Monday, 15 September 2008

Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

heather I hear tales of a place in the middle of the country where the American electorate isn't radically polarized — where fear-mongering Republicans don't spook people with "family values" tales of the horrors of allowing gay people to adopt children, where fiscally-manipulative Democrats don't promise to take your boss' Christmas bonus and split between all of your lesser-paid pals. I think they call that place Iowa.

I wouldn't know about that because I live in a place where the majority of people practice situational constitutionalism — happy to give up their rights so long as the person in power agrees with them, happy to vote Republican so long as someone from a pulpit told them to do so.

Other people live in a place where the boundless government of the Democratic party is the only answer worth listening to. To these people, all Republicans are nothing more than gun-totin' hillbillies, religious zealots who blow up abortion clinics.

If you are determined to support Barack Obama no matter what, you will overlook the insult tossed out by his wife when she said: "Barack will never let you go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed." You will ignore his worrisome church ties. You will cover your ears when mention is made of his broken promise to operate within the public-financing system in this election.

If you are determined to support John McCain no matter what, you will overlook the fact that he chose a completely unqualified, unvetted running mate. You will look the other way when someone shows you how he has waffled and pandered to the religious Right in the last two years.

Someone will say Barack Obama did this, and someone else will argue that John McCain did that. Back and forth they will go until the only sound in the country is shouting and storming, and you realize no one was ever really listening at all. Everyone was just waiting for his turn to talk.

Last week I was scribbling away on a piece of paper in the kitchen when Amy said from the living room, "Whatcha doin? Writing the Deceleration of Independence?"

"Yes," I said. "How'd you know?"

"That's what you do when there is blank paper in front of you," she said.

I said, "Sometimes I write the Constitution."

"Ah yes," she said, grinning across the room. "But when you do that, you hum My Country 'Tis of Thee."

I love the United States, I do. And this moment, if I were to look in the Mirror of Erised, I'd see millions of people making intelligent, thoughtful decisions about the coming election. Decisions based on facts. Decisions bearing in mind the actual role of the president of the United States. We'd listen to one another. We'd respectfully disagree. And then we'd vote, because that's what "free country" means, after all.

This week's Collective topic is "Things That Make My Tummy Hurt."

The thing that makes my tummy hurt is this year's election. And even so, I cannot look away.

The thing that makes my tummy better is this video:

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