Wednesday, April 16, 2008

From The Bitter Commonwealth

I'm looking forward to watching the debates tonight, although I'll be busy baking a birthday cake for the Baron while I do so.

I have to say, it's pretty amazing having the Pennsylvania primary election be of any consequence. Bill Clinton was in Doylestown the other night. Hillary was at Quakertown High School last night. I ran into Caroline Kennedy (we had met previously) stumping for Obama outside Starbucks last month.

I have to admit, I'm fascinated by the Bitter controversy. On the one hand, talk about mountains out of molehills. But on the other, speaking as a pennsylvanian who "clings" to religion, Obama's tone and phrasing were pretty off.

Am I bitter?

Only when I think about it. About how real wages haven't increased for people who do the kind of work I do since 1973. About how the economy is so totally in the tank right now that the want-ads in the local paper amount to three-quarters of a column looking for assistant dog groomers and the like. About how our corporate masters at Ho(t)me(n) Depot are pressuring us to sign up customers for store credit cards (if you want to shut down that sales pitch, just ask, "What's the APR on that?"). About the war in Iraq that's just become a sucking vortex, devouring everything that was good and noble about our country.

All that I find terrifically embittering.

That said, I am naively looking to the current election to give me respite from these bitter, bitter draughts. I'd like to pick up the New York Times and see stories about the President doing things that don't make me scream.

I say "naively" because I don't imagine that any of the contenders are really going to provide the kind of remedy that the situation calls for. "If elected, I promise a massive redistribution of income!" Where probably not going to be hearing that, dig?

But I drifted to the conservative end of the spectrum during the Clinton years when it seemed to me that government of whatever stripe was incapable of solving any fundamental problems. All that could be done was some tinkering around the edges and making people momentarily feel better. And if that's the case, than the proper role of government--or at any rate, the one thing that government can do, is to instill good values in the citizenry, such as respect for other, self-reliance, pluralism, hard work, and responsibility. Politics, I decided, was a great big game. And it didn't really matter who was elected.

And then George W. Bush got elected.

At the outset, I viewed him benignly. How much damage can he do? He seemed like an affable dunce.

Omigod was I ever so wrong about anything ever?

So I've amended my take: The people we elect can't do a hell of a lot to make things better, but they can do a hell of a lot to make things worse.

Thus, I'm considering the matter deeply.

I have to admit that although I have my preferences, I'm agnostic on the Obama-Clinton choice. What I do want very much is for the Pennsylvania primary to be decisive, for the Democratic primary race to be over either way, and for the party to be able to focus on defeating John McCain (whom I like and admire and to whom I gave money in 2000 but who hasn't given me any indication that his presidency would be anything more than Bush's third term).

Anyway. I have a cake to bake.

But I like my tea bitter! Does that count?

But all the same, I'm naively looking

1 comment:

Dennis said...

What I do want very much is for the Pennsylvania primary to be decisive, for the Democratic primary race to be over either way, and for the party to be able to focus on defeating John McCain

I support Obama, but if Hillary somehow won the nomination because of the PA primary I would cheer like a madman just because the damn primary would be over. I remember being so enthusiastic about the Democratic nominees last year because Democrats had two great candidates and there was no way we could possibly screw up so badly as to lose the general election. HA! Whoever wins the nomination is not only going to have to compete against McCain, but will also have to convince the other half of the party (and independents) to vote for her/him and I don't think that will be possible if we have to wait until the Democratic convention to get a nominee.