Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"May you live in interesting times"...oh, we do

Here we are in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eight. Well into the third century of this great Republic, founded on the ideal that what you do matters and who you were born as does not.

If only our Founding Fathers could see us now.

I won't bother with the obvious, that's been well covered by those more talented than me. Instead, I want to talk about another aspect.

It started way before Sarah Palin. WAY before. Can anyone even remember the last Presidential election that was campaigned solely on the basis of the candidate's platform? Heck, there have been times when I wondered if anyone cared about the actual positions of the candidates. I know better now, but the situation has gotten no better.

So, now we come to Palin. She has been potential VP for a few days now and I've heard no criticisms of her politics yet. I have, however, heard a nonstop barrage of sheerly personal attacks. Everything from her being a vapid beauty queen, a bad mother because she went into politics (what about Hilary, Pelosi...?), and a hypocrite because her daughter is pregnant.

How's that work? She is pro-life and pro-family values, right? So, if she was going to be a hypocrite, wouldn't she have had her daughter very quietly get an abortion and cover up the whole thing?

'Ah', they say, 'but her daughter got pregnant at seventeen!' Okay, so? How does that matter even one little bit? First off, it was her daughter, not her, secondly everyone is human. She has certainly tried her best to respond to the situation as best she can and with candor. Which is far more than can be said for most politicians.

But she will continue to be the target of vicious personal attacks. Not because she is a bad person, under qualified (she is, in fact, more qualified that either candidate for the big chair), or a hypocrite. She is a target because she has energized a largely unimpressed conservative, pro-gun base to vote for McCain who likely wouldn't have otherwise, because she is a woman politician who has succeeded on her merits and not on identity politics, and because she does have experience as both an executive and in foreign relations. In other words, they are in a frothing rage because she was a good pick and dramatically increases McCain's chance for a win.

Many people, myself included, have already (it's like time is speeding up in the political world) noticed a very strong backlash from all this. People who could normally be relied to vote for the Democratic candidate are, in increasing numbers, telling their own party to go to Hell.

Way I see this playing out is a radical furthering of the marginalization of the extreme left as well as the party leadership from their base. Who knows? Maybe we'll see the stranglehold of the two-party system broken within our lifetimes.

Hey, even I can hope.

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