I spent an instructive couple of hours this evening making phone calls on behalf of the Obama campaign. Yes, I am one of those annoying people who interrupts your dinner to ask who you’ll be voting for. (I’m in Colorado, one of the few states where the answer actually matters.)
I’ve had a fear of cold-calling ever since a short-lived, traumatic (and rather funny) attempt at phone sales during my college years, but this wasn’t so bad. Somehow I got the nice people list to call: all women over 60 (some well over), all of them polite. Although the two times I got (presumably) their husbands on the line first, they were rather abrupt.
For the few who were willing to say that they are undecided, I offered to try to answer any questions or concerns they might have, but no one took me up on that. The only woman I spoke to at any length said: “I’m just not sure. He seems so young, though that’s not an issue.” She wasn’t really happy with McCain or Obama, and is disgusted with the recent behavior of both: “They’re fighting like a couple of high schoolers.” I could only glumly agree with that.
“We’re in a rut, and I’m not sure there’s anyone in the whole history of the country who can get us out of it,” she continued. And she wasn’t just talking about the economy.
I empathize, truly I do. You haven’t heard much about Obama from me before, because I would have preferred Hillary. I like her experience and I like her balls, and I would love to see the ultimate glass ceilingÂ broken.
But John McCain won no points from me for selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. In fact, that move utterly canceled the respect I used to have for him. He thinks I’d vote for Palin simply because she lacks a penis? The utter cynicism of that shows just how little respect he and the Republican party actually have for women. Palin is the polar opposite of Hillary in everything except her chromosomes, and, most worrisome, lacks almost any useful experience. By reason of her sheer lack of competence, the idea of her being McCain’s faltering heartbeat away from the presidency is frightening.
Her religious and social beliefs scare the proverbial bejesus out of me. Bristol Palin is pregnant at 17 as a direct result of her parents’ conservative ideology. You can’t stop teenagers having sex, but, if you’re a sensible and caring parent, you can at least provide them with the knowledge and birth control to prevent them getting pregnant. The failure of abstinence-only sex “education” is starkly illustrated in Palin’s own family, and I’m disgusted (though not surprised) that no one is even mentioning this as an issue. Family privacy be damned: Palin would try to impose this on every teenager in America. We have every right to discuss this – loudly.
Sarah Palin has propelled me hard into the Obama camp, and is the main reason I expect to spend quite a bit of time campaigning for him. But there are things I definitely like about Obama, too. For one, he’s a third-culture kid. Like me, he has a multicultural family and has experienced other countries and cultures by living in them. McCain’s experience of other countries, at least during his young and impressionable years, was of going to war and then being a prisoner of war in Vietnam. I don’t have a window into either man’s psyche, but human intuition tells me which one is likely to have a broader, more nuanced view of the world outside US borders.
And that’s something we desperately need now. The world is too small and too tightly interwoven nowadays for US exceptionalism to be the answer to every international question. We have to think about our role as world citizens, not just American citizens. And I think Barack Obama is far better equipped to do that than John McCain.