11.05.2008

Rosa's Political Analysis


We Shall Overcome
I was in high school during the first Iraq War. On that January day when the U.S. invaded Iraq, 3 of our city's high schools spontaneously marched out of class, wearing black-arm bands, mourning the violence and loss of life; protesting our country's involvement in a war that seemed dubious at best. We ended up in a student-led rally downtown, holding hands and singing all the old protest songs. I remember feeling imbued with a sense of power, that we were 'the people', and that we could make a difference. A few days later, some friends and I joined the massive peace march in San Francisco, carrying an enormous (and de rigeour) tie dye peace-sign flag.
Rock the Vote(?)
Not long after I graduated from high school I was swept up in the whole 1993 Bush/Clinton election. I was a new voter, freshly registered with the Socialist Party-I had just read Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle-and I carried into the election that same belief that I could make a difference; ready to vote out George Bush, eager for change. MTV had that 'Rock the Vote' campaign, heavily endorsed by all my favorite bands. I am embarrassed by how much this influenced me. And then when Clinton won, I sat gleefully in front of the TV watching U2, REM & 10,000 Maniacs playing at Clinton's Inaugural Ball. I video-taped it, watching again and again Natalie Merchant & Michael Stipe singing "To Sir With Love"; it felt like a fresh (brave)new world.
Burned & Beleaguered
Well, most of the whole Clinton administration left a bad taste in my mouth, with the hinkey dealings, slippery words, multiple Whatever-gates & ultimate impeachment. My youthful political optimism was burned, and I was left feeling wary & beleaguered. And I've been in this place for the last however many elections, wistfully re-reading Jimmy Carter's books, choosing to write-in candidates rather than having on my conscience the guilt of voting for someone I didn't trust.
Under-represented
But I've always felt under-represented, more conservative than most Democrats but far too leftie to be a Republican. And I haven't come close with any of the other parties either, most feel so fringey & wild-eyed that I'd need a bunker, a shot-gun and a year's supply of emergency rations just to join.
Why I'm Not a Joiner
I was brought up in a non-denominational church, with independent-voting parents, in a liberal state (CA), in Santa Cruz, a town where 'organized religion' was generally not looked upon with a friendly eye. It's the sort of place where it's hard to walk downtown without being 1) handed sheaths of fliers for upcoming demonstrations/marches/rallies, 2) asked to sign several petitions, or 3) swept up in a Hari Krishna tambourine parade. And somehow I love it, it's my hometown. More importantly, Santa Cruz holds these two ideas at once: 1) progressive politics are in the majority, and 2) don't trust those in power. I've always found this a little ridiculous, with the bumper stickers that at once tout every liberal policy of the city council and also include, 'Subvert the Dominant Paradigm!' I don't know why but I find it endearing-maybe because it's so near-sighted.

Being a Christian has made me recognize this even more because often it seems that to 'subvert the dominant paradigm' means to follow Jesus. (I see a future bumper sticker!) And I think that's how it should be. I am nervous with the Religious Right, and political lobbies with lots of power and money in the name of Jesus, (who always disassociated himself with worldly systems of power.) It feels too much like Rome. Dr. Dobson makes me nervous at times. The American Family Association makes me nervous (and embarrassed.)
Citizen of Another Country
At church this Sunday, Josh Fox spoke about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the political arena, reminding us that we are first citizens of a heavenly country and that our eyes need to be on the One who will ultimately right all wrongs. This calms me, and speaks to that place that doesn't feel at home with any one ideology of the world.

So, it's been interesting with this election. I'd already decided to vote for Obama, mostly because I was heartily sick of the Bush administration, and Obama was interesting: a converted Christian with an inner-city social justice background, and a good author to boot. I liked that my friends saw him at a Swell Season concert in Chicago. I liked that he sounded like a normal person. But mainly I was 1) very tired of Bush's politics, and 2) willing to give the other version of 'The Man' (aka the Democratic Party) a chance. And he won.

And then today as I took G to the doctor (ear infection) I tuned into the BBC's 'World Have Your Say'. It was incredible. People calling in from all over the world, giddy and excited for my country. A woman from Bahrain called in to 'congratulate the American people on their vote'. Kenya has declared a public holiday. People from all over Africa were calling in, commending the US for the ability of both 'blacks and whites' to elect an African-American president, citing us an example to their tribe-torn nations. All over the world, the calls & texts poured in, people celebrating because of something that 'the American people' had done. And I was astounded.
Me: Stupid American
I guess I didn't realize how heavily I carry the guilt of being an American. I suppose living internationally during the first flush of the Iraq War, seeing the protests and near-riots as my president was all but booed out of London and hearing again and again the phrase "stupid American" really began to wear on me. I agreed with everyone mostly, but somehow that didn't help. To hear congratulations and 'well-done' from different people all over the world was surprisingly uplifting, and I spent the rest of the day with a dopey grin on my face. I was happy that for one day, my country wasn't the international whipping boy, and that a guy in Nairobi was having a celebratory pint because of something that I (in a small way) helped bring about.
Hopeful, Finally
Today I read a transcript of Obama preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia (where Dr. King was pastor) & it was outstanding. I am suddenly imbued with that initial sense of hope, not because I think that Obama is going to solve all our problems, but because he is out there, a follower of Jesus, working for the kingdom of God, trying to bring justice to the poor, speaking up for those who can't speak up for themselves. I admire him, and didn't think I could admire another president. I don't know what will happen next, but for the first time in a long time, I am (dare I say it?) hopeful.

8 comments:

Katie Hund said...

This was wonderful! Your current sentiments mean SO much more having heard about the "political" journey you have been on! I'm excited too!

rosa said...

Thanks, Katie! You know, politics is probably one of the last topics I ever thought I'd write about on rosa-sinensis. Just goes to show, you never know what you'll find here!

MyShirtSucks.com said...
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Colleen said...

Well said, your brain must be normalizing from the hormone imbalance :-) It is nice, the thought of being able to travel internationally and not feel the need to tell people I am from Canada.

brad said...

we already live in a bunker...let's git us a shotgun and some emergency rations!!!

Lisa said...

Rosa, thank you for posting this, because while being staunchly Independent, I voted for McCain/Palin and was disappointed (tho' not at all surprised) in the American people on Tues for what I saw to be choosing style over substance. I understood why people liked Obama--on the surface, what is there not to like? He is young, handsome, has a beauriful family, dresses well, is intelligent, suave, cool and level-headed, confident, and obviously inspiring: the model of the ideal leader in this age. But McCain has so much experience that would be beneficial for our nation at this critical point--and part of me fears the Change the Obama people have in mind. Not only for the potential for throwing the baby out with the bathwater in government policy, so to speak, as the now all-powerful Dems exercise with glee, ; ) but also because I assume they will want to change some of the things I am really content or even happy with--like bans on partial birth abortion.

So, your posting was so good for me to readm as it helped me see and better understand the feelings of an Obama supporter (particularly one I admire and trust). Most of the people I heard seemed to be basing their whole election identity on what they were not--namely Bush and the status quo. That is not the most inspiring platform: vote for me because I'm not him/them. You acknowledged this, while showing me howw there was more to it--there was substance of spirit in his supporters which I can admire, and idealism which I can appreciate.

And I wonder if there is not a bigger Plan which has more to do with healing racial wounds, or our status in the world arena, or something we cannot even fathom. I am glad to think Obama loves Jesus--you are clearly less cynical than I of politicians! But I will surely pray that he does, and will hope that the Change that comes is coming from someone bigger than our president. : )

And here is a little something for you Obama fans, with love,

Blessed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3ijYVyhnn0

rosa said...

Wow, Lisa, what a great comment! I think you would be an awesome blog author, have you considered it?

I've admitted that I didn't base my vote on Obama on anything very substantial. And I also dislike the idea of voting for someone just because you don't like the other guy. (Which is why I've usually written candidates in, better voting FOR someone than using my vote as a tool against someone else.) This time though, it was the whole Rep. party that I was ready to see go out the door, at least for the next term of office. "Let's see what the other guys can do," was my general feeling. However, I didn't realize that the Dem's were going to seize all 3 branches of gov. at once- that does seem a mite unbalanced....I don't pretend to follow politics very closely (so these were deep waters for me to venture into), but I don't think that happens very often?
Anyway, Obama seems to be choosing people in his cabinet who have some experience (let's hope it's people with wisdom and good counsel), so maybe not being experienced is not the end of the world.
And I loved what you had to say about the bigger Plan about healing racial wounds. I didn't expect that to be such a big deal globally. I forgot that racism is still a struggle everywhere, and people can garner hope when seeing it overcome.
As for his claims to being a Christian, most (all?) presidents have claimed that, so you're right, it potentially means little. So we will heed Jesus' words about judging a tree by it's fruit. But I will say, that a Christian president who is very vocal about his concern for the poor and the marginalized is refreshing. And if he isn't a Christian-if it's something convenient he put on as a politician-he's an outright liar, and no better than any other person who has compromised truth for power. But his interview with Christianity Today is pretty explicit.....anyway, thanks for your comment. And the YouTube link!
What is it about political musical satire? Especially done ala 'The Office'.

franny said...

I was registered as a Socialist until last year, when I registered as a Democrat so I could vote in the primaries. Haven't decided whether or not I'll go back to the party at this point, though I still agree with most socialist beliefs and practises.

I am having a hard time trying to figure out why Christians would ever vote for McCain. His foreign policy greatly concerns me, and as much as he seems like a cool chummy grandpa or neighbor with fun stories to tell, he seems like a mean and vindictive man. It's also odd that he has never claimed to be a Christian, whereas Obama has, and yet he got a great portion of the "Christian vote". The dudes seems like a... well, warmonger. Is it because of his stance on abortion, (which I think shouldn't concern people who don't have vaginas) ? Is it just to toe the party line ?

Whatever, I should probably keep my political opinions to my own blog, but I'm glad you voted for Obama. He seems competent, at the very least, and it's so amazing to see someone elected that doesn't look a darn thing like all the other presidents we've had.

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.