11.10.2006

My own take on the whole "election" thing

Ya know... I just can't get that excited about it.

Oh, I voted. I did vote. I ALWAYS vote. Even though as a liberal in the reddest state in the union* let's just say that voter apathy is pretty damn high. I vote knowing that it doesn't do a damn bit of good. So, I guess, mainly I vote so that I can complain. And so that I can goad people in other states whose votes count into voting.

Ok, I'm partially lying. I did find some things of excitement in this mid-term election. But let's get my bitterness out first.

I'm not all that euphoric that the Democrats are finally in power. Mostly because I refuse to believe that they'll actually do anything substantive with that power. Over the last, how many years? We've watched the Democrats roll over and play dead. We've watched them blindly vote with the majority. Yes, there have been a few clarion voices calling for change and thought and reason and justice and democracy. But for the most part the Democrats have been toothless panderers. There are series of checks and balances even within the legislature, but time and time again the Dems have refused to use what methods they had as a minority to stop the ruthless smashing of our liberties, and our values, as a secular democracy. This is my big problem with the Democrats. The Republicans are not out of the running just because they're no longer the majority. The Republicans have no problem pulling every trick of the minority out of their hats to get what they want. The Democrats just throw up their hands, whine that they're in the minority, talk big about what they'd do if they had power, but actually do nothing. So, yeah, I'll believe in Democra-sponsored change when I see it. And if I do see it, I'll know that it doesn't come from the majority of Democrats up there, but rather from a small, vocal cabal who has been pushing for change all along, and dragging the rest of their spineless party behind them.

Hmmm, I guess I'm a little bitter.

And see, about the whole vote and the shifting demographics of the turn-out? I don't see it as a triumph. I see it as the LEAST that should have occurred. Where were all those people two years ago? or 6 years ago when the presidency was hijacked and countless poor people of color disenfranchised? NOW you're doing the right thing? Well, it's about time. So my big reaction to the new voters (not, of course, the young voters who didn't have a chance in the last elections, but everyone else who either voted for the right-pandering haters, or didn't vote at all) is not a resounding HURRAH! But more of a bitter "feh, 'bout time you did the right thing"

To all those pundits who keep saying that Tuesday was a demonstration that our system works? All I say is that to me, all Tuesday proved is that only when their own bed is finally on fire will the people make a move to disturb their peaceful slumber and beat out the flames -- even though the neighborhood and the house has been burning for YEARS. Again, it doesn't seem much to be proud of. And I am, of course, including myself in that condemnation.

There's a reason I'm not a politician.

But, I said that I saw a bright spot, and I did. And here it is: In the reddest of the red states, in a vilely homophobic and heterocentric community, an openly gay state senator was elected. Now THAT's change for you. And no matter that I don't think much of him personally, and no matter that I have grave misgivings as to his actual effectiveness as a state senator, the fact of the matter is: people here voted for him. True, his constituency is here in the capital city, which is actually a dot of deep blue in a vast sea of blood red (I mean, our beloved Mayor has led protests against the president here, has pushed to give same-sex couples who work for the city domestic partner benefits, used to be an attorney for the ACLU -- can't get much more liberal than that, and the city -- and ONLY the city -- LOVES him). But still. I never thought he'd win election. So there's that.

And here's another thing. While I was looking up the election results for our state legislature for Kristin... I noticed that some of those elections hinged on as few as a hundred votes. In some of the most conservative counties in Utah, Democrats NEARLY won. This is big. HUGE. Because when I think about it, most of the tangible discrimination and misery in our lives comes not from the Federal government, but from our state legistatures. DOMA may be a federal act, but it is our state legislatures that give it teeth. All these anti-gay marriage ballots (or the VAST majority of them) come out of the state legislatures. So the bright point is that I have realized (finally, on a cellular level) that I need to change the focus of my political activism from national issues to local politics. The change needs to happen in our local county races. On the level of everyday people. And looking at the results of this election, that may not be as hard as I used to think. Especially since the more I talk to people (even "conservatives") about the very real emotional, financial, and legal problems my family faces, the more they are appalled that such things are a reality. Message voting aside, most of the people I talk to don't think that I deserve to lose my daughter if something happened to Kristin, they don't think that it's fair that Julia can't get my social security if something happened to me. They don't think that it's right that I can't adopt her. They just don't KNOW that these things are the reality for our family and once they do they are upset and feel lied to by their representatives. Finally, the sleeping giant of our non-politicised general population is beginning to rouse and think about these things (and others). And even if it's slower than I think it should be, it's still happening. The euphoria shouldn't be coming from what happened on Tuesday, but from what is possible now that the people are beginning to wake.

You know, as the next election gets closer, I just might volunteer to help a liberal running for the state legislature in a sparcely-populated, extremely conservative county... I be there are a lot of hidden liberal, reasonable people there who just don't think that they have a voice, maybe I can help them realize that while they DON'T have a voice in the larger, national elections, we can begin making substantive change through our state legislatures, where our voices are heard.

*All you people who don't live in Utah who like to call yourselves residents of the reddest state in the Union? You don't know what red is. Yes. I'm talking to YOU Texas, and Virginia, and Oklahoma, and South Dakota and Florida. Sure, you're red. You're like a bright brick red. We are heart's blood.

Posted by Trista @ 9:24 AM

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"Especially since the more I talk to people (even "conservatives") about the very real emotional, financial, and legal problems my family faces, the more they are appalled that such things are a reality. Message voting aside, most of the people I talk to don't think that I deserve to lose my daughter if something happened to Kristin, they don't think that it's fair that Julia can't get my social security if something happened to me. They don't think that it's right that I can't adopt her. They just don't KNOW that these things are the reality for our family and once they do they are upset and feel lied to by their representatives. Finally, the sleeping giant of our non-politicised general population is beginning to rouse and think about these things (and others)."

YES! I live in Oklahoma and I hope I'm one of those "hidden liberal, reasonable people." Until I befriended a lesbian couple a few years ago, I had NO IDEA the nation was still as backwards as it is. And this state in particular. As a PTA president at a title one school, I've seen some pretty heinous examples of families, and here are these two wonderful women doing their best to raise their daughters and having legal hassles thrown at them from all sides. They even passed a law at one point nullifying the adoptions between the non-bio parent and the child of all same sex couples even if said adoption took place years ago and in another state. My friends and several other couples challenged this, and it was ultimately struck down as unconstitutional (duh!), but what kind of jerk even writes such a law in the first place?! I was shocked, then I was angry and I use my vote to let this state know how I feel about it. (Though that often seems futile-I think me and my sisters were the only straight people in this state who voted against the gay marriage ban.) But my rambling point here is YES-get the word out. In theory, I have never in my life had a problem or disagreement with same sex couples, but it wasn't until I saw the reality of friends and their children being singled out by lawmakers that I actually started actively doing anything about it.

Posted by Blogger Melessa @ 1:54 PM #
 

I agree with just about everything you say. I can't/don't/won't complain about my own community, since I'm in about as indigo-blue a spot as you could find in the U.S. of A. (Berkeley, CA). Even so, there's much to still lament (folks outside the Bay Area voted in Arnold again, for starters, and big oil shot down the proposition that was going to tax corporate oil to fund clean energy research & development).

Ah, it's a long battle, is the thing. Let's hope, as you say, that a feisty, principled minority from within the current House & Senate majority can actually effect some heartening change. For the sake of our kids' if not our own well being.

Posted by Anonymous Polly P @ 9:47 PM #
 

I love the idea of you working behind the scenes in politics. there will be MANY opportunities in 2008...

Posted by Blogger Calliope @ 6:39 AM #
 
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