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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check

What's Worth Voting For?
James Campion
A Final Demented But Well-Meaning Overview From The Middle Ground
Better fare hard with good men, than feast it with bad.  - Thomas Paine

I've been howling politics from the rafters, on stages, in living rooms and kitchens, apartment stairwells and street corners, and in every bar from NYC to San Francisco with friend and foe for well over two decades. I have culled a paycheck to do so as a free-lancer and in this space for much of it. I have reveled in its oddities and absurdities, marveled at its prominent depths and smattering of heights, battled against and with the best and brightest, worst and dimmest, and occasionally even gotten involved. Much of it has been either to cause trouble or to plant tongue firmly in cheek and have a chuckle. But I have never taken The Vote for granted.

Around here The Vote is sacred.
I have yet to vote for a Democratic nominee for president of the United States. I voted for a Republican once in 2000. I did so assuming the candidate would likely be a minor disaster, which was proven understated. But it was never a vote of approval. I merely did so to aid in the eventual defeat of Al Gore with whom I had a personal vendetta. When I did vote prior, I voted Independent or not at all. Every trip to the booth has begun from a point of conscience and personal pride, exercising my right to choose the person I'd want on the job or I would respectfully abstain on the grounds that a vote for just anyone would incriminate me.

    John Anderson, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader never had a shot, but I slept well with my decisions and laughed heartily during every minute of Iran/Contra through Monica Lewinsky and so on.

    Seven elections, four Independents, two protests in absentia and one George W. Bush were always followed by the obligatory laughter. But laughing along the sidelines will no longer be an option.

    This week I cast my vote for Illinois Senator Barrack Obama. I do so for reasons repeatedly established in this space since that evening way back in early January when the candidate stepped to the microphone in Iowa, having miraculously revealed chinks in The Machine, and delivered the finest stump speech in more than two generations. He has done nothing to shake my confidence over two campaigns, one brutally contested for his party's nomination and one burped up by his opponent.

    What this ultimately means is unlike almost every election I have followed and commented on since engaging in schoolyard fistfights over McGovern/Nixon in '72, the candidate I fully endorse actually has a chance to govern.
How the hell did that happen?

    For starters, I am pleased with Obama's demeanor, cool sense of self and his overall decorum under the type of pressures no other presidential candidate in the history of these United States has had to face. He is the ultimate underdog; a ridiculously inexperienced, intellectual, Liberal, northern, African American senator. Nothing close to this list has come within a bullhorn's shout of the White House in the 219 years we've been doing this. The fact that Obama has beaten the steepest of odds has already been interpreted here as victory.

    Secondly, I have been duly convinced of Obama's rational decisions at every turn and a somewhat sincere attempt at formulating ideas and alternatives to the madness that is our failed federal government. The only caveat to this assessment is his repeated denials of hanging with crazy people, which he most certainly has, and his choice of Senator Joseph Biden, who is as crazy as they come and another abhorrent Baby Boomer big mouth that thinks by simply showing up we're all better for it.

     But let's face it; anyone who has ever served or lived for that matter has dabbled in matters of crazy. Lord knows you agree with that one.
    Mostly, I strongly believe that it is his time, his generation's time, and his culture's time to give it a go.
    And so I shall vote for him.
    Unfortunately for both the candidate and me, this is dangerous.

    First off -- again, well established over the course of decades of printed material and four published works -- I am a lunatic. Proud of it. Think of the most radical, cynical, vulgar and unconscionable ball-cracking contrarian and multiply it beyond your imagination. This is yours truly on a good day. I am a miserable, spiteful, vicious bastard the rest of the time. Pissing me off is not a good move. I tend to become a rabid mutant when disappointed; feral, spastic, and downright depraved when fed garbage and told its ice cream.

     When I think something is already screwed, as it is 98.9% of the time, it's easy to laugh it off, but when I am counting on someone or something and they fail to deliver, I tend to hurl derision every which way. It's best when I have no expectations. Ask my wife, my family, what is left of my friends or any poor soul who spends five uninterrupted minutes in my company.

     This is why I have found it far more pleasant to avoid expectation altogether. Whether I root for a team or purchase the talents/labor/utilities or heaven forefend, a product from anyone within our free-market economy, I expect to be hosed. I presume to fight, scratch and claw for every dime, right, or voice I attempt to infuse into a myriad of situations.
A good example of low expectations is my overview of the American electorate and its previous gaggle of victors.

    I think most of what arises through the national political scene is akin to a sad parody of futile embarrassment. Most of what I have been forced to vote for, cover, or witness for the better part of my 46 years of existence has more or less resembled a steaming pile of horse feces. Thus, I have concluded that most Americans, like most humans, are a puerile collection of damaged goods, delusional egoists, or just plain stupid. Therefore, I count on these people getting the leaders they deserve; corrupt, lazy, and phony miscreant ignoramuses.

     This, of course, translates nicely into the philosophy that John McCain is the perfect president. He is erratic, mean-spirited, confused, and at times downright scary. If you were to wrap the American psyche into a fun-loving ball and throw in a dapple of religious zealot gooberism with this vacant-eyed running mate of his, you'd have yourself a Clinton or Bush or Reagan or Carter or the usual mediocre fare.

     This is why, along with he being a white, vaguely conservative, flip-flopping military veteran; I have been more than amazed McCain hadn't wrapped this puppy up by Labor Day. Most candidates with this list merely have to avoid stabbing their mothers in daylight or kicking a paraplegic to be elected, especially when facing the Obama list. Apparently, somewhere along the line, voters thought whatever the Republican candidate was doing trumped these sins, which tumbled him into the unenviable position of being a symbol of the most unlikely of defeats.

    Barack Obama is the first viable alternative to these repeated shams: Inarticulate, carousing, half-cocked, plastic, quasi-religious, social marauders, whipping up a frenzy of tired old proxies from long-dead campaigns. Obama has not pulled these tricks. He has not gone negative or petty or stooped to the latest feeble notion to appeal to The Dumb, despite long-discredited institutions like the NY Times or whatever passes for fading Sixties liberalism these days.

    For the first time, a major party candidate did as little as possible to placate its base -- Right or Left -- and decided to go his own route in his own way; equal and effective parts grassroots, generational, technological, and oratorical.
     Maybe it's why he is considered radical and new and represents change and appears to some as un-American. Who the hell has grown up in this fixed and damaged national political environment and could aptly define someone uttering something smartly compiled and coherently processed?

    Well, this weird angle worked like gangbusters around here and put me in the strange position I'm currently in: The cozy place normal voters have continuously settled with previous candidates, hope, enthusiasm, and (gulp) trust.

    Hey, let's not get nuts. I have no signs standing on my property or a bumper sticker on my car, and I do not own any article of clothing with the man's name or face on it. As a member of the rogue press, I did not donate time or money to promote the candidate or his agenda. I certainly do not look for ideology in a candidate. No politician could begin to identify anything that rattles around in my head. It's best that way. I do not expect this candidate to take on the entire establishment and turn this puritanical country into an unrecognizable frenzy of revolt.
    That would be nice.
    But I'll take Barack Obama.
    The closest thing I'll get to a candidate with a chance.

© James Campion November 1st 2008

James Campion - Exploring The Death Rattle Of Modern Conservatism.

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