Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Don’t Wanna Be an Independent

Really, I don’t. I want an issue, something I can glom onto and vote with no matter what else is at stake. I want to be so prolife that I have to vote Republican no matter what, or so pro-LGBT that I vote Democrat no matter what. I want to not have to think about who is running for President and what his or her ideas are.

Because when I think too long about various issues, I am a flip-flopper. After a couple debates, I am a Newt supporter. He just sounds so fair, so smart, so experienced, so full of good ideas to get this country back on track (were we ever on track?) But then, Obama goes to Kansas and delivers one of his first real campaign speeches, and boom, I remember why I voted for him last time.

Obama has such good speech writers, such good spinners, and he is such a good storyteller. I was goo-goo eyed watching him as he talked up his “American values” and “middle class fair-playing field” vision. My husband saw me transfixed and said, “Oh no, you’re not going to vote for him again, are you?” I might.

Imagine that “truth is not about getting it right or representing reality, but is part of a social practice and language that serves our purposes during a particular time period” (David Donaldson) or that “knowledge is produced through operations of power and therefore changes fundamentally during different time periods.” (Michel Foucault) Imagine that the truth, the reality of your time period, is not absolute, not based on empirical evidence or facts, but is rather determined by the narratives that are created to record it. The story becomes the “truth”. And right now there are a lot of ways to tell the story of our country.

(All you postmodern philosophers and critical theorists, hush... I know I simplified it. How could I not?)

When the gay, high-profile, nationally syndicated, sex columnist Dan Savage categorized my daughter as a “tard,” I felt angry at him and his readers who didn’t call him out on it, and thought “Who cares if you can’t marry your boyfriend? Why should I use my vote to help you out when you don’t give equal respect to people with Down syndrome?” But then I remembered that I do want equal rights for everybody, which includes even certain hypocritical gay men.

When a presidential candidate starts talking about overturning Roe vs. Wade, my “no way” buzzer goes off and I want to cross him or her off my list. But ending mid to late term abortions for any reason other than to save the mother’s life is worth my vote.

Really though, social issues can’t compete for my vote when we’re facing 15 trillion in national debt; we borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend; we bail out banks and the auto industry, home owners, and possibly student loan holders; we refuse to get off the Arab oil tit... when the cost of living is rising and the paycheck and benefits are shrinking... then I have to think, think, think.

Whose version of the story is closest to the “truth”? Whose vision for the future will get us back on prosperous ground? I just don’t know. Do you?

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