Leaving the political mess behind?

Since I am leaving the US and heading back to my own home and job in England tomorrow, I would hope that I would be leaving behind the constant chatter over politics. Alas, I won’t. It’s all over the BBC, the Economist, and enough other sources that I encounter in the UK every day, including my colleagues who feel the need to ask me what I think about it. Now, full disclosure, I have more often than not voted for independent candidates (no, I did not vote for Jesse Ventura for Minnesota governor, although I probably would have if I had made it out to vote in that election at all, and yes, {ducking} I was one of those evil people who voted third party in Bush vs Gore). This one has me totally stumped. I am one of the disillusioned Hillary supporters who simply cannot get behind the inexperienced, made-for-television candidacy of Obama, unlike this recent turncoat. I laughed out loud yesterday when I read this rant about Sarah Palin, which echoed how I felt quite a lot. And actually, I have found the last few emails I got from MoveOn.org downright offensive in their vitriol against the Republican veep candidate. I think she is really interesting and if it wasn’t for the usual problems I might even be tempted to vote for McCain. But don’t get too excited, Dad, it’s not likely. (pro-life + supports abstinence only education = increase in teen pregnancy, see direct example of candidate’s daughter. Teen pregnancy is bad, being engaged at 17 even worse–from the divorced girl who got engaged at 18, married at 19, and is still recovering from the experience more than a decade later)

I have the frustration, yet again, of really not liking either major-party candidate or ticket. I worry about the economy more than America’s ridiculous obsession with abortion rights (anyone who votes on this as a single issue should lose their right to vote!) and I fall in the fiscally-conservative-socially-liberal group that never has a viable candidate at all. So my feeling on the election overall is, can we just get this over with? And do I have to participate? I keep getting the reminders from votefromabroad.org and I’m left uninspired, as usual–there is no feeling of urgency for me right now to get registered. Voting for either major candidate would be like picking a consolation prize with my heart not in it. It would be the sort of “lesser of the evils” vote combined with a hope that the winner won’t do too much damage to the country. Really, my view on American politics is “I thought I would be more shielded from this nonsense living in another country, this sucks!” So ends my rant.

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14 responses to “Leaving the political mess behind?

  1. Yeah, the usual gang is out there pushing their vitriol. For the best antidote on reality, go here to see the official “Palin rumors debunked” list, the one about “abstinence only” education is #50:
    http://explorations.chasrmartin.com/2008/09/06/palin-rumors/

    The fact is, those in the US who claim to be feminists usually are not. They approve only of liberal feminists, as evidenced by the way they reacted to Dr. Sommers’ book on feminism (http://books.google.com/books?id=IUWNJwAACAAJ&dq=MS+Christina+Hoff+Sommers&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result).

    Maggie Thatcher was middle class and Tory, hence unworthy of respect. Palin carries on that tradition, I guess.

    Hard to avoid politics when the internet slides so easily across oceans!

  2. I made a conscious decision not to add another post about politics but I did find a few things when surfing the web mindlessly that were interesting in this context. The best is an opinion piece on the great divide between red and blue in America:
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/the-great-divide-of-us-politics-20080907-4bgn.html
    There was a line in there that struck me really hard about why I get so angry at the hard pro-life line that the Republican party has sunken into (for more on this see http://www.slate.com/id/2199495/ and http://www.slate.com/id/2199469/)… it’s the “making decisions for other people based on my values” part that irritates the bejeebus out of me. I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion but I do respect that there are cases where someone might get put into a difficult situation and feel that this is their only choice. I respect that person’s right to make their own decision. Thus the whole “pro-fchoice” thing. Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. That is best achieved by not trying to pass laws telling other people what to do based on your own philosophy of when life begins, something that is fiercely debated and probably a question that is not answerable. Same with abstinence-only education. Stop trying to inflict your ideas about what teenagers should do with their spare sexual energy onto other people. Okay I’ll stop now. I’m just so very irritated that this issue dominates politics in a time of massive federal deficit.

  3. Well, at least you know that Palin is 1) behaving consistent with her views, and 2) is not a proponent of abstinence-only education, since that canard has now been debunked by the gubernatorial debate 2 years ago where that was a specific question.

    I like this line, though, reminds me of the Maria Muldaur “I’m a Woman” classic from the ’70’s (from the NYT story): “She assured them she would not take much time off (due to her pregnancy): she had returned to work the day after giving birth to Piper. “’To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time,” she said, “I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.’”

  4. Actually I’m really not in favor of this “back at work the day after giving birth” mentality–I think that falls into the sort of “false feminism” where we’re supposed to be men with ovaries. Giving birth should be meaningful, staying home with your tiny baby should be valued. I’m getting crotchety in my old age, but I increasingly think that trying to juggle careers and kids is going to leave something important undone. I oddly agree with my 91 year old grandmother that “if you’re going to have a baby, why don’t you stay home with it when it’s young?” I know, harsh, but you only get once chance at the kid’s formative years.

  5. My own views is that it depends on the type of work you do and the family relationship you have. If your spouse is there and supportive (many men are not, but check out Lileks for the other view), and you have flexibility on the job to, say, work 10 hours bringing the baby along and pause to do necessary things, I don’t see an issue. My wife was home when the kids were little (the oldest was about 8 when she started to work), but she always had some kind of work, and I didn’t have a lot of flexibility with my own hours. I had to travel a lot as well. But that is not the case for everyone.

  6. I think that there is always going to be a cost-benefit argument for working mothers, but that there is a clear cost to the children at home when they do not have the time and attention of a full-time parent in their formative years. Yes I agree the Lileks model is a rare case that works in reverse, but his attentions are clearly focused on the kid first and foremost. He gets his jollies from writing and video blogs, etc. but it is all scheduled around his kid duties. I think therefore that his devotion is far above the level of most even non- or lightly-working mothers!

    I used to think that it was only important for parents to be home with little kids, but I increasingly wonder if that is a mistake, especially in the US where a parent of a teenager with a full time-job has only two weeks vacation in the summer. I see families here in the UK take off for the south of France for six weeks a summer and hear about their exploits and I suspect the kids are really benefitting from having parents with less harsh schedules even at 16 years old.

  7. Kurmudge wrote:
    > Maggie Thatcher was middle class and Tory, hence unworthy of respect. Palin
    > carries on that tradition, I guess.

    How interesting that the Americans have such a different view of Maggie to the British.

  8. Chris, I’m sure that it depends on your philosophy and party affiliation on both sides of the Atlantic!

  9. Being middle class and Tory is the sort of criticism levelled at Tony Blair. People usually either love or hate Maggie.

  10. Yeah, and say what you will, a number of the people that hated her would not have hated a man saying or doing the same things!

  11. I’m late to this, but I have to say that I do feel that returning to work seconds after delivering a baby is your own business. However, a politician bragging about it is doing a disservice to those of us working parents who are fighting for fair working conditions for families. I worry that she will miss my plea for paid baby leave, reasonable vacation and work hours if she thinks her experience is the feminist way.

  12. Malia,

    I mostly agree with you except for one thing, which is that I’d bet medically there are good reasons to take some time off after giving birth to both let your body recover and bond with baby.

  13. Of course! I could barely move for weeks after the C. But, if you feel the need to drag your tired a** into work three days later – who am I to judge (I will however, think you are crazy and tell all of my friends).

  14. Pingback: And not all Americans are the same either! « Not From Around Here

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