We are doomed

Here’s a quick rundown on a conversation I had recently.

“I’d never vote for Obama in a million years.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t trust him, and it’s not because he’s black.”

“Then why? Is it something he said? Something he didn’t say? Something about his background? Do you disagree with one of his positions?”

“No, there’s just something about him. I don’t know what it is, I just don’t trust him.”

I’m not going to delve too deeply into the “it’s not because he’s black” comment. I’m just saying it’s interesting it came up without prompting. What troubles me (besides the black comment) is: our criteria for the ideal candidate is completely and unapologetically superficial. Maybe it’d make more sense if someone beat me with a pipe wrench.

One of my favorite bits from Stephen Colbert’s infamous roast of Bush at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner was his opening. (transcript / video)

Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert, and tonight it is my privilege to celebrate this president, ‘cause we’re not so different, he and I. We both get it. Guys like us, we’re not some brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut. Right, sir?

That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ’cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works.

How many of you listened to your gut when you went to the polls in 2000? How about 2004? How did that turn out? Hell, a lab animal will stop pressing a lever after being shocked a few times. Do you have a gut we can believe in? If you’re still reading, I have this crazy idea I’d like you to consider. Let’s try choosing a candidate based on issues.

Maybe you think I’m being a little arrogant – assuming my candidate is the only one who wins on the issues. You know where I come from politically. I’m a living, breathing, political stereotype – born in the northeast, registered Democrat, never voted for a Republican Presidential candidate. (I wasn’t old enough until the 1992 election, so can you really blame me?)

But please, tell me where I’m wrong. Tell me where I’ve mixed up or exaggerated either candidates’ stand on the issues. Do you support the candidate who has consistently said (or strongly implied) the problem with Bush/Cheney’s foreign policy is it’s been too reserved in its use of military force? Do you support the candidate who believes the problem with the economy is it doesn’t give enough tax breaks to the wealthy? Do you support the party who will still tell you – with a straight face – our big problem is too much regulation. (Raise your hands… how many of you had money in AIG too?) Do you support the party who would continue to run regulatory agencies with the word “no” stricken from their vocabulary (unless they’re dealing with citizens’ groups)? Do you believe the free market is a magic pill for healthcare in this country? Do you believe the only thing standing between the uninsured and good healthcare is a tax credit that reimburses a fraction of the cost of premiums next year (when they file a return)? Are you against abortion, even in cases of rape or incest? Are you against equal rights for same sex partners? Do you support banning books in public libraries? Do you believe the evidence for mankind’s responsibility for global warming is inconclusive (at best)? Do you doubt the usefulness of renewable energy resources?

If you found yourself nodding your head a lot then the McCain/Palin ticket probably is your best bet. I wouldn’t be surprised. The words “liberal” and “regulation” have been thoroughly and effectively demonized by the right. You’ll make my heart ache, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion. However, if you’re still reading then there’s still hope. Look at the campaign he’s run and the running mate he’s picked. Look at the big hole dug by eight years of Bush and conservatism/neo-conservatism. Ask yourself if McCain is any different, or even remotely different enough.

Now ask yourself if your gut getting in the way of good sense.

Give the gift of words.