Monday, September 08, 2008

A Whiter Shade of Palin

OK. Honest to God. I was in the Y this morning. Working out. Minding my own business. Trying to burn middle age flab on the elliptical machine whilst watching ALL the morning shows at the same time.

You know… multitasking.

This old guy hops onto the machine next to me and starts ellipticizing away. OK. Cool. Great.

All of a sudden he turns to me (keep in mind, I had headphones on; he had headphones on), and he says: “I just have to ask you this.”

OK. I am like 28 minutes into my 30 minute all out fat burning aerobathon.

I tilt my head, indicating that I hear him and am waiting.

“I just have to ask you what you think of Sarah Palin.”

Rrrrright. And if I had been a guy next to him, would he have felt compelled to ask me then? I think not.

He did not strike me as a pollster, out asking everyone he happened to see.

“Well…,” I said, not wanting to stop the finale of my workout, “I think McCain would not have picked her if she had been a man.”

The guy looked at me for a moment. He was still working away, too. “You’re probably right. She IS hot!”

Say, whaaaat?

“That’s not what I meant,” I said. “I was referring to her qualities and experience.”

“Mmmmm,” he nodded. “Well, I think she’s feisty. And I like that in a woman!”


“I like the way she stands up to the big oil companies,” he continued. “I think she would do a great job as vice president!”

“Well, I certainly hope so,” I said. And oops, guess what? My workout was over.

And I left.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Who do you love?" -- Bo Diddley

This is my “profound” insight of the week.

After having watched both political party conventions and all the speeches of all the candidates and politicos….

People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. They don’t see what they don’t want to see, and they don’t hear what they don’t want to hear.

And I will include myself in that gross, vast generalization, which I happen to think is a truism.

If people belong to a particular political party and are ardent supporters of that party and its beliefs, they tend to see the good things in the candidate of their party and overlook the negative things about him or her. Conversely, they tend to focus on the negative things about the opposing party’s candidate and overlook the good things.

If they are not really drawn to any particular party or switch back and forth, I think they still tend to see the good/overlook the negative in the candidate they are most drawn to while doing the opposite for the candidate they don’t care as much for.

If caught in the middle and not really sure which candidate they want to support, I think they then look for similar views or common past experiences or something that makes them feel more comfortable with one candidate than the other. So, they can hear one candidate’s speech and cling to things they hear that they like and then turn around and hear the other candidate’s speech and do the same thing. They are looking for the good or what they most agree with in both, hoping they will connect more with one or the other candidate. Or they might hear one candidate’s speech and harp on the negative, only to turn around and hear the other candidate’s speech and harp on the negative aspects of his or her speech. In the end, they are just looking for a reason to support one candidate over the other or reject one candidate over the other.

Life would be so much easier – wouldn’t it? -- if it were black and white. Only it is not, or hardly ever. Life is so incredibly gray. We live in a sea of gray. We crave certainty and a sense of control and order in our lives. We want life to make sense. We want life to be fair.

I think who we end up voting for is often a gut thing. Sure, we may belong to a particular political party and vote straight party, no matter what. That certainly makes life easier. But for those of us who do not, who look for the best (or least worst) candidate to lead our nation, I think we are so guided by our perspectives and points of view, our life experiences, our interactions with others, and our own personal prejudices and biases, that we do not realize that our take on a speech or a candidate may be entirely different from someone else’s, even though we have just observed the exact same event in space and time. If we watch these events surrounded by people who think like we do and have similar life situations and experiences, then their similar takes and reactions can simply reaffirm our own take and reaction. It is when we interact with others whose takes and reactions are diametrically opposed to ours that we become confounded. We tend to think that truth is what is. Or is what we see it as being. But everyone thinks that same way. Our view and take and reaction seem like common sense and “right,” while other takes and reactions seem somehow “wrong.” I think we get too hung up on right and wrong and there being one right way and only one absolute truth.

If we all agreed that one particular candidate for President was THE best one, that would be kinda weird, don’t you think?

It would mean that we all, all 300 million of us, saw the world in the exact same way and had the exact same take on things. I think that would be a very scary place indeed.

Instead, we are a nation of many different peoples and races and backgrounds and religions and incomes and tastes and life experiences. We have different interests and live in different places and do different things. Yet we are all Americans. We are all part of one country. And we are all part of a country where we may think as we please and speak as we please and vote as we please. We may get involved as we please.

The more Americans who vote, the better. Granted, I would hope they would be well-informed and engaged voters, but I trust that they are voting for who they genuinely and sincerely believe would make the best (or least worst) President. The candidate that most Americans vote for should be the next President, whether we happen to agree with that selection or not. If there are problems with our voting systems and processes, then that is another issue entirely.

I think our elected officials would spend their energies more wisely if they would focus more on the areas where they DO agree and less on where they differ. I think they would get more done together and in our nation’s interest. There are times where we need to agree to disagree and move on. There are times where we need to work together to move forward.

And we all want to move forward.