Friday, March 7, 2008

Rhapsodic Rhetoric: A Post on Politics

I typically don’t write about politics on this blog. Maybe it is because I am not nearly as informed as I ought to be (yes, I was a political science major and a lawyer). Or perhaps it is because I hate offending people, and talking about political views is a surefire way to rub readers the wrong way. I suspect it is a combination of the two. However, I can no longer contain my exhilaration. This is the year for which I have longingly awaited eight years – the year in which Americans can begin to emerge from the cloud of shame and disgust that George Bush has brought upon America, as he leaves office and we select another and surely better – regardless of party affiliation – president. I won’t get into why I find Bush to be a disgrace of a president (although eroding the Constitution to a skeletal version of itself while the Framers likely roll over in their graves, does come to mind), but let’s just say that I have been looking forward to a new administration.

The thing is, though, I have been torn about my allegiance to either of the remaining Democratic candidates. You see, I have never been a fan of Hillary Clinton because something about her always struck me as . . . un-kosher. I can’t pinpoint it and I don’t know why Bill Clinton didn’t strike me the same way, but I just always thought that there is more to her than she lets on, and I wonder how it will come back to haunt her in the general election or even in the White House. Or perhaps it is as simple as – even though her gender has never consciously influenced me – that on a subconscious level I want to be able to relate to her as a woman yet I find her to be a bit distant.
So it would reason that I would immediately favor Barack Obama, the charismatic hope-inspirer, advocate of change in Washington, with a seemingly open-book past. And I have to admit that I am impressed by his discourse, and I do find myself inspired by his speeches. So then why is it that over the past several weeks and months I find myself rooting for Hillary? Why was I so disappointed in her performance on Super Tuesday and ever so grateful that she pulled out ahead in Texas and Ohio this week? In part I think it is because I always favor the “underdog;” in part it is because lately I find her vulnerable – if only politically – and somehow I relate to that.

Most of all, though, I think it has to do with the Obama bandwagon. If I actually look beyond the inspirational speeches, I am not sure whether I am convinced of his abilities or even his alleged liberal views (his health reform plan does not include universal health care; he has little foreign policy experience; and relies on right-leaning economic advisers). And I find myself exasperated that many of those who have jumped on his bandwagon have done so, I suspect, without really assessing his views on the issues and his plans for the future, because they have been taken in by his rhetoric. In fact, Obama’s grandiloquence is strangely reminiscent of Ronald Reagan, who fooled Americans by speaking eloquently while slyly eroding government and social policies.

So maybe the thing I like about Hillary is that I trust her even though I don’t trust her. I like that she is not likeable off the bat, and doesn’t necessarily inspire through words. I like that my guard is already up with her a bit, because she is distant and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise, but that I know her liberal views – they are clear after years of public service. She has the desire to actually help middle-class Americans, and the experience to actually make changes.

And in deciding between the two candidates, I suppose it comes down to this: I like Hillary because of what she stands for, not how eloquently she speaks. And it would be a damn shame for her to lose the presidency, and for the American people to lose her, simply because we were again taken in by empty dissertations and great oratory.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rupal, welcome back! I'm glad you're back in the country - I missed reading your blog while you were away. And now I'm back, I can actually catch up on what everyone's been doing!!

This is a great post. I have been loosely following the election news (without fully understanding the process or knowing the background of all the players)and its definitely an interesting race. I don't know much about Obama, other than that he is charismatic and I see your point about the experience and proven track record of Hilary Clinton. I know what you mean about her seeming a bit cold and distant - she does come across that way, but it's a shame that personality is such a big factor. Running the country isn't about being a nice person, it's about making the best decisions, which sometimes will be unpopular ones.

I think it's amazing and fantastic that there is a very real chance the next President will be a woman or an African American and either way (in my opinion) its going to make a huge cultural and psychological difference to the US domestically and to how it is viewed internationally. But I do worry that some supporters (for both candidates) might be caught up in reaching that racial or gender milestone and overlooking the important policy issues.

Absolutely, a person of ANY race or gender can and should be president, but most importantly it should be the best person for the job. That probably sounds a bit idealistic for modern politics, but I can still hope that people make the right decisions for the right reasons!

And you're definitely not alone celebrating the end of the GW Bush era!!!! We recently got rid of his buddy in Australia after 12 long years and the change in national sentiment (for the better) is wonderful.

Rupal said...

Thanks, Guera. I'm still catching up on you as well. I feel like I have missed so much!

It has been an interesting election season, and I agree that many people may pick their candidate based on race or gender, which is a real shame. My perception, which is really based on nothing real, is that this tends to favor Obama and hurt Clinton (at least in the northeastern part of the US where I am from). I don't think it should be a factor at all but I suppose that is not realistic - we probably all have our unconscious biases and preferences. But I suppose either way the next guy or gal can't be worse than what we've got now!