Sunday, June 1, 2008

More political whining

I'm still angry. I'm so tired of hearing about people in demographic terms. There's "white women", "black women", "downscale voters", "blue collar". . .Need I go on? You've heard all of this, too, if you've been reading any political analysis.

How many of us fit neatly into any of these categories? I question these definitions every time I fill out a survey. I tend to check the "prefer not to say" box if there is one. Of all the categories, I fit into the "white/caucasian" box, but even though I am quite pale, I am not truly white nor caucasian.

In the last election cycle, I realized after I was polled over the telephone, that certain assumptions were probably based on my answers that bared no resemblance to my internal reality. I was asked, "How important are social issues when you vote" and "How important are values when you vote?" I gave both the highest answer possible, for social issues and values are important to me. But what I didn't realize until I saw the results of this particular Zogby survey (who should know better) was that "values voters" were assumed to be anti-choice (amongst other things). Was I asked what values meant to me? No. It was only assumed.

But back to the boxes that Americans are supposed to fit into so neatly: we do not. That is what makes this country what it is. Unless you have just recently immigrated here or your family has been particularly insular, you are not 100% pure anything. We are indeed a melting pot, though this expression has gone out of favor.

I resent the fact that I am assumed to feel and vote a certain way based on my gender, sex, education and locality (am I leaving anything out?) According to these labels, I should be a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton. I am not. I never have been nor is any one I know who falls into the same categories as I. Are my friends that different from the norm? It's difficult to believe.

So, when I read about the resentment between black women (who vote for Obama) and white women (who don't) I feel angry. Every time a pollster divides us in this manner, we become an inarticulate mass. It also stirs up the pot.

When did polling become so damned important, anyway? Someone, please google this for me! I'm feeling lazy at the moment.

I know. I know. Strategies are built on demographics, whether it's for a new soft drink or a presidential candidate, but really, do we have to hear so much about it? I suspect one reason this has become so popular in the media is because we have become a nation of very impatient people. We can't wait until the results are in and counted. We need to predict the outcome, bet on it, suffer through all the mounting tension (and yes, I enjoy this pastime myself).

In the long run, I think many of these polls only hurt us as a nation. Newsweek tells us this week that there are "high resentment white voters". People are easily influenced. If a study says that you "should" vote a certain way, based on all the categories you fit into, it is certainly possible that this information may make you think twice. Perhaps without this labeling, people wouldn't fall so easily into these categories. Will someone do a study about this?

Moving away from theoretical concerns, I am angry that we've gotten to this point. The republicans should not be in any position to win this coming election. George W. Bush has the lowest approval rating of any president ever. McCain, though he protests otherwise, will continue Bush's legacy. How did it come to this?

Depending on whose side you are on, it is because either Clinton or Obama is the spoiler. Of course, I think it's Clinton. Granted, she has had the right to keep on fighting for the nomination. Many have voted for her. But when the situation looked hopeless, she had an opportunity not to keep going and perhaps heal the rift that was forming. She may have gotten the vice presidency and even though I personally loathe her, I think this would have been a very good idea - the "dream ticket". But no, we've had months and months of infighting, including yesterday's debacle at the DNC. This only makes folks think the democrats are incompetent, whiney, and don't know how to play by the rules, even their own.

Resentment is now high. Democrats for Clinton seem to have forgotten what they're voting for. It's not just about Clinton or Obama. It's about this country, the war, the economy. . .you would really vote Republican or not vote just because your candidate didn't get the nod? Please! This is insane.

And for my last bit of personal whininess, I really hope that people wake up to who the real "elite" is in the country. It is not people like Obama who have been educated at Harvard. Yes, he had a posh education, but he is not one of the elite. He doesn't sit on the board of Enron or Halliburton. His great grandparents didn't vacation in Kennebunkport, Martha's Vineyard or the like. He had a good education. Is this elite? Let me look up the word.

Okay: the American Heritage dictionary defines elite as "A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status". This would put pretty much any politician into this class, wouldn't it?

The kind of elitism that worries me is the power elite, defined here: "A term used by the American sociologist (see sociology) C. Wright Mills to describe a relatively small, loosely knit group of people who tend to dominate American policymaking. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policy makers."

Do we want more Dick Cheney-types running our country? This, I think, is the bottom line. I, for one, do not.

Painting Note: President Teddy Roosevelt Signing Statehood Proclamation by Mike Wimmer Look at all those men in suits!

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