Sunday, August 31, 2008

Presidential Thoughts

Here's the deal. I don't care how you align yourself politically. Whether you are for McCain or Obama is up to you. My problem is when people decide they are either Republican or Democratic and vote accordingly without knowing where their candidate stands -- what is their platform? Even worse, is when people vote based on the popular thing. Recently McCain's campaign came out with an ad stating that Obama is just a celebrity. He's gotten a lot of heat for that. But, really, come on. No one can deny that. This election seems more of a high school popularity contest more than ever. I'm not meaning to offend anyone...but am I the only one who sees this? Before this ad came out, I watched the Obama family on Access Hollywood -- a tabloid news show. That was so weird to me. I would understand 20/20 or Dateline because those have a better reputation of being tv news journalism. But Access Hollywood?

At the Democratic National Convention, it was more of a party than a national convention. According to one journalist, "This seems to me the edgiest Democratic National Convention since 1988. ... his rock star performances are turning more voters off than on." Sheryl Crow performed, pumping up the audience for the main event. Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and Will.I.Am also performed. When interviewed, Fergie, yes, the Fergie who sings Fergilicious, stated that being at the convention was like being at the Super Bowl. Now, I'm glad that politics has her so jazzed, but really. Is she excited about the candidate, Barack (which interestingly enough means "peach" in Hungarian), or is she excited to participate in another part of a celebrity fiasco, in the name of politics? Jessica Alba was also interviewed and she too commented on the energy and excitement. Once again, if this because she is sincerely interested in Obama's platform, that's great, but I'm not convinced. I'm an Oprah fan, I am. But there is video of her crying at the convention. Crying?! Mary J. Blige is hugging her along with Oprah's life long friend, Gayle.

As far as I can tell, his platform on most issues is not that different from Hillary Clinton's, or even John Kerry, for that matter, who lost to George Bush, who wasn't all that popular at the time. So what is it with Obama? Is it because he's black? Is it because he conjures images of John F. Kennedy with his young age and young family? Because clearly, there is something more to the Obama frenzy than his traditional democratic platform.

I believe that Barack Obama is a good man. I believe he has good intentions -- which I didn't believe Hillary Clinton had. I think she wanted power and status. Barack, however, I believe wants to be President because he believes that our nation can be better and he wants to help lead us to that greatness. I also think he has a presidential look -- he is charismatic, distinguished, polished, articulate, and over all seems to be sharp. That is all good. But the manner in which we draw attention to ourselves reflects a bit of our personality, character, and general attitudes. I personally feel that actors and musicians supporting a candidate should hold very little weight against the real, everyday American voters. Who is this candidate anyway? Doesn't a voter want to believe that their president relates with and understands the average American? I don't relate to Hollywood. My life is anything but Hollywood and the flashing lights distract me from his message. I'm afraid it is distracting many Americans from his real message as well.

"Clearly the Obama campaign saw this speech as Step One in humanizing a candidate who, as I have referenced above, is seen as a cerebral prodigy, as an inspiring orator, as (in the views of some) the object of adoration of a cult—but not as a guy we feel we know as a human being." Perhaps people feel this way because of all the celebrity attention. This was the case before McCain mentioned it, and, in my opinion, it is even more the case now.

Vote for Obama if you feel he is the man best for the job. If you agree with his views on taxes, economy, health care, abortion, foreign policy, traditional marriage, and of course the war on Iraq (all of these I do have my own opinions on, but that is not the topic of this entry of course). Vote for him if you understand his policies and where he wants to take the country. The same is for McCain. But don't shout praises in the name of Obama simply because it's popular. Vote for him because you agree with him and because you believe, based on the facts, that the "change" he speaks of is for the better. Likewise, vote for McCain because you agree that his "country first" campaign really will put the state of our country in a better place.

7 comments:

AJ said...

This is such a good blog. I always love how eloquent you are. It is no wonder that you are an English teacher.
Anyway, I totally agree with you on all of this. I am currently reading one of his books just out of curiosity and see if I can understand more of what he is about and to learn more about where he stands politically. But I would not be comfortable voting for either candidate solely based on the charisma I see that they have. Anyway, great blog, you said it very well.

Vanessa Swenson said...

I think the thing that makes me laugh the most about this whole celebrity thing is that Ronald Reagan was a bona fide celebrity. The same claims of inexperienced swirled around him as well before the election, to say nothing of decrying his celebrity status.
As a funny note, two of the musicians set to perform at this week's Republican convention: John Rich (singing "Raisin' McCain") and Daddy Yankee of Reggaeton fame(infamy?).
The conventions always have music like this and have for decades. They use it as filler time to keep the crazies in the audience occupied.

I think you're right, though. The real trick is to cut thru all of the punches and counter-punches of fluff and get to whether or not you agree with a candidate's views on a whole plethora of issues.
I thought Barack's speech was enlightening on his views (which I'd followed for years) and I'm really hoping that McCain will be able to give his speech this week.

I love reading people's opinions about politics. It's always enlightening. I'm glad you posted.

Erin said...

I agree with you. I have felt it's a popularity contest as well. I bet not a lot of people even know what the candidates stand for if they are asked. That is sad to me.

Heidi Ashworth said...

You said it so well. I couldn't quite put my finger on what has been bothering me so much about what is going on in politics right now. I think the people are at fault. Sorry America, but our priorities are all screwed up. It's really sad.

Scott and Valary Smith said...

Well said. Scott is very into polotics too and his opinion of Barack is that he is a Socialist. He really wants to help America and that is by doing lots of big government things (like national healthcare) which will take power away from the people. He wants to do great things for this country but at the expense of personal freedoms. We have been reading a book called The Red Carpet by Ezra Taft Benson that has some intersting ideas of how socialism and communism start and Obama is right on the mark. I know your blog was about figuring out who the candidates are and what they are really stading for so thanks for letting me digress... Good luck in your move!

Anonymous said...

I know this isn't exactly what you are saying, but how can you blame Obama for attracting attention? He is a prolific, magnetic speaker who people flock to. How can you hold him at fault for being, as you say, "a celebrity"? 18 months ago few people outside of Illinois had hardly heard of him. He was quite impressive at the 2004 dem convention, but still only had name recognition in the 20-30% range vs. McCain's recognition in the 70-80% range. So who is the celebrity.

I respect your opinion and this is a health discussion that hopefully draws more people in and they educate themselves about positions the candidates hold.

My personal opinion is that John McCain holds no opinions, because it is very difficult to find a stance he holds that he hasn't totally flopped on since 2000. His personal statement that the only reason he is running is to fulfill his personal ambition and not to push an agenda or issue on the USA.

Vanessa Swenson said...

Anon:
Everyone running for president has ambition to be such. Where did the crazy idea come from that only people who fall into it should be president?
And can we put the whole flipflop thing to rest? Every human changes opinions. Obama has.
And no, I'm not voting for McCain/Palin. I'm a staunch Obama fan, have been for years. I wear T-Shirts, buttons, have signs and have donated to the campaign.

These ambition arguments and flipflop complaints are the fluff.
Do you have a complaint about a McCain's stance? Why not voice that with strong reasoning rather than attacking with a totally ancillary complaint?
Both McCain and Obama are celebrities and both like attention. Have you ever met a person running for office who was timid?

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