Monday, July 14, 2008

Will I flip-flop?

So I walk into this bar... well, it was actually a cafe. I didn't actually walk in. No, I did. But I rode there on my motorcycle with my wife. We both walked into this bar cafe. There's no punchline. We just walked in.

We were there for a meeting of supposedly like-minded Obama supporters, and without dragging this out much more, we got on to the subject of the recent FISA vote, and Obama's support for that garbage bill, and why I decided to stop donating time and money to the Obama campaign. I was there to air my grievances face-to-face with other Obama supporters, instead of anonymously online in that big-ass group of pissed-off supporters angry over the FISA flip-flop. But I wasn't just venting, I was also looking for an open discussion, hoping to gain insight into the perspectives of others on this issue. I learned a long time ago that it was pointless to stand around pissing and moaning about a problem without having an intention to actually solve the problem. So there I was.

Or, there we were. Talking about this FISA issue. Some folks weren't wholly versed on the matter, and some seemed to be. All seemed to understand that this was a serious issue. A thoughtful discussion ensued, and I was actually surprised by a bit of insight I got from the discussion. Ironically, the insight didn't come directly from this conversation, but comically enough, the insight was allowed to happen based on something I read earlier in the day. I say 'comically' because what I had read earlier was in a write-up about the new Batman movie.

As cheeky as it sounds, there was some gravity in that write-up, as with most Batman write-ups post-Heath Ledger. The point that was being made is that despite the power of Heath's performance, and that of the character the Joker, the director was intent on making the Joker an 'absolute' in the story. The story wasn't 'about' the Joker, but the Joker was the catalyst for the story.

I meditated on that idea of catalyst all afternoon. Then, after I walked into the cafe and started on about the FISA BS, what came out of the discussion was the idea of Obama being not the embodiment of change, but the catalyst of change.

From the perspective of Obama as an absolute in the equation for change, it becomes imperative that he win this election, if for nothing else than the possibility and survival of all of the change movements that will erupt after his victory. Much like all of the social justice and liberty movements that sprung forth from JKF's and MLK's successes, so too will many worthwhile social justice movements explode into being if Obama wins.

But if McCain wins, there will be no explosions of justice, but explosions of bombs on innocent peoples. There will be no eruption of justice or liberty, but the exact opposite. If the ever-malleable McCain wins the oval office, twilight will have set on America, and only darkness will follow (at least for all besides the top 10%).

So at this moment, I am still incredibly pissed about this FISA bill, and incredibly disappointed in Obama's support for it. I'm not fired up and I'm not ready to go. But I am ready to re-consider my attitude, and may actually swallow hard and take one for the team. Not for the sake of Obama's team, but for the sake of the progressive movement at large.

Forgetting about Barack Obama the man, and embracing Barack Obama the idea is meaningful in more ways than most can imagine in one sitting. For America to elect an black man as president will cement in the minds of "low information" peoples of the world the idea that America is truly the land of opportunity and equality. And while the intellectuals might bicker over the nuances of whether he is white enough or black enough, right enough or left enough, they will all undoubtely accept that a black American president is truly transformational.

The possibilities that will emerge from an Obama presidency are almost too much to imagine, but the crushing repression and suffocating lack of possibility that would follow a McCain presidency is very easy to imagine. We've been living a form of that for nearly the past eight years, and it will only get worse with McCain, the malleable master of the flip-flop. The Pander Bear.

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