You are reading the Friday edition of The Telluride Watch. Last night Joe Biden debated Sarah Palin. As I write this, on Wednesday, I’m not sure I will be able to stand to watch. Enough, already! Surely there can no longer be any doubt that the McPain ticket is an utterly unacceptable option, no matter how many barbed quips Palin might have pulled off or any gaffe that Biden may have made.
I have become fully polarized and make no apology for it. I can’t understand how my Republican friends rationalize remaining Republican given the tidal wave of hideous reality that is smacking us all in the face. The multiple disasters we now confront are, as Barack Obama often points out, no accident of history. They represent the entirely predictable consequences of Republicanism run amuck – Republicanism fueled by fetishes for a belligerent foreign policy and for deregulation and in favor of “free markets” at all times and in all circumstances; for a “strong” executive, meaning a neutering of Congress and the courts – and for eagerly blurring the boundaries between church and state in order to win Evangelical votes. We live in an era – are hopefully at the end of an era – where right-wing ideology trumps reality every time.
If I were the moderator of a debate, the question I would like to ask John McCain, who has stated that he and George W. Bush are of like mind on the “transcendent issues,” what exactly has gone right in the last eight years. What progress can he point to under this regime of unfettered Republicanism? Our pressing issues have been utterly unaddressed: no progress on health care, no progress on alternative energy or global warming, no progress on a more just society, a growing chasm between rich and poor, ballooning deficits, a weak dollar, a devastated economy, a deserved disrepute and loss of influence internationally, a weakened military, and a war that has achieved nothing, but which McCain would surely cite as the Bush Administration’s biggest success, the damned Surge, never mind that it was a strategic disaster to go into Iraq in the first place.
Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
And how about the sheer, unvarnished cynicism of selecting Sarah Palin for VP? This is “putting America first?” Sarah Palin is the most qualified Republican woman in the land to stand a heartbeat away from a 72-year-old president with a history of health problems? How stupid does McCain think we are?
Enough! Enough! Enough! We really, truly can’t take any more of this combustible brand of politics that mixes ideological and theological zeal with utterly cynical electoral tactics. It has brought us to the brink of ruin. This is what Barack Obama means when he says we need new politics in this country.
Sometimes, when the times are darkest, the pendulum swings and history miraculously produces the right person at the right time, and Obama seems to be that person. I was dismayed that in the name of new politics he has been so retrained in punching back and has remained so resolutely cool when some heat seemed in order, until the economic meltdown, when suddenly it all made perfect sense. Here was McCain blaming the initial failure of the bailout on Obama and Democrats when it was manifestly his own failure, at the very same time he called for bipartisanship and said this was no time to be casting blame, while Obama remained the very embodiment of a statesman, refusing the bait. Obama’s rare quality of grace under pressure is clearly infuriating to the Republicans, who sneered at Obama’s celebrity until they manufactured a celebrity of their own in Palin, but it is also very possibly the only quality that can move us all beyond the horrors of the moment. We will all need to practice grace under pressure in the coming months and years, and we will be fortunate to have a leader who embodies it.
To my Republican friends, I’m sorry if I offend you, but this is a time for honest talk about the abyss (if only it were a mere ditch!) that George W. Bush and his Republican Party have driven us into. At this time of undeniable crisis, rationalizations – that Bush was not the right Republican, or that he is not to blame for one reason or another, or that McCain will somehow be an improvement – are simply no longer tolerable, at least not in rational company. We must speak this clear and simple truth without hedging it. It is long past time for a change.
For the most part, here in San Miguel County, I’m preaching to a choir of liberals. But that does not mean we don’t count. We must vote in the greatest possible numbers for Obama to help swing Colorado into the Obama column. We must encourage anyone who somehow still doubts the fierce urgency of now to vote, too, and we must try, try to convince our Republican friends to give it up for Obama, to give it up for our future, which has never been so tenuous as it is now, at least not in the lifetime of any of us born after the late 1940s.
It was heartbreaking when Bush beat Gore, and sickening when Bush beat Kerry. And now, here we are as a result. If McCain beats Obama, words will not be able to convey the dreadfulness if it.