By A Landslide
Change has become the lexicon of politics these days. Every politician from local races up to national contests is uttering the change word. Each seems to bring a new meaning and gusto, each of them the greatest champion of their nuanced and spun definition of change. Each candidate expanding the prior definition to form the “true” character and context of change to better overlay their record and platform. I feel a primal urge to say “ug Change - Good” in my best Neanderthal.
In the 70’s I was a bright eyed small town hick with a drawl fresh to the Berkeley campus. I reveled in anything that could speak to my inner Neanderthal. The context of the home and community that had raised me was - sexist, racist, militaristic, Evangelical Christian. The problem was that I never felt like I was the desired product of my environment. I craved a new voice, a new community with a new perspective. One that resonated with who I was on the inside, a voice that made me feel a part of. I craved CHANGE. Berkeley in the 70’s? It was my pilgrimage to Mecca. The progressive voices were powerful; they were the dominant paradigm and what I had been thirsting for. I drank cool-aid from the fire hose and didn’t care that it wasn’t sugar free. I believed if I could be moved in an emotional way, in a primal way, with a deep resonance, then I had found a “universal truth”. The world moved. Ug Change – Good.
The ensuing years have done a lot to expand the girth of me; the girth of my waist, of my mind, of my experience, of my responsibilities, of my bank account, of my family and of my values. As a progressive I ask you to forgive me for using “family and values” in the same sentence and in this article. I do realize that those two words were the lexicon of prior election cycles, forever tainting their contextual wrapper in my mind and the mind of America. I am sad for the loss of their original meaning.
I am undecided in this election cycle of change.
I resonated with Congressman’s Dr. Ron Paul’s brand of change, the rabid anti-war and fiscal accountability. Of bringing every US solider back to US soil and ending our “Empire”. I liked his ideas of smaller federal government and more powerful state government, seeing it as a path to diversity of culture. I trusted him to be whom and what he presented himself as; his record was consistent with his ideals. Yet once the symbiotic phase had passed and I measured him more, I changed. No matter how much I supported him I never wanted him to be President. The reality was I just wanted to cherry pick some of his planks and consistency of character and have them in the White House. I just didn’t believe that he would be a good executive. He has never really been successful in accomplishing his agenda, a skill my business experience has taught me is of paramount importance in a Sr. Executive. Ug Change - Good
Senator Hillary Clinton was one of my idols when she was First Lady and working on changing healthcare. She became the rights favorite whipping “boy” as a tool to get at her husband. She earned my undying respect and admiration for her courage and strength. She took the worst and nastiest assaults that the Rush Limbaugh’s, Newt Gengrich’s and right wing talking heads and media threw at her. She was a genuine, powerful and progressive woman, and she did it with her shoulders back and her head held high. Just the same way she took the public humiliation of Monica Lewinsky, head high and shoulders back. Then she changed, she read the polls and moved to the middle. She left the left and we were the worse for it. I sat in a room of Hilary insiders, including two staffers, (one VERY senor) to watch the first debate. I was hoping to find the new and improved version someone that I could support; I was in ug Change – Good mode. I was being courted to manage raising money in my state by her west coast fund raiser. When the debate was over one of the 20 or so people in the room got up to make a comment on the debates, her response so enraged me that I left the room and left Senator Clinton. The lady stood and said “I don’t care if she did great or bad I’m still going to vote for her, I vote women only now and she is the only woman”. The unabashed sexist comment went unchallenged, was allowed to be embraced. I left unabashed sexism when I left my little town in the 70’s. The Senator might not have let it lie, but the community did.
Senator Barak Obama is the darling of the mainstream media. A statement generally strong enough to make me go howling in the opposite direction. I stick around and look because everyone that I know supports him. A friend of mine who lives in Chicago even called me when he was running for Senator to tell me about this “amazing politician”. I query my friends and colleagues as to what it is that they like in him. I am told of how they swoon when he speaks, and each says ug Change – Good. I see in their eyes the same feelings I had when as a college kid and I was drinking cool-aid from the fire hose. I know how strong the desire is to break away from the stifling messages of the last 8 years, I know from a lifetime of overcoming them. Then the girth of my years comes to play, I remember that it is more than oratory and platitudes that constitute the change I look for, Jim Jones had cool-aid too. I only know of Senator Obama’s positions because of my reading, not from anything I have heard him say. I hear my “enlightened and liberal” friends say they will vote for him because he is black. The racist statement seemingly OK when the “for or against” part of it is inverted. Ug Change – Good.
I too crave change, I believe it is part of the human condition to want to grow, and I believe there is a great deal of difference between the word “change” and the word “growth.” I hope that this election doesn’t affect my feelings about “change” the way that “family values” has already been co-opted.
Maybe I’ll change my internal Neanderthal to “ug Growth – Good”.