As always, colored text are hyperlinks to cool stuff.
Last night I went to my friend Tina’s to install a wireless router.
Tina is the happily married mother of two children. Having worked with her for nine years, I envied her relationship with her spouse. The way she consistently refers to him as “babe” is something I would adopt (and as Natalie can attest, I have). She comes from a white middle-class family of six siblings (it might be seven, anything over three to me is a lot). Her sister Becky, who is ridiculously pretty, and a mother of five (and before I start getting letters, when most people think “mother of five” you don’t think “hottie,” I usually think “tired”). Becky has a special needs daughter who is nothing short of remarkable. Tina’s husband is a (very) small business owner (he may be his only employee) and a hell of a nice guy. They are card carrying Christians and by that I mean she’s very conscious of what her children are exposed to, they attend service every Sunday and while I am programming their router I can hear their father leading them in prayer before they eat their Wendy’s cheeseburgers. And although she an dher siblings disagree at times, you can tell there is love there. Regardless of your beliefs, I imagine it’s hard to vilify someone you’ve known since you were born who is sitting across the Thanksgiving Day table.
As I was walking into her home I noticed she has a “Sarah!” sticker on the back window of her SUV centered neatly between stickers of her children’s sports activities. It isn’t surprising especially when you read that previous paragraph. I believe people’s political affiliations are like their religions or parenting skills. I may ask questions to understand how you got the choices you’ve made but I won’t criticize you for them. What struck me as odd, and it isn’t the first time I have seen that sticker, is they are promoting a Vice-Presidential candidate.
The first election I remember was 1980. John Anderson, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. I mention Anderson because I remember being puzzled that there were three guys at a debate. My first election was 1992. My friend Jessica (Sexson) Zins’ father and I would talk politics and he being much older and worldly than I (and a member of Mensa) and I was… well I was twenty and way, way out of my league. In my naïveté, I remember saying something about how much I respected Al Gore and he told me, “nobody votes for the Vice-President.” After last night I started thinking; I don’t remember ever seeing advertising with “Gore!” or “Lieberman!” on it. I still don’t see any “Biden!” stickers and even Republicans can admit a “Quayle!” or “Cheney!” sticker would probably have done more harm than good.
So on the way to work I called Jessica (which I usually do because she’s now an Indiana stay-at-home mother of three and the twenty minutes between 8:00a and 8:20a when she’s available without kids demanding her attention). I asked, “Does the do-it-all mom, Christian, folksy, Everyday Joe image of Sarah Palin appeal to you?” With little hesitation, she said, “Yes.” She explained that she seems smart like someone she could sit down and have a conversation with. She felt she possessed common sense and the qualities necessary to represent her.
The she asked me, “Do you not like her?”
And I explained she annoys the shit out of me. It annoys me that the Republican Party has distracted people from their actual candidate and people have bought it, often because she’s likable. That folksy, down home, “I’m not like those city folk” bullshit wears thin on me real quick. I hate it when James Carville does it (although I laugh every time because he’s like some genius hillbilly Lex Luthor). I remember listening to Real Radio 104.1 and Jim Phillips asked why people like George W Bush so much. A caller summarizes what a lot of people thought, he was like them. He was likeable. He wore cowboy hats and had done some drinking and wasn’t a stereotypical politician. Someone said he seemed like a guy you could have a beer with.
And then Jim Phillips somehow read my mind. That’s fine and dandy, but is that the guy you want sitting across from the leader of Russia trying to talk us out of a war? Is that the guy you want making decisions about how best to run the economy? I don’t want Joe Six Pack doing that job. I don’t know if I want Joe Six Pack doing my taxes at the H&R Block in the mall next to the Panda Express. I want someone smarter than me. I want someone smarter than most of the people I know.
But this is what it’s come to. We’ve always voted on the candidate’s images. But to vote for John McCain because Sarah Palin is on a ticket (and keep in mind, she was appointed that position, not chosen like eighteen million people who elected Barack Obama in the primaries), is no better than me voting for Obama because he’s black like me. No better than voting for John McCain because he’s not black like me. Jessica once explained the Sweet Valley High novels she read in her youth and when she told me about them she said, in retrospect, she probably liked them not because they were good, but because the lead character was named Jessica. And that’s the behavior I expect from children.
Let’s understand something here. I am not criticizing anybody with a “Palin!” sticker on their car but more the concept of supporting a Vice-Presidential candidate over the Presidential candidate. Everybody has their own reasons they vote and that’s their business. I have said nothing here that I wouldn’t say to anyone’s face except I believe, like child-rearing and religion, you choose what works for you in politics. That’s your business and I’ll leave you to your own devices.
The point to this is it took me almost twenty years but I was right with Jessica’s father. I guess we do vote for Vice-Presidents.
PS – You could make the argument that the title of this blog is derogatory calling Palin followers lemmings. The original title was “Vice-Precedents.” In truth, it’s just a clever title and Jimmy likes puns. I also called my friend Tina and asked for her permission before I posted it and she agreed. I didn’t, however, call Jessica since she doesn’t have the internet and like making fun of the Amish on television, she’ll never find out.