Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Election

For the first time in many, many years, this year's presidential election does not put us in the position of having to choose the "lesser of two evils". The choices are as clear cut as they can be. Do you want to continue living in the past, or are you willing to take a chance on the unknown future? Do you choose a world view that believes in war as a diplomatic tool, that believes in imposing American ideals on other nations so that the United States can more easily exploit that country's natural resources? Or, do you choose a world view that believes it is a sign of strength to talk with one's enemies?

Do you choose a man who is so cynical that he chooses a woman as a running mate simply because she is a woman? Or do you choose a man who did not take the easy and more popular course and choose a woman?

The so-called political pundits are maintaining the McCain's choice of Governor Palin has changed the course of the presidential race. Nonsense! Do McCain and the pundits really think that Clinton's women supporters are going to vote for him because he is running with a woman who is opposed to abortion even when a woman's life is endangered? McCain's choice of Palin is sexist because there are many people in the Republican Party who are as reactionary as she is and could have been his running mate. The only reason she's on the ticket is because she's female.

The pundits are saying that Obama must be careful in how his campaign responds to her. Nonsense! Obama responds to her by calling her what she is - a right-wing zealot who would do her best to get Rowe v. Wade overturned and to give Alaska and the environment to the oil companies.

Given Palin's lack of experience, it is likely that the attacks on Obama's alleged inexperience will diminish. Even if this is true, the point which the Obama camp has not made is that experience in government is the problem. Dick Cheney has 40 years of experience in government from being a congressman to Gerald Ford's Chief of Staff to being Secretary of Defense before becoming Vice-President. If the past 8 years is what experience gives us, then it is past time to choose experience of a different kind, and that is experience that is not rooted in the past but experience that sees the complexities of the present and the challenges of the future.

I am two years and five months younger than John McCain. He and I have this in common: we have more years behind us than in front of us. Indeed, our memories exceed the number of years Obama has been alive. I feel much better with someone as President who has more of his life ahead of him. He will care about the future in ways that neither John McCain nor I can. We don't have a stake in the future beyond the next twenty or so years.

While McCain and I belong to the same generation, I cannot entrust the future to a man who has never experienced the Internet, who has no conception of how the Internet has significantly changed the ways we live in and think about the world. Is John McCain even aware that in the next ten years, it is probable that most newspapers will cease to exist? I bought an iPod touch a couple of weeks ago, and it has revolutionized how I organize my life. John McCain is as obsolete as a quill pen.

This is a crossroads election for the United States. If McCain wins or is able to steal the election as Bush did twice, I believe the nation will become as divided as it was at the time of the Civil War. While Obama's world view is broad enough to include portions of McCain's, McCain's world view is narrow and moralistic in the worst sense. His election will cause millions of people to become not only disaffected with the system but antagonistic to it.

I do not know what form(s) a new civil war would take, but I am convinced that a McCain victory will lead to a war between the past and the future.

If so, count me in. But, dear God, I pray it does not come to that.

© 2008 by Julius Lester

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