble and here is the guts of it - what to make of the race so far. Let's start on the Democratic side. First off, this guy is a real breath of fresh air. He's smart, charismatic, and smacks of change, and not just any change, historic change - real and figurative. Between he and Clinton and the potential historic firsts for both of them, it was Obama that felt different, that felt as though he wasn't already part of the White House frequent flier club (probably because one of them still had their old drapes from last time). I like Obama a lot, and I would be very interested to see what he would do as the 44th President of the United States should that become his much vaunted job. The pragmatist in me does see that he hasn't got a lot of experience, but perhaps that's a blessing. I would like people to remember that he is a man at the end of the day and not the second coming, but I suspect he would often like to remind people of the same. I think he's a great speaker and a dreamer - I just hope he has a plan to make those dreams come true. As far as his choice of VP goes, he made a smart choice with Biden, choosing someone who will fill in those gaps in his resume without overshadowing the nominee.
On the Republican side of the see-saw we have a man, who eight years ago was a formidable nominee, a maverick and free speaker who wanted to bring change and a new direction to the GOP. Unfortunately that was nearly a decade ago and since then he has smoothed much of the rough edges and pandered considerably to groups of individuals who eight years ago he had railed against and others whom he had labeled "dangerous". All this led to a man who may have his party's nomination, not having the hearts of a large population of his assumed voters. I do admit that I still respect this man, predominantly as a war veteran and hero, but I am disappointed to see a person who eight years ago I thought may level off his party seem so adrift politically, so dependent on focus groups. Frankly the guy needs to grow a pair back and shoot from the hip again, not tell people what other people have told him they want to hear. His choice of VP is the real reason I wanted to make my first political blog this weekend. Now I realize that today's posting has approached the size of something a deceased Russian man may have written, but I do want to finish with a quick opining on Gov. Palin.
This was the biggest surprise of the election by far, and I mean by far - even more than discovering how hot Dennis Kucinich's wife was! No-one saw this coming. Obama's camp certainly didn't know how to react. Outwardly the trend seems to be dismissal, but I have to question to extent some Democrats have gone in dismissing someone so apparently dismissible. Paul Begala went off on both Palin and McCain on CNN.com. He wrote that in announcing Palin as his running mate McCain had only further proven his lack of fitness for the highest office in the country. He railed on about it. I couldn't help but feeling that if Ms. Palin was so utterly unfit for the job, Mr. Begala should have been ecstatic about her appointment - let them crash and burn! His argument as a liberal to what one could assume was a liberal audience given that it was a liberal opinion piece seemed almost too vehement. Now I'm not saying that I think this was a conservative master stroke, because frankly I don't even know what I think just yet, I'm simply putting forth that she does tick a few boxes for McCain. She doesn't have much experience, but neither does Obama, and while he certainly has more than she, Palin is a Governor which has traditionally been a plus for voters electing Presidents (admittedly not Vice Presidents). She is a woman like Clinton. No, she does not have Hillary's record or experience, and she'll lose female voters over her opposition to abortion, but people forget that conservative voters are also made up of conservative women as much as men. There were plenty of female voters in the middle states who voiced a displeasure about Mrs. Clinton many years ago when Bill was running for the nomination due to her lack of conservatism. Finally she has a very conservative record and may heal some wounds of the neocons. I really have no idea what will happen in the next two months and certainly not on election day. At this point, I have to call it for Obama as he currently has the stronger ticket in my opinion. He has the hearts of so many, the beliefs of so many. He also has that very enticing hope. As they say, "May you live in interesting times." I can't think of anything more interesting than these times.