I’ve usually avoided talking plainly and openly about mainstream politics on this blog. It’s not that I’m not politically-minded. It’s just that I prefer to keep this place lighthearted and upbeat. And well, when you start talking politics….
But despite that, I’m going to go that direction now. I may ramble, so please forgive me.
In the fourth grade I wanted to grow up to be the US ambassador to the U.N. and figure out solutions to all the world’s problems. I planned on convincing the Russians to get together with the Italians to make nuclear powered Lamborghini Countaches instead of missiles. I studied Churchill and Lincoln so I could learn from the good guys. I read Mein Kampf so I could try to understand the bad guys. I browsed through almanacs and atlases like most normal people consume Us Weekly.
This is not to say that I wandered around the library at Wood Elementary with my rose colored glasses held together with Scotch tape and a Bob Dole commemorative pen in my pocket protector. While our Social Studies civics lessons may have told us how the political system was SUPPOSED to work, my politics were shaped just as much by Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Dennis Miller, Johnny Carson and Lewis Grizzard, who once said, “In North Carolina, they put slaw on barbecue and God sent them Jesse Helms as punishment.”
I was well aware that Washington was, is, and likely always will be an absurd town full of professional crooks and liars. (And not very good ones at that.)
I’ve always considered myself a conservative. But I don’t think that still means the same thing these days.
Being a conservative used to mean a strong belief in the separation of church and state. Being a conservative used to mean cutting spending THEN cutting taxes. (In that order.) It meant keeping the government out of your private life. Conservatism was the foundation of civil liberties, and the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the people from the ambitions of their government. And those Amendments were demands, not suggestions.
But accountability and credibility are, and always will be, more important to me than any single piece of public policy. It’s about character more than it will ever be about ideology.
For that reason, before 2008 I had never voted for a Presidential candidate who won their election.
But this year I am celebrating.
Fairly early on, before the primaries were even in full swing, I knew that Barack Obama was going to be my candidate, and eventually my President this time around. And this is coming from someone who voted for John McCain TWICE before.
I fully understand that Barack Obama may represent an ideal more than a reality. (In fact, I was mightily disappointed with his vote on warrantless wiretapping towards the end of his tenure in the Senate.)
But I still have high hopes for the next 4-8 years. And I don’t just mean hope that we will climb out of the economic pit we’ve dug ourselves into, or that we might find some way to extract ourselves from the quagmires we’ve built for ourselves overseas.
I believe that this election proved that our nation rose up to voice its yearning for something better from the system, rather than just ambivalently accepting the lesser of two evils. I hope that we will find that the faith and trust we place in our elected leaders will be rewarded.
As always, I have my doubts and anxieties about our bureaucratic machine. But for the first time since I thought I was going to be directly involved in the process myself, I’m truly excited about the opportunity we have to do things right this time around.
… It’s a good thing I still have the Texas Rangers, college football and the music industry as outlets for my deep well of cynicism.
Good luck, Mr. President. Don’t let me down.