Ah, election season. The honeycrisps are back in the produce section, the air has an unfriendly chill, and our level of discourse has degenerated to the level of grade-school boys. Why is it that people who are so brilliant in every other area of their lives have to stoop to ad hominem attacks and meaningless digs whenever the national election rolls around?
I mean, look. I’m no fan of Palin. By all accounts, she is an extremely effective politician who should probably be considered a great candidate. Is she a nice person? Um, it doesn’t seem like she is. But aiming our slingshots at the low-hanging fruit (a pregnant daughter of an abstinence-only candidate) sullies us, not her. Teenagers have sex, and they get pregnant. There are more effective and less effective sex education methods, but we’re not really discussing that. The general feeling about her daughter’s situation is more of a locker room “heh, heh, she had sex with a jock and she got pregnant!” Many of the things Palin has said have indeed been somewhat laughable, but let’s face it – we do have a history, as a nation, of electing Republicans with pretty but dumb running mates – and I have no illusions that Palin is stupid – so we have to do better than just to jump on the easy lobs they hit over the net at us, lest we cheapen the entire conversation. It sometimes feels like the McCain camp must be feeding us silly Palin trivia just so that we can look ridiculous in our response.
One of the things that made me most irritated during the *last* presidential election was the “You’re either with us or against us” fear mongering that the republicans tended to throw out whenever someone questioned our activities in the middle east. But what I’m hearing now from many Obama supporters feels just about as well thought out. Over on Salon, there’s an “Open letter to undecided voters” by someone who says they’ll try to be neutral. Um, no. Not neutral. It’s fine to have an opinion – but if you claim to be neutral when you aren’t, then you’re just as bad as FOX news. Or NPR.
The most recent economic events have been an excellent opportunity for us to point out that McCain was involved in the deregulation bill which almost certainly brought us to this crossroads. For those of us not wanting to vote for the “Bridge to No Choice”, simply telling pro-choice republicans that McCain thinks Roe V. Wade is an extremely effective way to help them realize how much his views have changed over the last few years. Sticking with the above the belt facts doesn’t empty our toolbox – it just leaves us with the ones we can use with some amount of dignity.
I’m going to do my part to call a spade a spade, and not try to fool people into agreeing with me through underhanded means. If more of us do that, perhaps we can get through this election without feeling slimy. And maybe… just maybe, if we don’t make the blatant assumption that the people we’re talking to are idiots, they’ll listen to the meat of what we’re saying. And we might not end up with the guy who irritated us least… last.
In other news, since I’m sure you’re all dying to know how my maths are coming… I spent last night wandering through trigonometric identities of all types. And proofs. Proofs are fun.