Monday, February 4, 2008
"Omigosh! I Forgot the Primaries!"
My first election was in the fall of 1992.
Up until that point, my memories of past presidential campaigns were fractured and fleeting.
I remember Walter Mondale getting annihilated in 1984 and USA Today showing (in color! in color!) a map of the United States, highlighting the lone state Mondale won drowning in a monochromatic sea signifying the rest of the country.
I remember a little more about 1988. Gary Hart's image was splashed across the tabloids, saving us all from six more weeks of Jessica Hahn's elongated elephantine face. There was the "you're no Jack Kennedy" line that came this close to making the man who would become the second most powerful force in the universe cry. Aaaaand, there was the Republican Party's blatant race-baiting scare tactics. You stay classy, assholes.
In 1992 – and stop me if you've heard this one before – the world was a different place.
Voting was cool and all the kids were doing it.
I remember that election vividly.
There was Pat Buchanan's bat-sh*t insane orthodox ravings as the centerpiece of Republican ideology during their National Convention. There were Bill and Hillary Clinton unconvincingly reassuring America that their marriage was strong on the post-Super Bowl (Redskins 37, Bills 24) edition of 60 Minutes. And, who can forget the diminutive, home-spun wisdom of former Mexican midget wrester, Ross Perot?
Like I said…the world was a different place.
And, in no place was that difference more overt than in the Black community.
In the late 1980s, a renaissance of sorts had occurred and African-American culture was influencing all walks of life. Remember when Spike Lee could still get major studio financing for his movies? Remember when mainstream Black music was still optimistic, instead of opportunistic? Remember when this new Black Pride was expressed through bright men and women – oftentimes, wearing even brighter colors – as our differences from the rest of society were celebrated?
Not in a "militant" way…just a "different" way.
In 1992, there was a palpable hope that change was on the way in the political landscape. And, at the time, if you'd told this to anyone just coming of voting age, you would've had them at "hope".
"Change" would've been great, but we were content to hang our hats on "hope".
More than 15 years later, I feel exactly the opposite and that's pretty damn sad.
Y'see, I've got a mortgage, a car note and a kid in a private preschool. Hope don't pay the bills.
So, as I approach the 2008 California presidential primary, I'm looking at it through the jaded eyes of someone who's firmly entrenched within the establishment. While, I think it's incredible that either a woman or an African-American is going to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency, I just can't get all caught up in the "hope" angle that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made the centerpiece of their campaigns.
But, I'm OK with "change".
I've spent time recently researching both Obama and Clinton's views, voting records and post-election plans. All I gleaned from that is even the "hope" and "change" candidates are capable of saying nothing with 100,000 words. Still, I found myself leaning one way, but wasn't quite committed until I saw the most recent Democratic debate on CNN last week.
Truth be told, I actually missed the debate, but caught the "wrap-up show", as it were. Soundbites rolled, the audience seemingly applauded everything and even the "experts" couldn't agree on who "won". That's when one of the talking heads reminded me that for the last 28 years there's been a Bush or a Clinton in the White House.
I'm OK with change.
I'm voting for Obama.