This year I’ve come to realize something so important, so fundamental, about the way people vote, that it’s going to sound stupid when I say it out loud. The decision for a candidate is not made in a rational way.
Not usually, anyway.
People vote with their hearts as much as with their heads. People–myself included–respond much more strongly to irrational calls on their fears, their prejudices, their own personal and subconscious leanings, than they ever do to the realities of policy, or issues.
How else can you explain the thousands of Hillary Clinton supporters who have decided to vote for John McCain? The only thing the two candidates have in common is skin tone. What self-respecting feminist could possibly vote for a man whose record on women’s issues is abominable as McCain? Regardless of what he called his wife (that’s his second wife the hieress, not his first wife the disabled woman), just take a look at his voting record.
And even if you’re not an abortion-happy feminist, take a look at McCain’s economic policy. Is it the folks making more than $250,000 a year who really need help in these tough economic times?
People come up with all kinds of reasons not to vote for Barack Obama, but the main one, the one that no one wants to talk about, is the one that AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka pinpointed in a recent speech. In his words:
“They just can’t get past the idea that there’s something wrong with voting for a black man. Those of us who know better can’t afford to sit silently or look the other way while it’s happening…
There is no evil that’s inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism.”
And even more so when it’s self-inflicted.
Barack Obama’s speeches are high-flown and hope-inspiring. He’s surrounded himself with smart people. I’m sure he’s as human as the rest of us, underneath the well-managed campaign. But he’s a better human being than McCain by a long, long shot. And I truly believe that he has the best interests of the entire country at heart.
I was born in 1973, during the Watergate hearings. I’ve never known a time when the office of the U.S. presidency hadn’t been sullied by the shadow of Nixon’s shenanigans. Kennedy was long dead by the time I was born. But listening to Obama’s speeches gives me an inkling of what it might have been like to have a leader who truly inspired people, who spoke to the higher ideals of truth, and justice, and hope. We need bread, surely. And we’ve been pacified by circuses. But this campaign has opened a little window of belief in me that there just might be someone out there willing to work for roses, too.