November 2008

He Says, She Says: Politics

Author: Keith Kelson

He Says:
In a few days, we’ll go to the polls to elect the next leader of the free world. John McCain, the republican candidate from Arizona is running against Barack Obama, the democratic nominee from Illinois. I look around and see that both sides of the aisle are talking about the historical ramifications of this election.

Barack Obama could make history as the first African-American to be elected to the highest office in the land. Likewise, Sarah Palin could make history if John McCain gets elected as she’ll be the first woman to be vice president. For a political junkie like me, it doesn’t get any better than this. As an independent voter, I choose a candidate based on his stance on the important issues. I was leaning towards voting for Barack Obama after John Edwards bowed out of the race. Especially once I heard him say that he loved baseball.

I was, that is, until I heard Barack announce to the world on ESPN radio who he would root for if the two teams from Chicago met in the World Series. “Oh, that’s easy. White Sox. I’m not one of these fair weather fans. You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious. White Sox, that’s baseball. Southside.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Barack is a smart politically savvy guy, but he’s either incredibly naive or one of his aides handed him the wrong 3×5 card during that interview. The Chicago White Sox? A team in the American League? The team that had “Disco Demolition Night”? Ewww. I thought this guy wanted to be president?

I had to shake my head, because clearly Barack’s advisers don’t know what they’re doing. Two teams to choose from in your home state and you’re on record as being a fan of the one using the designated hitter. You have got to be kidding me. Hey, I’m not a baseball purist, or maybe I am, but you can’t go around talking about how a team that uses the DH plays “real” baseball and expect to get my vote.

Yes, I’m aware that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over a hundred years. I’m also aware that people think that the franchise’s long championship drought is a result of the “Billy Goat Curse,” so named after some disgruntled Cubs fan supposedly placed a curse on the team after he and his pet goat got tossed out of the stadium by Cubs management because the goat smelled. Even die-hard Cubs fans refer to the team as loveable losers, so I can kind of understand Barack wanting to actually see his team win a World Series in his lifetime. But if you’re not a fan of the National League team, can’t you just be neutral like Switzerland?

I’m sure the McCain backers are licking their chops. He’s got it made. This once hotly contested election could now turn into a cakewalk. Arizona has only one major league team, The Diamondbacks, and the ownership was wise enough to insist on the team being placed in the National League where the designated hitter is not allowed. That’s right, you American League fans—the pitcher should have to take his turn at bat just like everybody else. The designated hitter takes the strategy out of the game. It also turns pitchers into prima ballerinas. Pitchers used to be men. Now they’re the equivalent of a place kicker in football and about as tough.

Babe Ruth’s accomplishments as a homerun hitter are the stuff of legend, but most people forget that he was a dominant pitcher and hitter when he was with the Boston Red Sox. Instead of just throwing up their hands and saying pitchers can’t hit, folks in the American League should tell pitchers to emulate Babe Ruth.

But I digress.

Cubs fans are some of the most loyal, knowledgeable fans in all of baseball, and they sell out their home games regardless of where the Cubs are ranked in the standings. See if the jaded fans in Atlanta are willing to do the same for the Braves. By the way, someone call Ted Turner and tell him to buy back the Braves. Pronto.

This year, the Cubs had one of the best records in baseball, however, judging from the 10-3 beating they took Thursday night at the hands of the Dodgers, it appears that fans might have to wait until next year. Again. The Dodgers led the five game series two games to none, with the next two games taking place in Los Angeles. The last team to rally from a two games to none deficit in the Divisional playoffs was the Yankees, so it can be done and here’s hoping the Cubs do right their ship.

Here’s hoping that Barack Obama also comes to his senses. He’s got to realize that if he wants to win November, he should be rooting for the Cubs in October.

Personally, I’m still leaning towards voting for him. His speech on the importance of fathers to the well being of a family echoes my own feelings on the subject.

I just won’t watch a baseball game with the guy.

She Says

The election is upon us at long last. Has it been historic? Certainly; groundbreaking? Undoubtedly; unprecedented? Clearly, but do you feel as if you’ve been on the campaign trail for the last year? I sure do; at least that’s what my e-mail inbox reflects: constant reminders to vote in November, pick my candidate, switch my candidate, read a satirical cartoon or uncover the latest conspiracy theory.

Although my family hasn’t written any history books, lectured in the political science department of Harvard or appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” there has never been a shortage of verbal battles around the dinner table. All manner of topics are discussed, from sports trivia to geography, movie quotes to our memories of family vacation itineraries. Things are rarely left unsaid at our house. However, few topics get my father as fired up as American politics. For anyone who follows politics, this has been a banner year. All- star line up of political names: Clinton, McCain, Biden, Giuliani, Obama…wait a second, “OBAMA?” Is this the historic, groundbreaking, unprecedented year in presidential politics that we have all been waiting for?

It cannot be denied that having two women in play for the highest seats of governing authority in our great nation is remarkable as well as having people of color making legitimate and serious runs for the White House, one who could be the first person of color to reside in that same house on Pennsylvania Avenue. As a woman, I am no more likely to vote for McCain/Palin on the basis of a female VP than an African-American voter should back Senator Obama simply because of his race. The part that makes me fearful for our country is that many voters may and will take that very position.

This election has taught me one true thing about myself: I am in fact getting older (not old, just older). It seems that a presidential election brings a certain amount of adulthood to a girl who still beams a proud smile when she’s carded at a bar, as if being 11 years over the bench mark isn’t enough. Following political campaign, while balancing a full-time teaching career, coaching soccer, keeping in touch with loved ones, staying physically fit, not to mention eating and sleeping, is overwhelming and frankly unrealistic. You could never keep up with all the ins and outs of each campaign; even the people working on the campaign can’t possibly know everything there is to know about their candidate.

A great example of my inability to follow the process fully was when I was watching the news with my father. I commented on how some of the things that a certain candidate said during a debate made sense to me. My father, beet red, told me simply that I should take that back or I would not be allowed at the dinner table. And this wasn’t when I was an unruly teenager full of big ideas and no experience; it was during the primaries last winter. Truth be told, after some research, I altered my perspective on that particular candidate and so did a lot of people, because he is not on either the Republican or Democratic ticket.

That being said, I think that I have a fairly decent grasp of the issues that McCain and Obama have been campaigning. I’m able to carry on an intelligent conversation with someone of a different political point of view while allowing myself to continue to gain knowledge about the other side. I’ve changed my mind several times. I’m not registered with a particular party. I’ve taken lots of online quizzes to determine what issues are most important to me and which candidate aligns most closely with my views.

However, the list of things I understand pales in comparison to those things I don’t understand. Taxes, social security, campaign finance reform… sometimes in my head, I just hear the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons, “wha, wha, wha, wha, wa, wa, wa, wa.” How does an economic bailout with numbers into the trillions make any sense when the two people running for the job of president can spend billions for one month of advertising? I remember learning about the Electoral College when I was in middle school and started to feel lied to and very cheated. Every vote counts, well sort of?

But again, I show my naivety. I yield to my father, retired who has the time and the PASSION for watching the news, researching the candidate and e-mailing me his opinion (albeit often in political cartoons). Yes, vote. By all means, vote. Democracy works when the people contribute. Knowledge is power. Don’t be passive in your decision making

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