Last week I was talking politics with a friend of mine. While I haven't made many friends here I am grateful that the non-work friend I have made is farily intelligent and can carry on a decent conversation. During that conversation I told him about a realization I had about a year and a half ago when I was talking to my roommate at the time. That realization was that while I have voted in every presidential election since I turned 18 I have never actually voted "for" a candidate. Rather, I have always voted "against" one of the candidates. It was a sad realization when I had it.
Back then (when I was voting) I didn't realize it though as my political awareness really only came on and has been growing since 2000. Still, I can look back now and hear myself thinking not "I want so-and-so in office" but actually "I don't want THAT yutz in office." As I said, a sad realization. As time has gone on it actually makes sense considering the kind of individuals we're offered to choose from when it comes to political offices, espeically that of the President. Now, for only the second time do I find myself really being in a possible position of voting "for" a presidential candidate. It almost happened eight years ago, but the person who I actually had some faith in didn't make the final cut (so to speak). Still, I do realize that such a thing might happen, and it will come down to who becomes the candidate for the Democratic party. In my mind it breaks down in the following fashion:
Clinton vs McCain - Voting "Against"
In this matchup it's not that I dislike either candidate. It's just that for me this matchup represents "more of the same" when it comes to a number of things. You see, I don't really see Democrats and Republicans as being all that different. While each party is seen as having different "ideals," to me it's become all about control for them. I really don't think that politicians on large actually care about regular citizens most of the time. I think they're more about getting their own little power fix. Now, while I don't necessarily think that either of these candidates are just out for themselves they do represent to me (in this faceoff) first and foremost the battle of the parties. That is not inspirational to me. Actually it's very disappointing, and I say that in regards to my own views and what I see in the matchup.
In this matchup I see myself looking at the each candidate's history not to see where they will guide us down the line, but where they are likely to push/pull us. Is it possible for each candidate to make changes to our country that could be greatly beneficial for all? Sure. But I am afraid I don't think I see that as being the end result. What I see is an early battle starting for the next presidential election, nothing more. Sorry.
McCain vs Obama - Voting "For"
In this matchup I need to look at myself more than the candidates. Why? Because in this matchup I feel as though each candidate not only can move beyond towing the party line, they HAVE to.
McCain's "maverick" label has been applied to him by people who are members of both major political parties, and that is something I like. He is someone who is able to keep a variety of politicians and special interest groups on their toes due to the diffucluty of pinning down what he is likely to do next. Now, he isn't as much of a maverick as he used to be, but he still creates enough concern within his own party that I can focus on him as who appears to be as an individual.
Obama, while a Democrat isn't someone who I see as a Democrat first and foremost. He is a politician who seems to be able to actually articulate what he envisions for this country in his mind's eye. Is it all possible and realistic? I don't know, but he comes across as someone who actually believes in the potential to bring about what he sees. While that is nothing new (even a delusional person can appear the same way) the extra "oomph" from him is that he appears to be more of the mindset that HE isn't the person to bring about such change, but more that WE the people are the ones who can/will bring about such change. Do we need him to do it? I don't think so. But I do believe that he may be the person who is able to open the door to the opportunity.
Beyond the bits I've mentioned above I believe this matchup also brings forward two very serious opposites, and that is keeping things as they are or moving things into the unknown. Each has its pros and cons. The thing is in this matchup I must sit down and seriously ask myself if we can afford to move forward into uncertainty, or can we afford not to?