Thursday, October 30, 2008

down ticket

Who are you voting for? And I don't mean for President of the United States. For those of you who, like myself, are not able to vote early and/or who have not voted yet - what other choices will you have to make on your ballot? I took a look at the sample ballot for my voting ward, so that I would know ahead of time. Since every other local election has been relatively quiet in comparison to the Presidential election, I honestly did not know what else might be asked of me as a voter in the booth. Turns out that where I live, "down [the voting] ticket" there are at least two state-wide positions, four referendum questions, and some state general assembly positions that I'm going to have to weigh in on. I'd hate to go in there and just pick people at random, like I used to do when I first started voting and I didn't think about down ticket races until they were literally staring me in the face.

I put some research into my presidential pick. It wouldn't make sense to not put the same amount of effort into the other races and issues! Especially since - no offense to the future President - the next President will probably have less impact on my daily life and weekly paycheck than the locally elected officials that most people put little effort into choosing or monitoring. Every four years, I pay lots of attention to the presidential race. But I'm a little more mature now. I'm paying taxes. I'm going to be starting a family. There is too much at stake for me to fail to pay attention to what's going on with my state assembly and local officials, not just Congress and the President. The next president will not be able to put his hands directly on my local issues! To the extent the next president will change anything in my life, it will happen over time, after filtering down through the various levels of government. Meanwhile, decisions about finance, safety, education, even the water I drink, will be made right here where I live and in my state capital. It would just be stupid to pull the lever for a president and leave the booth thinking I've done my job as a voter.

If I am going to properly pay homage to the role and rights of the citizenship my ancestors fought so hard to give me, not only do I have to exercise my voting privileges, I must also take them seriously and follow through. I traced my family tree and found ancestors who could not read, and who were probably prohibited from voting and having a say in Chesterfield County, Virginia during Jim Crow. They couldn't say their peace. But I can. I have a say!

So, as I've done for the last few elections, I went online and found out who was running down ticket. I checked them out by reading a bunch of different things that matter to me, like experience, records, and platforms, and then I made my best educated guess on which candidates would be best for the positions. (Actually, I'm still deciding on one of them - it's a tough decision, and I'm glad I still have a few days to mull it over). Then I checked out the referendum questions and figured out my yesses and noes. I feel so much better and more responsible now. And if the ultimate winners - up or down ticket - ultimately screw up, I'm coming back to vote them out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Lately I've just been exercising my faith muscles. There's a lot going on with me lately. You can't worry about every damn thing. Sometimes you need to just recognize that you do what you can, and what you can't do... you'll deal with, like you've dealt with everything else you couldn't control. Faith is an excellent tool for that.

So many people seem to be atheists and agnostics. It's getting more and more acceptable for people who don't subscribe to "organized religion" to say so and not be reviled. I'm glad that our society has become tolerant enough for that. That said, I don't really understand atheists. Not because I think you have to have an organized code to live by in order to live well and compassionately, but because I can't imagine life without faith. I totally understand agnostics' reluctance to state with certainty a belief in something that they cannot prove with certainty. I personally believe that the difference between someone who is agnostic and someone who subscribes to religion is a choice of whether or not they choose a faith.

I don't think faith is an easy thing. It may be for children, who wide-eyed and trusting, will accept what they are told. But I believe that maturing minds must try what they profess to believe. They should examine it and ask questions. They must, at some point, come to terms with the limits of their knowledge, and then in turn decide whether or not they are comfortable with those limitations. Even still, they must decide, what explanation, if any, answers the questions many of us have about the nature of life, our purposes, and our futures. In my mind, this process is where the atheist parts from the agnostic, and the agnostic from the religious adherents.

In any case, whatever you choose, it was chosen. Atheists choose not to believe in anything. Agnostics choose not to believe the same things that religious adherents choose to believe. But it is a choice, and for those religious adherents who try to strengthen their faith through trials, it is a continually made choice. I have to constantly make the choice to be a person of faith and subscribe to the religion that I have chosen. I do it because I find faith to be filling and inspiring. I find it to be strengthening and empowering. When I need it to be, I find it to be chastening and character building. I don't think that I'm a mental midget because I recognize the limits of my understanding. Though my faith is cerebral in many ways, it has more to do with the inclination of my heart and intuition. And I am okay with that. It is enough for me. I believe that where my limits are, the Creator I believe in takes over. I can't imagine an existence without that.

I believe that in my various day to day concerns, it is He in whom I believe that makes everything work out alright in the end.

I don't need to push this on anyone else. But if anyone is open to it, I would gladly share my faith. I hope to mature to a point in my faith where people see my wellness and want to know what it is that sustains me. But in my mind, regarding public life, my faith is private, not because I'm ashamed, but because I figure that I don't want anyone telling me what to believe, so in turn, I think it is the merciful and loving thing to do to avoid assaulting others' will with my own. I understand that other people of faith can be a pain in the ass, with all their attempts to insinuate their beliefs into public life. But it troubles me - all of the ridicule that people of faith are increasingly subjected to as nonbelievers find an increasingly braver audience in each other. And I'm not just talking about that movie, either. Many of the depictions of people of faith are downright insulting and disrespectful. End of tangent.

I'm thankful for my faith. It has been a much needed medicine for me lately. I am so glad to have it. I am so very blessed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

we know who they are

We know about the latest rallies of McCain and Palin, and how they are getting a tremendously angry, vicious, and self-righteous response in their rallies from their Republican voters. I was reading a comment made in LH's blog - that the Republicans are looking and smelling like the Dixiecrats. It sent me on a tangent of my own, and this is how I responded:

And of course, they look and smell like the Dixiecrats, because they took actual Dixiecrats, who were frustrated in their original party, into the fold once upon a time. Had the Democratic presidents of the sixties not worked with and supported the civil rights changes we were asking for, they’d have had no reason to jump ship. Even today, their arguments for small government and states’ rights echo the arguments of the segregationist Dixiecrats, who found such arguments convenient when being told by the federal government that Jim Crow had to end. (For clarity, I’m not saying that either of these ideas are inherently racist, but they were the best way for segregationists to legally argue against extending full citizenship to blacks without explicitly saying that nigras don’t deserve citizenship, since that argument has no legal merit.)

You’d think that Dixiecrat sentiment would have died out over the past 40 years, as people like Strom Thurman have died off. But Republicans like Nixon and Reagan kept stoking the fire by contributing things like the Silent Majority and the Welfare Queen to political thought. By the time Dubya got in, he really didn’t even have to do any work to keep the Dixiecrat mentality going, because the Angry White Man syndrome had taken on a life of its own, complete with propaganda and coded language. So coded in fact, that I think some of today’s Republicans don’t even realize the racist legacy of the ideas they espouse. Through successful propaganda and indoctrination, they believe that their views are truest to the spirit of the Constitution and the soul of the country itself. They have hijacked and twisted the Republican party, which only a few generations ago wasn’t known as the default party for racists.

Even now, we’re hearing the word Socialist thrown about by them. They’re not worried about the rise of Marxism, believe me - many of them don’t even understand what it’s about. But if you look back to the Red Scare and McCarthyism, many of the people whose lives, privacy, and careers were targeted were minorities and people with sympathies towards minorities and the poor at home and abroad. Same goes for today. If you want the government to get involved in helping people who are having problems helping themselves (name any Democrat here), you’re liable to be branded a Socialist, like Barack Obama has been labeled recently. Anything to get people who care about the minorities and lower classes branded as un-American.

1960’s parlance: “nigger loving Communist”
2000’s parlance: “un-American Socialist”

No wonder John Lewis compared them to George Wallace. He was absolutely right.

I try to view elections through an Independent lens, because depending on the issue, I may feel either conservative or liberal. But the Republicans keep making it hard for me, because of stuff like this.