Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Booking a Guilt Trip

Maureen Dowd goes deep.

With Obama saying the hour is upon us to elect a black man and Hillary saying the hour is upon us to elect a woman, the Democratic primary has become the ultimate nightmare of liberal identity politics. All the victimizations go tripping over each other and colliding, a competition of historical guilts.

People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?

Maybe I missed something, or perhaps I’m not as intellectually involved as some people like Ms. Dowd in “liberal identity politics,” but I don’t think in those terms when I’m choosing a candidate to vote for in the election.

I vote for the candidate who I think represents my values and who I think will do the best job doing what needs to be done, be it president or county coroner. My criteria are simple: I want a better country, I want an end to the war, I want equal rights for all citizens, I want education to be the silver bullet, I want my taxes to be spent in a way that gives me value for the money such as maintaining and improving the infrastructure, not as a bribe to a corporation, and I want our allies to not flinch whenever we look in their direction. I want the rest of the world to respect us for our ideals, not be afraid of us, and I want our children to grow up healthy and willing to make the world even better. That requires leadership, and in all my examinations of the various candidates that I’ve voted for in the thirty-plus years that I’ve been eligible to step into the voting booth, not once did the color of their skin or the presence or lack of a vagina play any role in the consideration of their qualifications. I refuse to allow such irrelevancies to play a part in my vote, and I also refuse to be guilted into making a selection based on it.

I also think that anyone who decides to vote for — or against — a particular candidate based strictly on race or gender should step back and seriously consider whether or not they should vote at all. If such things play a decisive role in making the decision, it calls into question their intellectual capability to participate in the electoral process. In other words, if you’re too shallow to select a candidate based on anything other than race or gender, you’re probably more a danger to this country than the terrorists sitting around in caves in Afghanistan smoking hash and plotting their next attack against the Great Satan.

That, however, is the risk we take in having a democratic republic; we run the risk that the electorate will choose someone who looks good on TV and who they’d like to have a beer with. It trivializes the process, and it reinforces the impression on a lot of voters that their vote doesn’t matter because no matter who they vote for, they don’t see that it makes any difference. (Of course, they all wake up seven years into a disastrous administration and wonder what the hell happened.) And it doesn’t help matters when people like Ms. Dowd turn it into an exercise in Freudian guilt-tripping, using the voting booth for a psychiatrist’s couch.