As I write this, it is January 2nd, 2012.
Two thousand and fucking twelve. Iowa Caucuses this week. It's starting to get really...real.
And yet I look over at the rec list, and here we go again...Obama pie fights to ring in the New Year! Oh, joy.
Like most Americans, I am not looking forward to the 2012 elections. In fact, just glancing over at that date on my computer screen, and thinking about what is going to be unleashed over the next 10 months is enough to give me a sense of impending doom much like I have heard people describe right before experiencing a major heart attack. My feelings may be a bit more intense because unlike most Americans, I will not be a passive observer in this election. I will be out there, on the ground, just like I was back in 2008.
Ah, 2008. Hard to imagine it was only 3 and some odd years ago. It feels like a lifetime. And yet, it feels like it was just yesterday. I wasn't dreading that election. For all of its intensity and insanity- from the primary wars, to Palin, to the deep divides that formed between friends and neighbors based on who's sign was in your yard and who's bumper sticker adorned your car, even as the ugly racism that still permeates this nation of ours was laid bare for the world to see, even as the world economy crashed down around us, the 2008 election was a positive and exciting time for me and most of the progressives I know. Because after 8 years of Bush, there was change in the air. A change as palpable as the falling leaves that crunched beneath my feet as I walked from door to door, my 18 month old daughter in tow looking impossibly cute in her oversized “My Mama is for Obama” sweater, creating a very effective buffer between me and the slammed doors and hurled invectives that I might be greeted with otherwise. Oh sure, it happened a few times. But for the most part, people were receptive. They were willing to listen. 8 years of Bush hadn't helped them any, they were open to the alternative.
The week leading up to the election, I drove down to Philly. Since my state was solid blue, and PA was such a battleground, I decided to go down there and stay with my good friend, and volunteer to help GOTV in the Philly suburbs. The mood out there was electric- just about every house in my friends neighborhood was adorned with Obama schwag- yard signs, signs in windows, one guy even had the Obama "Hope" poster projected onto the side of his house like a giant bat signal glowing in the night. The Obama HQ was right in the middle of downtown Philly and packed to the gills with people, and throughout it wafted the smell of various kinds of takeout mixed together, a cacophony of different voices and accents, a sea of faces in every shade, old and young alike. It was a beautiful atmosphere, one that restored my energy and made making those calls and knocking on those doors that much easier. It was that unmistakable, wonderful feeling of complete solidarity. And yes, that hopey changey thing.
On election night, as the results came in, I found out not from MSNBC but from an audible roar I heard rolling across the neighborhood. Spontaneous cheers of joy. And just like that, my friend and I just ran out into the street, along with about half the neighborhood- we jumped up and down, and cried, and screamed- I hugged complete strangers and we cried together. Someone brought out a bottle of champagne and we all had a toast out there in the street, and rejoiced and cheered to the sounds of car horns honking from every direction, all over Philly. And then, a little later on, my friend woke her young son, who is biracial, and as he rubbed the sleep dust out of his eyes, she cradled him in front of the TV- which was tuned in to Barack Obama, surrounded by his beautiful family, giving his victory speech at Hyde Park- and she told him with tears rolling down her cheeks that this was HIS president, and he could be whatever he wanted to be, because just look at that right there. That could be him someday. And for the first time, she would tell me later, she actually believed it.
It was a moment I will never forget. Not just because Obama was elected, but because for a moment in time, I was part of something so much bigger than myself.
I have no such illusions that it will be like that this time. Even if election night turns out the way I hope it does, I have a feeling I will greet that news with just a heavy sigh of relief rather than the unbridled joy I felt in 2008. But more than anything, I'm not looking forward to the ground game. No, I'm dreading it. Because this time I know that not only will I have to deal with conservatives cursing me out and slamming doors in my face, I'm going to get it from people on my side to. I know it because I read on here and on other progressive sites all the time how people ravish in unloading their criticism to those people who call them from OFA. I know it because even though I don't really participate in the flame wars, I do read them as they unfold. And I see a picture begin to emerge of what I am going to be faced with once I start hitting the pavement and making those calls in the coming months. And it aint pretty.
Lines in the sand are being drawn now. People are choosing sides. People are in fact, being forced to choose sides as the election draws near. “Are you voting for Obama or not? Are you with us, or against us? Who's side are you on?” Those are the questions being asked. And people are being judged based on how they answer that question. Are you an unrealistic purist who is just sad because you didn't get your pony, or are you a mindless drone who has no principals? You can see it playing out right now, in a very sad and ugly way, on the Rec list. Just as it has again, and again, and again, and again, for the past 3 years, with seemingly no end in site.
And I'm telling you right now, if this is what Daily Kos is going to look like for the next 10 months, you can count me out. Because I am NOT doing this shit. Not here. Not anymore.
How mind numbingly stupid is it that on January 2nd, 2012, TWO THOUSAND AND FUCKING TWELVE, are we still fighting about this? Why? What is it accomplishing? Is it helping the poor and disenfranchised? Is it winning hearts and minds? Is it helping defeat republicans? What is this tremendous amount of time and energy we are spending fighting with each other over Barack Obama- one man, ferfucksakes- accomplishing? And is it worth it?
I think the answer to that question is obviously NO. And I am not doing this shit anymore. I no longer care one fig if you are voting for Barack Obama in 2012. Seriously. I. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit.
One person who I KNOW will not be voting for Obama in 2012 is someone very close to my heart. He is an attorney who worked pro bono on helping my uncle, who was wrongfully incarcerated for almost 2 decades, get Habeus Corpus relief. He will not vote for Obama, under any circumstances because of his record on civil liberties.
Do I call him up randomly and say "Oh hai! I know you are working on the 1230981234'th appeal for my uncle, because even though he is 6 feet under the state is trying to screw him, but can I just ask you why the FUCK are you not voting for Obama in 2012?" No. The rule of law and civil liberties are his #1 issue, something he has dedicated his life to. It was that same passion that compelled him to spend all those thankless hours pouring over case records and filing briefs, unpaid and unrewarded for year after year, on behalf of a man who the system had long ago thrown away and forgotten about. Because he saw an injustice, and he felt compelled to correct it. And he did. And my uncle got to spend the last year of his life at home, with his family, because of his efforts. Do I care that this man is not voting for Obama? Not one iota.
Chris Hedges will also not be voting for Obama in 2012. He did not vote for Obama in 2008 either for that matter. Chris Hedges happens to be one of my favorite writers, and no one can touch him as far as I'm concerned when it comes to covering the issues on the ground in Isreal and Palestine and the GWOT. He is a man who was fired from the New York Times for having the audacity to tell the truth about the wars, back when doing so was seen as an act of treason. It is his passion for these issues that he writes about that makes him such amazing journalist. Do I care that he is not voting for Obama? As long as he keeps writing like he does, he can vote for whoever he wants.
I WILL, however, be voting for Obama in 2012.For many, many reasons- for the Supreme Court, for DADT, above all else for the Affordable Care Act. Yes, the dreaded "giveaway to private insurance companies and big pharma" that I have seen personally help many, many people. Which I know will help even more people once it is fully implemented, and while it is far from perfect I strongly believe is opening the door to single payer. I have spent a year of my life having the opportunity to be on the ground, on the front lines of the fight for affordable healthcare, serving with Americorps in a Community Health Center. Helping the uninsured access care, and also helping create the infrastructure that will eventually transform the way the healthcare system in my state works. And yes, because someone who looks like me- namely my daughter, who I happen to be rather fond of- has already greatly benefited. But that doesn't mean I don't feel for those that are barely hanging on, who can't wait until 2014 to get care. They are the very reason I went into nursing, the very reason I served with Americorps, the very reason I am dedicating my career to helping the medically underserved, and yes, the main reason I am supporting the election of Barack Obama in 2012. Do YOU care that I am voting for Barack Obama? Does that make you think less of me as a human being?
Whether it does or not, I WILL be spending the next 308 days of my life working to get Barack Obama and progressive majorities elected in 2012. I will be making phone calls, I will be knocking on doors, I will probably end up going to a swing state again. I will also write diaries here highlighting his accomplishments. Some of them may even include pictures. I will not spend too much of my time rehashing his failures. Not because I deny they exist, or I don't think it matters, but because I find it to be a waste of energy, and energy isn't something I have in heavy supply lately. And because it is 2012. And I'm not doing this shit anymore.
I make the following pledge, and I invite you to join me:
If you write a diary or a comment that is critical of Obama or announce that you are not voting for him for xyz reason, I will not come in to that diary or discussion to tell you that you are an asshole, or a purist, or an emoprog, or make fun of you because you didn't get a pony and diminish your concerns. I do reserve the right to correct any innacuracies contained in your argument, but I will do so in a respectful manner.
In return I humbly request that:
If I write a diary or comment that is in support of President Obama, you will not come in to that diary or discussion to tell me I am an Obamabot or a goose stepping boot licking sycophant, or make fun of me because I still believe in the Democratic party. You may reserve the right to correct any innacuracies contained in my argument, but will do so in a respectful manner.
Or, the shorter version- Don't pee in my pool, and I won't pee in yours.
I am proposing this for 2 reasons:
1.) If it doesn't go like this, if we continue to see the Obamawars rage on into 2012, I will not be able to participate here anymore. Not until the election is over, at least. And I would really, really hate for that to happen. I love this site, and more importantly this community. Even though I have only been here 6 months, I feel like I am part of a family. A family that is dysfunctional at times, but a family nonetheless.
2.) I know for a fact I am not the only person who feels that way, and I'm afraid that if we don't come to some kind of stalemate, the next 10 months are going to break this community apart in a way that might not be repairable.
So, there it is. My plea for sanity and community within the Great Orange Satan for this New Year. Because is 2012, and the stakes are too high for any of this nonsense. I feel like the Supreme Court alone is enough to support and vote for Obama, and that there are many more reasons although I will spare you the dreaded Lily Ledbetter list of accomplishments. Because you are all grownups, and capable of making your own decisions, and I know nothing I say will change your mind. But as long as you don't get in my way and I don't get in yours, there is no reason why we can't get along over the next 10 months. Is there?
And I'll say this too- as long as you are out there fighting- for the environment, for the social safety net, for good jobs, for peace, for all of the things that we want to preserve and attain for this country of ours- whether you are out there in the streets protesting, or out there with me pounding that pavement and getting out the vote, I consider you my ally. I give you my respect and thanks for caring about this country of ours, and the people in it, and the very world my daughter is inheriting. That's more than most people are doing. Whether or not you will be voting for Obama is probably the last thing in the world I would judge you on. I hope that you can say the same for me.
But at the very least, if you get a call from someone at OFA headquarters, please think twice before taking out your frustrations with this administration on them. Sure, they might be a well paid Democratic apparatchik. But chances are, they are just a volunteer. Maybe a single mom, exhausted from working a hard day who would like to be doing something-anything-other than cold-calling people and interrupting their dinner or their TV time to ask them for money that they probably don't have. And while telling her off might make you feel good inside, it has a decidedly different effect on the human being on the other end of the line, who will probably be left in stunned silence, feeling even more demoralized than ever, and wondering when and how it was that she came to be seen as your enemy.