Monthly Archives: October 2008


My father is not well. He readily admits his time is short, and the encroaching spectre of The End has made him a more reflective man than I have ever known him to be. Over the past few weeks, he’s spent a lot of time talking about what he will take away from this life when he leaves it. Difficult stuff, to be sure, but hours I will cherish.

To my surprise, Dad has not moved toward religion in his last days. Instead, he’s found his spirituality in family and friends. According to him, the people he loves are the ones who have filled his life with light, not the promises made in his Bible. Last week he said Christianity always gave him the same comfort he remembers from childhood–the feeling of cuddling up by a warm fire with a good story and a parent to reassure him that in the end, everything would be okay. But it’s the end. And everything is not okay.

Dad is a self-made man who came up from nothing. To him, personal responsibility is the foundation of our society. He didn’t believe that men, black or white, should rely on anyone, especially not the government. But as he watched his life savings drain away with his health, and the dreams of his children fade as we struggled to pay the bills to keep him alive, that ideology began to feel disconnected from reality. The Conservatism he taught me encouraged unrepentant faith in the Free Market–if you believe, you will prosper. But we believed. And we are not prospering. We are withering away.

Dad has long since abandoned the Conservative cause–not just because he felt betrayed by George W. Bush, but because his perspective on life changed the longer he lived it. As many of you have pointed out, I’ve begun to question my own devotion to the party as a result. In recent weeks, the debacle of McCain/Palin has accelerated my move away from Conservatism so rapidly, I can’t even see my old mindset on the horizon anymore. And in the wake of my retreat, a new question has emerged: why did I hold these beliefs so close for so long? Maybe I, like my father, needed that comfort of a parent reading a storybook, assuring me that I would be safe and secure if I would just close my eyes and go to sleep.

I feel like a stranger to my all-too-recent self. There was an obstinance to my thinking, a stubborn determination to stick to the “values” of Republicanism, even when the moral failure of that ideology was staring me in the face. It is remarkable that in spite of the disaster of the past 8 years, so many of us continue to believe in that story, to stay Republican on faith alone. We have been told from a young age that belief is the greatest virtue, that faith makes a man. But it doesn’t. In this case, faith just makes a good consumer.

We are the wealthiest country in the world, and yet we are the only industrialized nation where a health problem can bankrupt an otherwise secure financial existence. We tell our citizens that cutting taxes for the wealthiest will somehow “trickle down” to them, but it simply doesn’t. The idea that every man must live and work for himself has not served us well. If we are to survive, we must embrace a shared purpose.

So I will vote for Barack Obama on November 4th.

I will vote for him because I want to learn from our past and evolve to a better future. I will vote for him for my children, in hopes that their American story will not mirror mine. But most of all, I will vote Obama because my father would have done it, as a final dissertation on his experience in this life. He may not have the opportunity to put his change of heart into action. But by changing me, he already has.



Filed under October 2008

The Ignorant Are Lit!

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to those who have sent their condolences over the past few weeks. And to all who have written, wondering if I dropped off the face of the earth, rest assured that I have not. This isn’t a personal blog, so I won’t go into every reason for my absence. But if I veer towards the confessional, forgive me–these have not been easy times.

So what did I see on the hospital TV this past week? I watched crowds of aggressively stupid white people call Barack Obama a terrorist. I watched an old lady tell John McCain (the poor bastard) that Barack Obama was an Arab, in a quiet whisper like she knew it was bullshit. Then I watched the Real Americans around her wince and laugh: “Cripes, lady, we can spread that lie in secret but don’t actually say it on TV like you think it’s true…”

I know a lot of conservatives who are deeply embarrassed by the bottom-feeders who came out of the woodwork with renewed confidence after Palin lit the fires. To me, last week recalled Tolkien: “And the summons-by-fire spreads across the kingdom, from mountaintop to mountaintop and the sentinels shout the triumphant news – “The ignorant are lit!”

Then, of course, there was the Black Man for McCain in that audience. You can find him about halfway through the clip below. No, it wasn’t me. If it had been, not only would he have been better-looking, but he wouldn’t have suggested that Obama’s “soft spot” was Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. I might have said something about the need for McCain to use his foreign policy expertise, so ably demonstrated in both debates, to make a specific argument about the future of both wars–how we will win in Afghanistan and draw down in Iraq while leaving behind a stable democracy. Or I would have asked him to play up his (very) good idea to allow retirees to hold their 401K’s beyond the required cashout date so their stock portfolios can bounce back. Or at least focus on a clear message instead of grasping at straws.

But this cat figures the way to take down the first black president is to make sure everybody knows he had an angry black pastor and sat on a board with a 60’s radical. In a time of economic collapse in all corners of the economy, two wars, terrorism, health-care related bankruptcies, mass forclosures, skyrocketing unemployment, a massive transfer of wealth overseas and a paralyzing fear of tomorrow’s bad news, my man thinks the road to victory runs through…where? Way to think it through, brother.

My father and I have spent countless hours in this room together over the past few weeks, and in that time we’ve discovered a great many things. One, we need to put some serious American ingenuity into improving our hospital food. Two, doctors and nurses do not support John McCain’s health care policy. At all. And three, the conservative ideology has managed to attract a lot of vindictive, uneducated, confidently ignorant motherfuckers. (Sorry, friends, I’m gonna swear pretty regularly from here on out. Love me or leave me.)

As I’ve said before, it’s a strange time to be a Conservative. We’re down the rabbit hole here, people. And, sadly, Republicans are only making it worse.


Filed under October 2008