It kind of hit me at work the other day.
I think that republicans are afraid this time around. I have worked at the same place for a little over 10 years now, lived in the same community for more than 14 years, and gone to the same church for a little over 13 years. I am a bit settled in my ways.
I am also known as the local "crazy" liberal.
Funny, I never have thought of myself as crazy. I think I'm middle of the road, actually. But I guess we all think we're the middle.
During the 2000 and 2004 elections, the republicans in my workplace, church and community never bothered to really engage me in debate. Usually the conversations were more of a gloating on their part. I was ridiculed for backing Gore and Kerry. Both ran questionable campaigns, to be certain, but both were also obviously patriots and dedicated public servants.
But something is different this year. My republican and right-wing friends are actually trying to engage me in debate on issues. Not sure why, actually, but I have noticed that they always leave the debate at one point when they get stumped.
One friend said that he will vote for McCain simply because he feels that McCain will best protect his (my friend's) wallet. It's all about maximizing his own cash flow; the rest of the country be damned. I guess that this type of voter has always been around, but I've never really encountered one (or at least one who is so bold about his feelings). I think that he is afraid not only of an Obama presidency, but also of larger majorities in each house of congress.
I also have several pro-war friends. Again, none of these friends bothered me much in 2004. They knew I was against the war and simply ignored me for it. This time around, they're scared. They engage me in debate over the war and usually (and I'm being serious here, no hyperbole) they end up red-faced or with bulging veins in their foreheads as the debate progresses. I usually entertain their debates in a good natured manner. However, when I get tired of the same old talking points (Good Lord above, I still hear about WMD and that evil Saddam Hussein), I lean forward in my chair, look deeply into their eyes and ask simply what we're supposed to be "winning" over there. My pro-war friends are so afraid of "cut and run" or "losing" but have absolutely no idea of what they want to win. I mean there's not one of them that can vocalize a specific concrete goal that would mean that we've won. They just want to win. I once asked this friend if winning would mean wiping all Muslims out in Iraq and he verbally agreed before he thought about what he was saying. I think that deep down inside he really feels that way, and it saddens me.
One pro-war buddy was being stymied by me in our debate one day when the conpany controller walked in. My pro-war friend saw an ally (after all, aren't all upper management people always republicans?) and engaged the controller to talk some "sense" into me. Oops... The controller declared his support for Obama for no reason other than ending the war. I really think that McCain's 100-year war idea scared the controller straight. The controller explained that he saw nothing to win in Iraq and he was tired of spending our money needlessly over there. I wanted to engage the controller about wasting lives over there, but let is slide.
My pro-war buddy valiantly engaged the controller, but to no avail. Mr. pro-war stormed out of my office with a parting shot about the liberals just wanting to "lose" the war.
An interesting post-script to this debate is that one of the owners of the company found out about our discussion and decided to pin the controller down. The owner asks: "Why do you support Obama... one reason?" The controller responds "Because he will raise taxes on the rich." Owner walks away speechless. I only with I had been there to see it.
Just after the Edwards endorsement, my boss' boss pokes his head into my office and notices that I have printed a picture of Obama and Edwards from that day. Boss' boss starts foaming at the mouth (not literally, but close to it). He goes into a rant that was so incoherent I cannot really write anything about it here. What did strike me was that as he stormed out, he punched (literally) the picture of Obama and Edwards hanging on my office door and said that me and my "f***ing friends" were going to ruin this country. Our department secretary, who sits right ourside my office, heard it all. She waited untli boss' boss left and then suggested that I should use some Sharpies and draw black eyes on both Obama and Edwards and possibly add a bleeding lip. While I found the idea quite funny, I passed.
I guess that what I am saying is that the republicans in my little corner of the world are no longer dismissing us. They're frightened. That, ladies and gentlemen, should spur us on to dig in deeper. The fight's coming. We had better be ready. Someone said around these parts that Obama wants his campaign to behave as if it were always 10 points behind. We need to keep that in mind. Things may look promising now, but it's going to be a long five months.