There's been a lot of reasons for my lack of blogging lately. Work, personal projects, chores, outside activities and, in the words of a co-worker, "Your Saints are doing so well that I had to check to see if your feet were even on the ground." Knock on wood.
But another reason is that I'm just burned the fuck out on politics. There are two main reasons for this:
1) I'm disappointed in health care reform. Everything about the issue, from Obama to the self-defeating Democrats to the obstructionist Republicans, has me reaching for the nearest vomit bag. Granted, I knew that this country was too big to accept the best (and, in the long run, only curative) option for our ailing, corrupt health system: socialized, single-payer health care. You know, like every other developed country on this planet. But even if we aren't going to do that, then a true public option offered by the government, alongside the private insurance options, would work some free-market magic in the citizens' favor. Hell, maybe there's still good nuggets to mine from the current trainwreck. But as I see it now, the Senate bill is one big blunder. It's the worst kind of compromise, one that might actually be worse than the status quo. We'll see.
This isn't self-righteous indignation, or the kind of hand-rubbing, poll-tracking, I-told-you-so cynicism expressed by many eager to see Obama go down in flames, no matter what the cost to the country. It's not the kind of concern that has me thinking about the Democrats' political chances in 2010 or what this will mean to Suzy Q. Demographic in Peoria. It isn't what the Republicans are apparently pinning all of their hopes on to have a prayer in 2010 or 2012. It's a genuine sadness that has me questioning whether or not reconciliation is even possible anymore.
And that brings me to the second major cause for burnout:
2) I'm just as sick of 90 percent of liberals and progressives at the moment. One thing I've always criticized about the right - and is true now more than ever - is how politics and purity are everything to them. How they really believe that there is a real America and an un-American America, and only one is worthy of the name.
In recent months, the GOP has been undergoing a purity test, with a statement of values that aims to sharpen the old canard that Republicans fall in line, as opposed to love. And we, as liberals and Democrats, mock them for this, wondering why they pimp so hard for a Sarah Palin instead of a Charlie Crist or even a Bobby Jindal. Obviously, an extremely partisan, divisive figure is not going to get you votes. I've always admired the Democrats for understanding that better than the GOP.
But now, whenever I hear a friend refute their support for Obama or read endless threads calling for Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich to challenge the president in the next cycle, I realize how that's exactly the same thing.
Hey, I understand. I've taken political ideology quizzes that ranked me as 100 percent aligned with Kucinich. In the 2004 primaries, I thought Dean was the best candidate. But if there's one thing that I've always known about myself, it's that I'm not, and never have been, the norm. That's both the beauty and the curse of living in such a large, democratic society as ours: in order to have an effective leader, you can't swing too far one way or the other. Kucinich might have been the best president ever, but a country as diverse as ours would never give him the chance to prove it. And without that chance, he can't be effective and the other side has seized the reins.
Obama won not because he appealed to liberals; it was because he appealed to far more people as well. You have to do that to get elected president, especially as a Democrat. He had an otherworldly aura about him that was largely made-up in a lot of people's minds, which is the major source of disappointment these days. After all, he did promise to escalate in Afghanistan. I didn't care for that, and that's one campaign promise I wouldn't have minded him not keeping. But I still supported him overall, because that's one issue, and anyway I feel anything he does is the result of at least some thought on his part. For that alone, he is miles above the previous White House occupant.
Does that make me a shameless Obamabot? No. There's nothing wrong and everything right with holding his feet to the fire. But because of everything he has shown himself to be, I'm able to at least understand where he's coming from when he makes a decision. And there's always the chance that he is, in fact, doing the best with what he's been given and with the political labyrinth in which he operates. And that he is thinking 10 moves ahead. In that respect, Obama actually gives me more hope than anyone else that could have been in his spot.
If that's too nuanced for those of you who think Obama is already an irrevocable failure because of his perceived sellouts, then I'm sorry. I've been called naive before for saying these things, but the real naivete comes from those who think that political change happens on a dime, with no resistance, and that instant gratification is possible or even preferable to lasting change.
When discussing the Saints-Colts path to perfection, football analysts often shortchange the Saints, saying they've lost for so long, they don't know how to win. This is, of course, a ridiculous notion. But many Obama's supporters seem so eager to desert him, that I wonder if that would apply in this case. And if so, who would they ever stand by? It's all too easy for me to imagine President Dean or Kucinich falling hard the first time they made a centrist move. Imagine the massive sense of betrayal! And that's what it would be, because too many liberals are contrarian hipster cynics who know little more than how to oppose. And that's no different than those on the right who insist on their way or the highway.
Let's hold Obama and Congress accountable, not out to dry. There's far more at stake than some petty political squabble. Like the world.