Talk about the silly season. No matter how much people say in advance "let's not talk politics," it never seems to work. At every social gathering I've been to for the past several week, it seems the topic of conversation eventually gets around to politics.
Here are a few gems.
Two weeks ago I was at dinner with a group of people--all Republicans. It's part of a literature club I attend. The idea is that one person reads a book and "presents" it to the group.
Aside form me and one other guy, everyone is either a Republican, a conservative Republican, or a far-right Republican. We talk a bit of politics, but it's usually about getting together and talking books. But politics always comes in, and it's always friendly.
In 2004 they were downright giddy. In 2006 they weren't quite sure what to say. Three months ago one of the Republicans presented . That was quite a stir, but he ended by saying "you know what? I think I may actually vote for this guy." We took a vote and asked how many thought Barack would win--only myself and the other Democrat raised our hands. Last month 3 of the 12 raised hands. Last week every single person raised hands indicating they thought Barack Obama would be the next president. "But I don't like it," one said, laughing.
My department is filled with liberals for the most part, although there are two conservatives. One is kind of whacko--he thought that if Clinton were elected in 1992 that that would signal the onset of the End Times. This is also a guy who went around town lecturing on the danger of the Y2K problem, even though he's never used a computer in his life.
Anyway, the two men now talk in furtive tones about the onset of socialism in the United States, and how the election of a black man to office just might be a signal of the beginning of . . . yes . . . the end times. So I asked the one guy if he did indeed think it was the beginning of the End Times, would he mind signing the titled to his car and the deed to his house over to me. "You know, just in case." No response.
One of my students has been wearing a McCain/Palin shirt to class every day for the past two weeks. I don't know if it's the same shirt or what. Last week I sent the following e-mail out, which is a true story:
Next Tuesday we go to the polls to cast a vote for the 44th president of the United States. You need to go vote. There are no classes that day.
There's lots of reasons to get out and vote, and I won't bore you with the "civic duty" stuff. But I'll tell you a story from a class I was teaching a couple of years ago--in 2006. We we're talking about going to vote, and getting out to vote, etc. One student mentioned that it was hard to get to the polls if you didn't have a car, or couldn't find a ride, etc.
A couple of other students chimed in to also say that they too had a hard time voting. Then another student--a guy I'd had in a few different classes, first in 2003-04, then on 06-07 chimed in. He said:
"I was in Iraq, and I was shot three times. Some of my friends didn't get to come back. Don't talk to me about what's hard."
See, he was one of those student-soldiers you hear about. He was a student, then went away and served. Then he came back. He finished his degree as a history major. He was a good student, and I liked him alot. He and I didn't always agree on everything, but he was smart and he worked hard. He earned an "A" from me in every one of my classes he took. He's still in the Army.
But in that one class he reminded all of us of a lesson that's easy to forget: voting is easy compared to some of the shit other people have gone through to make this country succeed.
Whoever you plan to vote for doesn't much matter. Get out and participate. Make your voice heard.
The student came up to me at the next class and said "great story, make sure you vote. I'll be voting McCain (duh!) to support that soldier." I didn't have the the heart to tell him that the soldier also once lectured a few of my students [before class] about how the war in Iraq was essentially unwinnable, and how he'll be voting for Democrats for the rest of his life.
At a party last night that was mostly gay folks aside from three straight couples, one group of people was talking about the election. I was with another person talking about anything but. Still, I couldn't help overhear what was going on. At one point the woman says "Well I'm gay, and I'm voting for McCain."
I'd been pretty good that night, studiously avoiding politics--I really just wanted a break. But at that I turned around and said "Are you kidding me? McCain and Palin hate people like you. The Republican Party platform stands against everything you stand for." She responded with "I know, I know. But I just don't like Obama. He just doesn't seem honest to me."
Seriously? Not honest? That's what you've got? I guess I could understand if the issue were a disagreement over handling the economy, Iraq, or any of a dozen policy things, but "not honest?" You must be out of your mind. A dozen replies came into my head, but I just sort of laughed and said "OK, sure. Whatever." and let it go at that.
So, there ya go. A few stories from the near-end of the silly season.
Get out and vote, and bring some people with you.