If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it. (Mark Twain)
This election year is my first since losing interest in the political charade. It’s not fun, as I’m not one of those people who thrives on being different or separate from everyone else. I’d much rather fit in, feel connected to society, and feel that I have more in common than different with my fellow street walkers. Similarly, it would be much easier and less of a hassle to simply continue enjoying the things you enjoyed in the past – to still get that same sense of excitement going to a bar that you did in college, to keep cheering on your team with the same fervor you did before realizing sports didn’t actually mean anything. But evolution happens, whether you want it to or not. It’s natural to resist at first – to want things to stay the same, to still be able to rely on the same dependable highs of yesterday – but intrinsic to the process of growth is the necessity of leaving the old behind. To keep resisting is to resist your true destiny.
I enjoyed politics in ’08. I really wanted Obama to win. Each night of the Democratic National Convention was like the playoffs, each debate was like its own Super Bowl – even more special because it only happened every 4 years. So I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a slight tinge of nostalgia knowing that this time around, the debates will come and go with my not taking notice, or a touch of sadness while noticing how genuinely hard it is for me to believe there really is a presidential election going on right now.
I know it’s exhilarating to cheer for your team. It’s fun when they win. It sucks when they lose, but even then, at least you’re in the game, and there’s always next time. What’s not as exhilarating is seeing beyond the game – seeing that the game itself is the real problem, and that the game’s very existence is dependent on the continued existence of all the problems the game is purportedly meant to address. When that happens, not only do you not have a team to cheer for anymore, you become isolated. Solace comes soon after, though, when you realize that being isolated isn’t such a bad thing in a world that looks the other way in regards to perpetual war, poverty, starvation and environmental degradation; when you realize that, as Krishnamurti says, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Even more solace comes, when you also realize that you aren’t in fact isolated – that there are actually many who see beyond the game as you do – they just don’t get the airtime on the corporate-owned airwaves because their message runs counter to the interests of said corporations, as well as both corporate-owned political parties.
Ever since I started blogging about a year ago – with Occupy just starting up and campaign season in full swing – I had been meaning to do a post suggesting a hypothetical list of questions to ask Obama for any occupier who felt like attending one of his heavily choreographed “town hall meetings” (assuming, of course, they made it past the screeners). Given my increasing ambivalence toward the electoral process, I had nearly forgotten about this intention, and it was only after reading a blurb about Clinton’s apparently earth-shattering DNC speech that I was reminded of the increasingly small window of time I had to do it. (Speeches are great, aren’t they?)
These questions are deliberately general and direct, meant to spotlight the increasingly self-evident reality that Obama is every bit the Wall Street puppet as his opponent, and though they could just as easily be asked of Romney and should be, nobody on the left has any illusions about where he stands. It’s only when we understand the true nature of our predicament – when we understand that fundamental problems like the true causes of war, the drug war, prison profiteering or an increasingly dehumanizing consumer culture will not be solved and don’t want to be solved by either party – that we can begin to contemplate true solutions. And of course, the questions listed here are just the ones at the top of mind at the moment. For a far more specific and comprehensive indictment of Obama that any peace-loving liberal should be horrified by, this list from an organization called St. Pete for Peace is among the best I’ve found.
- Can you stop taking so much money from Wall Street? Seriously, it makes it seem like they have more of your ear than the rest of us.
- Why are there U.S. military bases in over 150 countries? Do you think it’s appropriate for them to be there?
- Do you think it’s right for private corporations to profit off war? Don’t you think that might provide an incentive to perpetuate war?
- Do you think it’s right for private corporations to build prisons and profit off crime? Don’t you think that might provide an incentive to perpetuate crime?
- Do you agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. that capitalism has outlived its usefulness?
- Do you think it makes sense to have the health of our environment depend on whether it’s economically or politically feasible?
- Do you think it’s right that the majority of our products are made from Chinese slave labor?
- Why is it that only large corporations with millions of dollars are able to broadcast over the national airwaves?
- Can you explain once and for all why you’re against marijuana legalization? You’ve always sidestepped that question when you’ve been asked it in the past.
- What made you change your views on same-sex marriage so late in life? Did it have anything to do with a majority of Americans supporting it now? Would you have changed your stance if only 20% of the country supported it?