Saturday, November 08, 2008

What's New

Beyond the obvious (I voted for him) there's another reason why I'm glad Barack Obama won.

Unlike McCain, Obama ran a campaign without mudslinging, free of dirty tricks. He focused on issues and specifically what he wanted to do if elected, rather than on cynical publicity stunts to impress his party's base and the base in all of us. He treated his listeners as if they were intelligent adults rather than easily frightened children.

Part of our basic moral code as humans is that if you are honest and play fair, you will be rewarded. But such sentiments have no place in politics where it seems those who win are those most clever at deceit and manipulation and are willing to sacrifice anything in their pursuit of power. But every once in a while, I need to see the triumph of those who play fair.

When McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate and subsequently received a rise in the polls (not a double-entendre), the Obama campaign played it smart. Rather than attack her, they bided their time and let her self-destruct as it soon became apparent that, chuztpah aside, she was not qualified for high office.

Watching someone take the high road can sometimes be frustrating. Whenever William Ayers' name was brought up, I thought "why aren't the Democrats making more about Palin's husband belonging to a secessionist organization as recently as two years ago?" Everytime Obama or Biden had to pay lip service to John McCain as a great American, only to be met with McCain's barely hidden contempt and Palin's sarcasm, I wondered "when are they going to stop praising their opponent? That can't be helping." But Obama had to play it cool. Any display of anger or extreme emotion (think of Howard Dean's yell) might have branded him as the Scary Angry Black Man -- lock up the women and children! -- and the election would have been over. It must have been difficult for him at times.

You could argue that Obama never had to play dirty since he was leading in the polls since mid-September; that McCain's tactics were born of desperation (as McCain claimed "if he had just agreed to my proposed town hall meetings, I wouldn't have had to go negative"). But after the last eight years, it's nice to make decisions based on hope rather than fear or despair. Fear is a legitimate reaction in life, but it is not healthy for individuals or societies to live that way for long. Hope and the belief that we can make things better is the more psychologically healthy way to live. Perhaps now we can have the paradigm shift that should have occurred on September 12, 2001 but did not. I'm horrified by all that's happened to bring us to this state (as The Onion puts it: "Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress") but for the first time in eight years, I feel as if being good has triumphed over being cynical.


Iva said...

Hi, Hon,
It's your dumb mother again...what is a successionist organization?
Every time I read one of your blogs I need a dictionary beside me.

the hanged man said...

You're not dumb, but your son's spelling is atrocious. The word was actually "secessionist" (since corrected) and referred to the fact that Todd Palin belonged to the Alaska Independence Party, which, in 2006, sponsored a ballot initiative calling for Alaska to secede from the United States.

Todd Palin was no longer a registered member of the party at that point. However, Sarah did address the group at one of their conventions and said (albeit vaguely) that she supported their goals.

More recent, and politically speaking, more damning than being on a council with someone who had been a Weatherman three decades ago.

erin said...

Regarding your post: I was reading a post on Gawker about how Obama's ego helped win him the Presidency, and I was struck by this quote: ". . .what I want around me are people who are calm, who don’t get too high and don’t get too low, because that’s how I am." I really think that was the attitude that won him the election.