The writers of ConCLAYve blog will be temporarily changing the focus of our topic for the next five days as we approach the homestretch to the Presidential election on Tuesday. The blog topic is not necessarily the opinion of all of our blogging team and in no way is meant to imply any endorsement by Clay Aiken to any particular view. Contributors during this timeperiod will be ConClayve-Nan, Corabeth, berkeley and our newest member, OldMovieGal. We made this decision because of the importance of this election and how committed we are to the outcome. So please indulge us while we say what is in our heads and more importantly, in our hearts.
There is not enough liquor in the world to get me through the next five days. I'm almost afraid to believe what I have seen with my own eyes. This, I think, is what living in America for the past eight years has done to me: I can see an intelligent and informed and articulate candidate who offers hope and decency, I can see poll numbers and anecdotal evidence that point quite clearly to a commanding lead, I can see cheering crowds of people who have placed their dreams in the hands of this man. . .and I still can barely bring myself to imagine that he will win the election five days from now. Because I have felt like I'm living in Bizarro America since the 2000 presidential (s)election, I can look at all of these things – things that any rational and intelligent person would interpret in one way only – and I can still think of all of the almost unthinkable possibilities. Add this to the things that I hope will change with this election: the cynical mistrust of a system that will tell you that down is up and the sky is green, and eventually 50.1% of the population will somehow come to believe it's true.
I just don't know how anyone could look at the Republican ticket (as Alec Baldwin called them on Letterman last night, McBush and Bible Spice) and see a team that is equipped to lead this country in a time of crisis, or even all that interested in that role. McCain is increasingly grasping and confused, pulling random accusations and non sequitur catchphrases out of a hat, but never really seeming to understand or even care that this is a real country with real problems. He seems to want to win just for the sake of winning, but doesn’t seem to realize that winning means having to fix those problems. And Palin -- I used to think that she was just stupid and superficial, with her coy little winks and her cornpone turns of phrase, but now I see her as the most opportunistic, mean, sarcastic, power-hungry psycho I've seen in American politics in my lifetime. And that's saying something, considering that I have roamed the earth in the time of Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and the rest from their particularly rancid breed of politicians.
I have always known that I am fairly insulated from all of the conflicts of this election by virtue of being in the most liberal corner of a liberal university -- and further by living in the very blue state of Illinois, so I don't see many television ads or get robocalls or have neighbors stealing the signs out of my front yard. But I didn't realize how insulated I was until, a few weeks ago, I went to Indiana to talk to undecided voters. And what I saw while I was there scared the hell out of me. There I was, with my Obama pin and a stack of brochures and my carefully researched talking points, ready to debate policy issues with the people I met. In retrospect, I was such a giant nerd about it all, clutching my brochures and believing that it was really all about ideology, that I would just reason with people and they would come to see that Obama was the best pick, and that even if they disagreed with me, they would do so on grounds that they reached through rational thought. And what did I get? One really scary guy who kept ranting about some bizarre "plan" of Obama's to set up "neighborhood tribunals" and turn people in to the police for being terrorists. (WTF??? My guess was that the idiot had a meth lab in his basement, and that's what all of his crazy-eyed fear was really about. One can only hope, I suppose.) Another man, a middle-aged African-American man living in a ramshackle house in a neighborhood that could most charitably be described as “blighted,” opened his door a crack, yelled that he was voting for McCain, and told me to get the hell off of his porch. And (my personal favorite) one 30-ish guy in frayed jeans but no shirt or shoes ambled out onto his porch, explained that he had just moved and was busy unpacking right now, and said, "I figure I'll take this fall to settle in, and I'll vote in next year's presidential election."
And that's when it hit me. None of this was about conflicting ideologies, or the inability to decide whose tax plan made more sense or who would do better things with the health care system. Yes, I believe there are undecided voters who are truly weighing the issues, who are wrestling with their positions, and I respect their processes in reaching the decision that is right for them. But I didn't encounter any of that on my day in Indiana. These people -- these people whose votes very well might determine the outcome of the election -- were complete morons. How could they be trusted to cast a responsible vote for president, based on what we might assume are carefully considered beliefs, when in actuality they didn't put any thought process into it at all – would uncritically believe the most patently bizarre fabrications and, frankly, didn't even know that we don't hold presidential elections every year?
So, yeah, it's going to be a long five days. I know what I see with my own eyes, but I won't believe it – will barely even allow myself to imagine it – until Tuesday night when I lay my head down on my pillow for what I hope will be my first night of peaceful slumber in President Obama's America.