Friday, October 24, 2008

If they had known more about Lincoln...

My only political blog entry, since the coming election is scary important.
First off, nothing you can tell me about President Lincoln will change my mind--he was the greatest man of his day, maybe all days, as far as being an American citizen. Someone else might have let the south secede--good grief, what would this continent, even the world, look like today? Honestly, I could see a slave-economy Confederacy having sided with facists in WW II. It must have been horrific to preside over the country during a half-million casualty civil war, but he got us through it, and displayed a humility at the end that started the country mending. However, we know now he suffered crippling depression at times, and that alone would probably shoot down his chances of presidency in today's vicious politic arena.
If greatness is evident only as a factor of the times, then which of our two viable choices for the coming election is capable of keeping the Union whole, of pulling us out of economic disaster or facing world war, of dodging the missiles of October? Is a "strong" leader strong in any and every circumstance, or do we have to win a cosmic lottery to have the right person at the right time?
The former possibility seems a long shot, but I think the latter is even more remote. I'd hate to think we just got lucky at critical junctures in our history. We are at another critical juncture, most of us believe.
If we can say we really know the candidates and can believe their promises, then what issue should we use to gauge, what should sway us. I once told my oldest daughter that during one election, I got emotional and voted solely on the right to life issue. Formerly a commited pro-choicer, I had an epiphany after hearing about all the abortion options and seeing what a fetus looks like at various stages. I could not fool myself into believing life, and the right to live, begins at birth; especially when fetuses are surviving ever-earlier pre-mature births. That said, I still feel there are circumstances where it might be "the right thing to do." Instances such as rape, incest and health of the mother. I realize that in saying that last part, I am hedging and therefore not in complete agreement with pro-life; but I'm OK with this seeming disconnect. I think few things pass a true "black or white" test.
It's really complicated out there, almost nothing is black or white. The candidate who makes a sweeping, concrete promise is overstating the power of the president. Both candidates say they will cut taxes--a lot. The experts say we can never afford it, and simple logic confirms it--we can't pay bills now, how can we cut government revenue?
OK, if we can't base our decision on campaign promises, maybe we have to "like" our candidate. Wait a minute, how can we like a candidate who has questionable acquaintenances, or one who wages a relentless negative campaign? Jeez, how distasteful!
Maybe we should go with experience. One has oodles, but has been around a loooooong time getting it. Should we be worried he'll die and pass the mantle to ....ulp. Experience would not carry the day there. The other has a short resume but lots of charisma. Does charisma = experience? Maybe not. If this one died in office, the VP would have oodles of experience, but you can't base a vote solely on expecting the death of a healthy young candidate.
So here's my point. The history books don't say all Lincoln's faults were widely known--and it's a sure thing all Nixon's and Kennedy's faults weren't. Simply put, we don't need to know everything we already know about these candidates. It's not that important. We only need to answer two questions: do we like the way things are going? And does the candidate mean to change that or not?
It may be just a question of faith. What do we believe will happen. I think it's as simple as this: one candidate will likely change things, one will largely not.
That's all I need to know, or believe. I know how I will vote.

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