Monday, September 15, 2008

Morning in America

This weekend I found out that one of my best friends is going to be sent to Iraq. He is as a 42 year old, father of four and apparently our war effort just can't get along without him. The conversations I've had this weekend have been illuminating to say the least. I find that people who were optimistic that Obama would win or that Americans would be able to see past the color of a candidates skin are now only hopeful (and there is a difference) that will be the case. We have reached a point in this campaign where we are no longer able to look through rose colored glasses. This is as real as it gets. Our futures and the future of the world will be decided in the next 50 days. The American people need to wake up and realize what is at stake.

This is not a game. This is not a movie. This is not "Working Girl" where the plucky secretary is secretly the smartest person in the office or "Wall Street" where the evil, money hungry investor gets his in the end. This is real life people. Sarah Palin, who thinks that foreign policy experience is gained by her proximity to the remotest part of Russia, is actually in line to be Vice President! How can that not scare the shit out of everyone? How can the judgment of John McCain be trusted when his biggest decision to date was made not in the best interest of the country, but to serve his own ambition? Does this fill anyone with confidence? Does this make anyone sleep better at night? When someone who graduated from Columbia University and then went on to be President of the Harvard Law Review is deemed "elitist" and therefore unfit for the Presidency, yet a Journalism major from the University of Idaho and someone who finished 5th from the bottom of their graduating class are held up as epitomizing American values, then this country has clearly lost its way. There was a time when America valued the "best and the brightest".

There was a time when going to good schools and doing well at them was valued. Now the standard for leadership seems to be whether the person is someone you would like to have a beer with. When did America become the champion of such mediocrity? When did we replace competence with conviction. When did being thoughtful and right become the red headed stepchild to being confident and wrong? This country has just been through eight years of "leadership" which has led to America being involved in two wars (one of which was clearly a mistake), record home foreclosures, chaos in our financial institutions, less money for the middle class, high unemployment, record deficits, a widening trade imbalance, the national shame that was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a loss of respect among the international community, sky rocketing fuel costs, and on and on. This is the record the Republican administration has built and yet somehow the current Republican candidate is running on a theme of bringing change to Washington. Who exactly is he referring to when he speaks about change? Is he talking about his own party which has been in control of the White House for the past 7-1/2 years? Is he talking about the Republicans who have been in control of the Congress for 12 of the past 14 years? Who is he talking about? Does anyone else find this absolutely ridiculous?

The press has to do its job! There are not two sides to the truth. It is not up to the American people to decide the "truth". The press has to arm the American people with the facts and flat out state when someone is lying to them. That is their job. Their job is not be impartial with regards to the political parties, their job is to be impartial with regards to the truth. If the press gives equal weight to a lie, then they are essentially doing the job of a propagandist. They are perpetuating a lie to the benefit of an individual or group. The press should call each of the parties on their lies. That is being impartial. That is serving the American people. And that is not what they are currently engaged in.

I can only ask that the American people take a long hard look at the road ahead and think about who would is best prepared to lead us down that road. We face challenges that are going to require a lot of thought and debate. We are going to need a leader that not only understands those challenges, but has the strength to admit mistakes and change course when needed. The challenges ahead will require more than a Bulldog mentality (look at where that has gotten us), they will require intelligence and a nuanced approach in order to make America the place that the world looks to for moral guidance once again. We have been knocked off our stride by an approach that favored dogma over reality. The world is not black and white and you cannot govern as if it is without facing dire consequences. For the last eight years we have seen what that looks like and the question for America is do you want more of the same?

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