Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Almost time to clean the "Progressive/Liberal" house

I can't wait for the election to be over, I really can't. Come November 7th, which just happens to be my birthday, I am going to have one hell of a hangover. Hopefully it will be from celebrating. Then, once I recover, I am going to start cleaning house. It won't be just cleaning up the empty beer bottles, it will also be rethinking a lot of the groups and individuals I have found myself inadvertently aligned with in the coalition of people who are trying to make sure Mitt Romney never sets foot inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In order to accomplish things politically, you have to sometimes get in bed with people you normally would rather never have to even be in the same room with. Every election, it is that way. You find yourself having to hold your nose, and biting your tongue every time you see the same old tired cliche political memes with a slightly different twist and page's name on it. It gets even more annoying seeing the same controversially titled, tabloid-esque link to a rewritten version of a story that you've already known about for a week 10 times in one morning on 10 different Facebook pages, all owned or controlled by the same person(s). It is really hard to keep your mouth shut when you see "writers" take an old news story and blow it out of proportion in order to drive traffic to their website where they're more interested in making money than changing minds or creating original content when it comes to politics. My belief that selfishness, greed, pettiness, narcissism and general douchebaggery (yes, that's not a real word) aren't inherent to just one political world view hase been reaffirmed on almost a daily basis.

I've also watched people with many of the same views as I share stoop to the same levels that the worst of the opposition groups are notorious for. I understand that politics is very similar to war and the side that uses the worst and inhuman tactics often wins. It still doesn't make it right. It explains some of the actions but it doesn't make me any less queasy when seeing it. This is especially true when I see some of the stuff that is supposed to pass as political humor which is rude and crude for no other reason than to be rude and crude or articles that rely on untruths and statements taken out of context. It directly contradicts the notion that "we can win with facts and intellect" and instead panders to intellectual laziness, group think and everything else that we should be fighting against. I want to say "we're better than that" and crucify them in front of the digital world but like the opposition, I have to bite my tongue in the name of the greater good, the overall goal.

As the owner of a moderately successful Facebook page, it is even harder to walk the tightrope of dealing with competing egos and demands while trying not to get sucked into the orbit of the personal agendas of others. I have no problem with going lowbrow or outright crass when, like art, it serves to illustrate a greater point but not when it is for no other reason than to drive page traffic and sell articles. I don't mind fighting fire with fire but some people think it is perfectly OK to make fun of a politician's family, whose only fault is sharing the same last name or DNA. Others think it is fine to engage in the same tactics of repeating the same lie or half truth over and over again until people accept it as the truth. As much as possible, my page admins and I avoid that. Other pages may engage in that, but we won't.

Unlike previous election cycles, the liberal/progressive/moderate/independent coalition that has assembled behind the mission to reelect the President has managed not to engage in the traditional "circular firing squad", at least not yet. Just a few more weeks...let's hold it together.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why this Independent is voting for Obama

To start off, before I get the "Obamabot" label thrown at me, I hate the idea of a two party system. For a couple elections when I first became old enough to vote, I used to vote Republican without thinking. That's the way we were raised. We were taught that Democrats used to be OK back when they supported segregation and a "white, Christian nation" but they had been taken over by people who wanted to force sodomy, abortions and higher education on everyone. Once I managed to break out of that brainwashing, I started voting third party or Democrat most of the time. In fact, I think in almost every election since 2000, I have voted for at least one candidate that didn't have a "D" or "R" by their name. One year, I even convinced a number of people to write me in for Congress against a Republican who was running unopposed.

This year, I will continue that tradition of voting 3rd party but I am not going to do that when it comes to the presidential selection. I know that in the state of Louisiana, a vote for Obama is pretty much wasted because of all of the people who despite having their jobs destroyed by venture capitalists like Romney, will still vote for that slick-haired vulture. Venture capitalists destroyed the Fruit of the Loom factories here that used to employ thousands, but now sit abandoned with weeds growing up through the cracks in the crumbling asphalt where hundreds of employee vehicles once sat.

I'm not going to tell anyone that they should give up their plans to vote for Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and vote for Obama instead. However, hear me out on this little rant...

Ideally, there would be 3, 4 or 5 parties out there and government business would be conducted through a series of compromises that would allow individuals to conduct their daily lives with government there as a backup, not a lifeline. Companies would have little to no influence on government and politicians would do what is in the best interests of their constituents, not their billionaire sugar daddies.

The thing is, that isn't going to miraculously happen between now and November. Writing in Ron Paul or voting third party this time around is like going to the highest stake poker table in Vegas with your future on the line and pushing all in with the first hand which just happens to be 2-7 offsuit. That analogy doesn't really work though because you statistically have a better chance of winning doing that than the "no chance in hell" possibility that someone besides Romney or Obama would somehow gain enough support between now and November to pull out a shocker.

In addition to that, what good does a person like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein do us in the White House if they don't have a single independent supporter in the House or Senate other than Bernie Sanders? If you thought the GOP hated Obama, imagine how hard they would try to destroy someone who stood alone with little to no support from either side of the aisle.

The reason I am voting for Obama this year instead of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is that while a vote for them fits the idealism I once had when I stood outside the polls on my 20th birthday with a Ralph Nader sign, I am pragmatic enough now to know it won't change much. Even then, I knew my one vote for Nader wasn't going to magically sweep him into the White House and overthrow the 2 party system once and for all.

I have never been delusional enough to say "both parties are the same" and refuse to vote based off that idiocy as many people in the Occupy movement (which I support for the most part) have done. I understand that you build a political movement by starting small, winning local elections, building a base, moving to the state level, then national. It doesn't work by starting at the top and working down. No matter how idealistic and unique a politician is, one person alone is no match for the powers that be. If you don't like the choices you have, work to change that but don't choose the pill which means the death of what is left of the middle class over the pill that upsets your stomach.

In the mean time, I am voting for Obama because while he isn't perfect, I recognize that the alternative is far worse. Think of it as choosing between heartburn and terminal cancer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Roux and segregation in Acadiana

Recently, this Yahoo! article surprised a lot of people who ended up missing the greater point. They were outraged that a private party, not funded by the school, was open to white alumni only. While that was wrong, they seemed to miss the opening sentence "Graduates from the St. Martinville, La., Senior High School Class of 1973 decided that after nearly 40 years, they would stop holding segregated class reunions..."

Saint Martinville is not far from where I live. Like many of the small towns in the Lafayette, LA area it has seen the ups and downs of the petroleum-based economy as well as the death of the textile industry that began the slow spiral in the 1990's. The abandoned factory sits behind a fence topped with rusty barbed wire along LA 31, near a sugarcane field where the stalks rustle ever so slightly in the humid breeze preceding an afternoon thunderstorm.

Like Breaux Bridge, Cecilia, and other towns along or near the often pot hole riddled path of LA 31, Saint Martinville has one church considered to be the "white church" and another which is the "black church". They're often serviced by the same priest who can sometimes literally walk a couple hundred yards from one church to the next. While this seems shocking to outsiders, such as myself, it isn't considered out of the ordinary by a lot of natives. Like the family recipe for gumbo, no matter how burnt and oily the roux, when you point it out, someone will say "well cher (pronounced "sha"), that's the way it has always been".

I worked for awhile when I first moved here in a restaurant that had been built before the end of the Jim Crow era. Often, one of the managers would routinely assign most of the black servers and black customers to the back room. When it was pointed out, it seemed as if he didn't even realize what he had done. There were also many times that black folks, without being directed to do so, would automatically head for the back room. It was as if they were unconsciously carrying on the traditions of the past even as their children and grandchildren continue to integrate more and more.

Like the outlay of the roads which seem to have been designed by a Boudreaux and constructed by a Thibodeaux (You can familiarize yourself with the Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes here) during a night of drinking many years ago, there's a lot of things here that don't make sense. Yet, if you mention it, someone will say "well cher, that's the way it has always been".