Thursday, November 17, 2011
Musings of an Occasionally Fallen Away Democrat
A few facts need to precede the musings.
The first Presidential election in which I was old enough to vote was 1964.
I was in Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base.
I voted for Johnson.
In 1968 I voted for Humphrey. It was brutally difficult for me when I marked the absentee ballot (I was still in the Air Force) because I had watched, during the campaign which had preceded that ballot marking, my choice – Gene McCarthy – ruthlessly run out of contention by Robert Kennedy, and then had watched Kennedy – whom I had, by then, decided to vote for - gunned down in Los Angeles, leaving Humphrey. That posed for me a major problem. Humphrey seemed to me to be complicit in the war that had made Johnson not be running and had made me to be in the Air Force. That being in the Air Force was a state of being instead of doing what I had wanted to do after graduating college. That complicity, or my perception of that complicity, had made that mark on that ballot one of the hardest things I had ever done to that point in my life. But on election night – faced with the nightmare reality of a Nixon presidency - I actually started getting excited as Humphrey seemed to be pulling away in the popular vote. Nixon was, to me, as close to the devil incarnate as I had ever seen.
In 1972 I voted for McGovern.
In 1976 I voted for Ford. Carter made no sense to me. I was – as history seems to have revealed – just too stupid to see the brilliance of the man. Ford did the right thing for the country, I felt, in pardoning Nixon. In spite of fits of vindictive joy at the prospect of Nixon being tried for treason, I felt, after each such fit, that pardoning was by far the best thing for the country. And Ford seemed stable.
In 1980 I voted for Reagan. When I was in Vietnam, as the 1968 Presidential election had begun to to loom in the distant future – I was in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967 – I was depending upon the Republican Party to nominate either Rockefeller or Reagan. As a member of the team in Saigon whose mission it was to document the existence of Lyndon’s light at the end of the tunnel I had had a belly full of lies from that President. After all, I helped manufacture the data upon which those lies were based so I knew where those lies were buried. That revelation – my preferences for choice in the upcoming election – shows that I was clearly beginning to have, even as early as 1967, major misgivings about the way the Democrats were running things. (One of my personally invented truisms was “FDR is easy to simulate but impossible to duplicate”.) But the Republicans gave me Nixon. So it took 13 years and Carter on offer for the second time for a stark choice – for the second time (it was Carter in the first time, also) to run me into the Republican camp. At least I was falling away with a candidate for whom I had 13 years earlier felt an affinity. And Ford had already gotten me actively past the near occasion of sin stage to the actual act of the sin. So 1980 was easy.
In 1984 I voted for Reagan.
In 1988 I voted for Bush. I was laboring under the fantasy that Reagan had made the world a safer and better place, and I interpreted the “Points of Light” speech to be Bush’s commitment to making the United States a better place for everyone that lived here. But I gave him only one term.
In 1992 I voted for Perot. Bush didn’t get it done and I couldn’t see how Clinton had a chance of accomplishing anything. I actually thought Perot might have a chance. The state of the country was so bad that Perot, with his desire to sit down with a “blank sheet of paper “ and start over, seemed to me to have what America – if only its citizens were listening – needed; so I thought Perot had a chance. But no one was listening.
In 1996 I voted for Dole. Clinton was still the other choice and I hadn’t seen anything to change my 1992 mind.
By 2000 the Republican Party – the party of Hatfield, Lindsay, Rockefeller, Evans, McCall, and many other rational, decent people, had morphed into a crazed fascist/Neanderthal/christian cult. Since then they have gone downhill every election cycle.
In 2000 I voted for Gore.
In 2004 I voted for Kerry.
In 2008 I voted for Obama.
Today in The Week I read a snippet titled “The GOP: Growing Panic on the Right”. The Week is a digest of what has happened in the world during the seven days prior to its publication. It is brilliantly edited, and seems to be balanced: each digested recount of a happening is made up of editorially arranged quotes and paraphrased continuations of those quotes that tell a (usually) two sided story about whatever is being presented.
“Panic on the Right” nets out to the following: there isn’t anybody on offer from the republicans that is of the sort to win the presidency and to subsequently be President and that is obvious; but, that aside, Romney is going to win the nomination and win the presidency.
I had long before come to that grim assessment of the situation.
But wait, there is, and always has been, more.
In the process of my seeing and hearing everything that has been involved in my coming to the same assessment as the digested presentation of The Week I have gone through, what is for me, the inevitable urge to stray from the Democrats – when I am given, what I deem to be compelling reasons for straying. And Obama has done an effective job of giving me those compelling reasons.
While under the influence of that urge to stray I have tried to decide who would be someone I would consider voting for from the republicans (now that they are a cult I now don’t capitalize the name of the GOP). The cavalcade of clowns that is currently vying for the nomination has one person who – in spite of his constant need to throw raw meat to the cult – makes a lot of sense and knows a great deal about the world and America’s place in it. But no one is listening to John Huntsman. Going outside the cavalcade, Chuck Hagel came to mind. But he hasn’t even tried to see if any one would listen. He knows better.
But then it came to me.
And the revelation that came to me allowed me to return to Obama, just as I had on that election night so long ago returned to Humphrey. And I return with that same burst of enthusiasm.
That revelation was: anybody nominated by the republicans, no matter how much he or she might know, or how much sense he or she might make, and no matter how much I might believe that he or she could get the country back on the right track, could not make it happen.
Anyone elected by a cult is beholden to that cult and must, needs be, push, promote, propose and support the beliefs and the policies of that cult.
And that is an America that I don’t ever want to see.