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You know? I considered emailing to ask what you thought of the choices (being one of the only non American people I "know") but decided I was being conceited to believe anyone else had an opinion in American politics. I want so much not to be one of "those Americans". I know we aren't the only ones here.

I, personally, register as independant in order to be able to vote either way, and I have. My husband, silly man, is staunchly republican and will defend that party even when it is quite obvious they are wrong. I don't get it either. For what its worth, there are other parties, they just don't get the attention and respect of the country. They seem to be like the little brother (or sometimes, slow cousin) of American politics. Pat on the head and sent on their way.

It has seemed to me, as long as I have voted, that I have been choosing the lesser or two evils. Who will screw this up the least. But this time, I really am excited about Obama. I see, too, the rock star response he gets. I am not sure entirely what to attribute it to. The fact that he is an incredible orator? His age? The promise of change when we so desperately need it? Plus, he is kind of handsome, which, make no mistake, does not a president make - it just might account for a bit of the swooning.

I am curious how this will all work out. I'm very interested to know what other countries think of our candidates (if they care, that is).

Where I lived you don't have to register with party. I am an independent. I don't claim the other 2 because they are both corrupt! I can not wait for the election be over!

(living in Israel but born and raised in the US and a dual citizen - US and Israeli)

I think he gets the pop star treatment because he represents hope to a generation/population that desperately needs it, a modern-day Camelot (JFK) if you will.

Continuing the course that America is on is so deeply frightening to such a large percentage of the population that they are truly in need of a savior, and want desperately to believe that they have found one. Whether he'll turn out to be one or whether he'll end up just another political hack I can't say, but America owes it to itself, to its future, to give him the chance to find out. The alternative is not a future I want to contemplate.

You make a v. v. good point about the two-party system. It is true that there are other parties, but none that truly have a shot (at least so far) at the presidency. I do wish there was a third party that had any clout. Not only for an additional choice of candidate during elections, but to perhaps be a "tiebreaker" to end the gridlock in our government.

As for the current election, I don't care much for Sarah Palin. Don't care what she does personally, but I don't want her (or anyone else's) strong religious views influencing our laws (should she become president). I do see the swooning to which you refer in regards to Obama also, and agree with Em's reasons above why that may be the case. This is also my first time to really be excited about a presidential candidate, and the first time ever that I have a campaign sign on my front lawn (Obama). Whatever happens, my wish is to see a wise leader who can unify this country and improve our relationship with the rest of the world. After the past 8 years, we sure need it!

So interesting to see how someone in another country views our political system. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

And you, dear Tertia, have hit the nail on the head. There are many truths in your post, from the polarization of the political parties, to the "Obama swoon" and the country's reaction to Sarah Palin. It seems that the nation insists on swaying drastically on the love or hate scale. It's more than bit disconcerting.

Hmmm, I am registered as independent. You would not believe how many folks are negative towards such a decision to remain without a party "Well, you must not be strong enough in your beliefs to decide!" Ah my friends, rather, I am strong enough in my beliefs to develop my own thoughts and perspectives and realize that not one party will have all the answers.

The nation's political system was not originally developed to only host a two party system, but it has developed into such a beast.

I'm very proud of my country, but I remember a quote that said "I'm a patriot, not a loyalist". I like that...I support my country, but I will not blindly follow any leader or group if I don't like where they are taking things. Typical American Chutzpah. ;)

I agree that Obama represents a definate change in the wind that we've all been waiting for. He also is a very very skilled orator, and can electrify an audience with his passionate delivery. (See a YouTube clip of his DNC speech 2004) I'm an independent too, due to the pathetic curruption of both parties. We met Senator Obama though, and both my daughter and I were awestruck. (We are NOT easily awestruck either!)

Ardent Democrat and Obama supporter here. I think we Dems are so excited about Obama because he's such a great candidate. Our last candidate was OK, but Obama just kicks ass. He's smart, highly educated, a great speaker, a good human being with (as far as we know) no skeletons in his closet, a family man, a dedicated social servant. He's a life success story - abandoned by his father, raised poor, and rose up to his position through hard work. I love the guy, and his positions on the issues of the day mirror my own quite well.

My in-laws are rabid Republicans. We got into a yelling match with them over Palin a couple of days ago. They refuse to accept that the woman doesn't know what she's talking about and has embarrased herself publicly on several occassions. I kind of feel sorry for Palin too, but on the other hand, she knew when she took the job that the Dems and media would try to tear her apart. If she wasn't up for it, she should have said no.

The Republicans and media have tried to tear Obama apart too, but it seems to roll right off. That's because he is firm in his convictions and eloquent in expressing them.

I can only speak for myself, but I will say that I don't identify myself as a Democrat or as a Republican. And I will say that I have heard from BOTH sides that since I don't identify with THEM, I must be the OTHER. It's rather annoying for me. The Democratic party represents some of my opinions, the Republican party also represents some of my opinons. And some of my opionions are not represented or even addressed by either party.

The blog world LURVES to hate on the Republicans. As you said, they can tend to worship Obama. So even if I want to vote for him, I almost don't want to align myself with those haters and worshipers (often the same people). And although I agree with some Republican sentiments, some die-hard Republicans I know think all non-Republicans are atheist sodomizing irresponsible bra-burners, and I don't want to align myself with that thinking, either. Sigh. I wish there was a party that didn't have wackos vitriolicly supporting it.

My biggest problem is that I am apathetic, and think that neither party is going to make that big a difference to my life, anyway.

Another Israeli here. Please explain one thing I didn't understand and don't know (sorry for my ignorance). What do you mean by "registered as independent voter"? You have to register to vote, you are not automatically invited to vote? And when you register, isn't everybody an independent voter?

Don't eat me alive but I don't understand that system. I guess many people don't make an effort to vote if they have to register for it. So how high is your voter turnout?

I also don't get the two system party and the strong personalization of politics. And I, too, come from a political madhouse, too, Israel is really a rollercoaster as far as our government is concerned - but a rollercoaster that goes DOWNwards all the time >:-(

So I don't criticize I only wonder. Here in Israel we have probably too many parties. In my native Germany, there are five big parties. And there is also no registration for voters. You get an invitation from the place of residence where you are registered, and that's it.

I follow the American election drama with interest and find in both candidates much to support and admire. I'm sorry for their families, being dragged to the cruel limelights like that. I don't even know how President Peres' wife looks, honestly, and I'm an avid follower of local politics. But it's simply no issue at all. I fear the personal factor can drift into gossipy depths and cloud the objective issues at hand. Because you vote for a program, not only a person.

Palin, well, I'm ambivalent about her. On the one hand, kudos to a mother of five who does an important job and has the personal guts to take on such responsibility like a VP's job offer. She's my age, I have four children, and I can identify with her as a person. On the other hand, listening to her interviews, wow, she sounds a bit flimsy on many, many difficult questions. I'm sorry for her too, I think much of the vitriol against her is not founded on real problems but has irrational roots I prefer not to examine.

So I don't know what I would vote for if I was an American. But yes, I also follow the reports and watch the interviews and read blogs. It's wonderful that our world has become so easily accessible and we can learn so much from each other and about each other.
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Sarah Palin: thinks abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape an incest. Do you need to know much else about why some of us hate her so deeply? If so, how about the fact that she was largely selected to win over women voters, as though we care only about the gynecology of the vice president and are too dumb witted to consider her misogynistic policies. So yeah, on top of the fact that her policy views are abhorrent, it's also really insulting how she came to be selected.

Lila,
I SO agree at how gossipy it seems. That I don't care for. With everything political, it's so hard to see through the smoke and mud. I admire Palin for what she has accomplished as a woman and a mother and I would LOVE to start seeing women in positions as powerful as president and vice president but not any woman and it's my personal opinion that she is underqualified. As my comment above reflects though, my husband disagrees (vehemently). I'm good on people having differing opinions.

As for registering, it is a simple process done at the city hall or even through the mail, I believe. You choose a party to affliate with or you choose to be independent and not join a party. Voter turnout is embarrassing. I looked online and it seems like the numbers are around 64% in 2004. That bothers me because of the sacrifices that we made for us to vote and for all of the people worldwide who would kill or die for the privlege. That said, I make it a point to learn about the candidates and the only thing that scares me more than people not voting is people voting without educating themselves first.

I get very nervous in political discussions because people do take it all very personally.

Sarah Palin: thinks abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape an incest. Do you need to know much else about why some of us hate her so deeply? If so, how about the fact that she was largely selected to win over women voters, as though we care only about the gynecology of the vice president and are too dumb witted to consider her misogynistic policies. So yeah, on top of the fact that her policy views are abhorrent, it's also really insulting how she came to be selected.

Excuse me, where I wrote "we made" was meant to be "were made". The only sacrifice I've made to vote is to go out in the rain. Which is kind of my point

The reason I hate Sarah Palin, if I may use such a strong word, is that her views are completely offensive to me as a woman. As someone said, she is completely "pro-life", which means she wants to take away a woman's right to reproductive freedom. With several of our Supreme Court Justices nearing retirement or death (they serve a life-long term), whoever the next President is will probably have opportunity to nominate at least one Justice, maybe more. The goal of the pro-lifers is to stack the court with pro-life Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Depending on who wins this election there is the very real possibility that we and our daughters will have our rights severely limited. These people are also against stem cell research, and in several states, are trying to make it illegal to do IVF (as they believe each embryo should have full human "rights"). As someone who is currently pregnant from IVF, this makes my skin crawl.

As if that isn't enough, Sarah Palin also is a creationist who believes that the earth is 6000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time. I'm a Christian myself, and certainly don't object to someone having a personal faith, but I'd be quite nervous having someone in high office who has so little respect for common sense and scientific evidence.

In that same vein, Sarah Palin also denies that global warming exists, or that climate change is affected by human activity. She is not a conservationist; in fact, believes that polar bears should NOT be on the endangered species list even though their habitat is melting out from under them as we speak. She's adamant about drilling for oil in the Alaskan wilderness; and would never favor policies that would protect the environment from destruction.

Plus, she's arrogant, snarky, divisive, and just plain unqualified. Why would I like her? Why would I want to see her a heartbeat away from the Presidency of my country? It would be a total nightmare...

It was great to read your outside views Tertia. I think you are very right. I'm republican, and why I might not always align myself directly with the parties views, it is often the theology behind how those opinions are made. Rep are all about personal responsibility and small government, and dems are more about having the government regulate everything, trade, medical etc. As for Palin, I'm amazed at how narrow minded some people are about her but then openly welcome Obama. The Republicans in office don't want to make abortions illegal, they want Roe vs. Wade overturned and for it to be handled on the state level because Republicans don't think it's the federal governments right to make such a decision- which goes back to small government.
Both sides are so very passionate about their opinions! I also can't wait for the election to just be over with!

passions are running high because the stakes are very, very high in this election. Between the economy and the war Americans are feeling far more vulnerable than we have in generations. We are getting personal with our criticism of politicians because the stakes are feeling very personal.

oh geez. I live in Washington, DC and I am ready for the election to be over. Both parties are guilty of ridiculous behavior. Have you seen the Palin interview with Katie Couric? Here is a link for anyone interested. She is ill-prepared to be so close to presidency. Ughh!

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/220136.php

Can we get back to matters related to IF now, pleeeeasssseee.

Also- being a "registered member" of a party does not mean anything really because when it comes time to vote you can vote for whoever you want regardless of your registered party. I think the only time it comes into play is during the primaries because in some states you can only vote in whichever party you are registered with.

PP's are saying "independent voter" but I think they mean "NON-PARTISAN". "Independent" is one of the registered voters. Ralph Nader
ran as an Independent. I am registered as "non-partisan" so I can vote in the primary elections (where we narrow the candidates).

I live in Anchorage, Alaska so I'm pretty familiar with Sarah Palin as our Governor. I voted for her as Governor (she was the lessor of 2 evils) but will not vote for her as VP! She's pretty much as you see her ~ straight talk but way too conservative! (for me) She believes in absence instead of sex ed & now she has pg 17 year old...HELLO SARAH!!! Did that theory work? NO!

America is in a bad way & people need to wake up. The current admin is responsible for the poor economic state we're in ~ it's sad. Yesterday in Anchorage there was a huge rally where a few thousand people showed up for an anti-Palin rally. That's a lot of people for Anchorage (Population about 380,000 on a sunny day).

Anyway, thanks for the interesting topic Tertia & glad that you're tuned in on the inpending election.

T

Ah, Tertia. Your observations and questions about our whacked political system are so spot on it's almost hard to believe you've only just started checking us out. We haven't always been so polarized, nor has political party always been so tied up in one's identity. Happily, I live in the the state of Illinois where we do not have to declare a political party in order to vote in the primaries. (The primaries are preliminary elections where members of a particular party actually run against each other for the honor of representing their party to run against the other party for a particular office). I can vote in the Democratic primary one year and the Republican party the next. Which is good for me because I am an independent.

That said, I am one of those "over the moon" pro-Obama people. I was an infant when John F. Kennedy was killed. Al my life I've wondered why he was so revered when he was only president for such a short time (under 3 years) and had some major international crises handled less than perfectly on his watch (The Bay of Pigs and The Cuban Missile Crisis). I've always been told that it was because he inspired hope and service to others in the people of the U.S. This seemed so weird to me because I couldn't imagine any of the presidents in my lifetime inpiring me in that way.

Then four years ago Barack Obama gave a nationally televised speech as a relative uknown. It was mesmerizing. He described a kind of healing he believed could happen in our polarized, fractured country -- a country torn right down the middle by the presidency of George W. Bush. It was a country I knew we could be again under Obama's leadership. He wasn't even in the Senate yet, so imaginging he might be president some day seemed ludicrous, much less that it could actually be in four short years. I think it is this hope -- for the kind of country we've been told our lives that the U.S. is, even while seeing very little evidence of it -- that makes people so unabashedly devoted to Obama.

The truth is, I agree with Obama on many more policies that I do McCain, but not on everything. Which is why I can't officially call myself a Democrat. McCain used to be very respected by the Democratic party as a Republican who was most like them, but he has tossed all that goodwill aside in order to try and win this election and it is sad to see. He is a legitimate, inpiring hero and I want to respect him and be for him. I just can't.

And, as for Palin, we've endured eight years of a president who wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. With McCain's age and medical history, Palin has probably the best shot of any recent potential VP to wind up president and I just don't think we can risk it with her. I don't know that we've ever had a major party candidate with less experience than she has and it scares me that feminists will vote for her just because she's a woman, even though she doesn't believe in core issues that are important to women like equal pay for equal work. I think the snarkiness you read in left-leaning blogs is due to the frustration that women may be for her without knowing what she stands for.

I've been waiting to hear your thoughts on the political situation in SA. It looks pretty messy from here.

The people who tend to comment on news websites or blogs tend to be WAY more partisan/ fervent about their candidate than the general population. If everyone were that partisan, we wouldn't have any of those undecided swing voters.

I think some of those people are paid to spend all day inserting pro/com comments. Also, as you have found, the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in us. No, people don't insult each other like that in real life because someone supports a different candidate!

I'm registered as a Democrat, but would consider voting for a Republican depending on the particular situation/ candidate. However, the Bush administration has been very partisan e.g. you're either with us or against us, if you question anything we say, you are supporting the terrorists. As a result, Obama really appeals to me right now. I believe he can restore America's standing in the world, which is at an all-time low at the moment.

Zuma=scary, that's all I can say. And thank god Dr. Beetroot got the boot at long last!

Oh Tertia...what a can of worms you've popped open here! ;)

There are other options. I am a member of the Libertarian party and believe you me, I get SUCH crap from people from both parties when I tell them I'm voting for neither one. (Have I mentioned being called a traitor to my gender because I wouldn't support Hillary Clinton?) The crap comes mostly from one party's supporters, though. The other side isn't as judgmental. I'll let you figure out which side is which.

And I do feel sorry for Sarah Palin. She's been scrutinized more than any Vice-Presidential candidate I can remember. She's too socially conservative for my tastes, but people are mocking her religious beliefs and what she named her children, for goodness' sakes!

We're going to have more of the same no matter who gets into office. McCain missed 64% of the Senate votes this term - he's #1 in missed votes. Obama missed 45.9% - #3 in missed votes. You know who's #2? A guy who had a freaking brain hemorrhage! If they don't care about their constituencies right now, I have little faith they'll care about the rest of us once they get the top job.

I am also an independent voter. We dont have to have party affiliation here.

As a Canadian I know little about American politics (but more than the average American knows about CANADIAN politics for sure!) It would seem if you run for office your life IS scrutinized, critiqued and torn apart. Brutal stuff.

We have had Bush for eight years - is it any wonder that we are desperate for someone to represent common decency and fairness in our country? Look at the disaster the last two terms have left us with - clearly the current methods of favoring big business and claiming that the profits will "trickle down" are a scam.

Even if Obama turns out to be only half as good as his rhetoric promises, we will have leadership that really is trying to do the right thing.

And don't worry about poor Sarah Palin - she is proud of her views: that evolution is made-up, that creationism should be taught in public schools, she doesn't believe in global warming, bought her way to popularity in Alaska by giving every resident $1200 dollar "rebates" in a state with no income tax, and wouldn't approve a budget for her state's school system, which has the lowest high-school graduation rate in our country. Maybe that seems like a bunch of unrelated topics to you, but to me it represents an across-the-board take on why I don't want that person a heartbeat away from being in charge of the entire country.

Where's the surprise in the election if you have to register your vote/affiliation beforehand? I don't get it.

I find it hugely scary that it seems one individual, the president, has so much say/control/power rather than the party. In NZ the Prime-minister is the leader of the party in power but not the sole decision-maker. We have a sort of left/right party system (but both are fairly left-wing compared to America) and both are fairly liberal rather than conservative, again compared to the US. I can't imagine abortion being up for debate.

I would venture to say the majority of Americans are quite dissatisfied with the two party system. Although there are extremists on both sides, most of us fall somewhere in between. I definitely lean Republican, but am actually a registered Democrat - figure that one out!

And, good call on Obama. It's a lot of hype, and very little substance. As for McCain...well...he's not a thrilling candidate, but I have to admit he has a lot more going than Obama. If that man goes into office, I'll likely go out of business, unfortunately.

We do tend to take politics rather seriously here, I am what they call a "yellow dog" Democrat, i.e. I would rather vote for a yellow dog than for a Republican. I have never voted Republican. I can't really imagine a scenario in which I would, as I feel strongly opposed to much of the Republican agenda.

That said I have elderly family members who are Republicans. Can't say I agree with their politics, but we do get along in just about every other way!

In terms of Sarah Palin, the idea of her becoming president is scary, frightening and horrifying. In her interview with Katie Couric she had no idea what she was talking about and came off like a confused beauty queen. Scary. She might be a nice person, but she in no way belongs in the White House.

sounds like south africans pick winners about as often as americans do.

palin deserves all she gets. everybody in the united states knows how the game is played. when you run for president, or vice-president, this is what you get, and if she didn't know that when she signed on, she's too stupid to be running in the first place. she could have said no and stayed home in alaska (where, with any luck, she will be returning soon).

in addition to all her other stupidities, inadequacies, ignorances, and failings (she has foreign policy experience because alaska borders canada and russia? so do i! texas borders mexico!), let's also not forget that she is corrupt and is obstructing an investigation into her corruption (that she asked for) because it's politically inconvenient. we've already had seven and a half years of that. cry me a fucking river and start the impeachment hearings already.

and yes, she is a big deal. any life insurance agent will give you 1-in-4 odds that she will finish mccain's first term, and that's without somebody trying to shoot at him. (remember, he's 74 and has a history of malignant cancer.) so asking, do we want this narrow-minded, corrupt, bible-thumping, science-denying mental dwarf in a position to succeed mccain is a very valid question.

there is video of her at her church IN JEEBUS NAME WE PRAY! that she be protected from WITCHCRAFT!!! and this wasn't 20 years ago. it was right before she became governor of alaska. did you know they still burn witches at the stake in some parts of africa? would she want to do that here, too?

and if you wonder why we're so serious about the abortion thing, think of it this way: this is a woman who would have let cecily die, or uncommon misconception's thomas live and suffer horribly. it's not at all an understatement to say she believes that.

and there are some who say we shouldn't judge her religious beliefs. bogus. to the extent her religious convictions guide her policy decisions, they're fair game. i don't make judgments about tom cruise ... but tom cruise isn't running for veep.

so don't feel sorry for palin. she's a real serious freak job and she knew what she was getting into ... and if she didn't, she's even more of an idiot than i'm already convinced she is.

oh -- the reason there are only two major parties in the united states is that, once in power, they've rigged the rules to prevent the emergence of any more. the #1 problem for people trying to form a new party is ballot access -- that is, getting on the ballot. it requires big money and tens of thousands of signatures gathered in a very short period of time, and you have to do it 50 times (for each state). but, if you're running on one of the major parties tickets, it's automatic for you! if it were as simple as, you file your forms and pay your fee and you're done, we wouldn't have that problem.

We watch the American election run up with interest in NZ too - we get lots of coverage and it's all being heavily debated in the workplace. The majority polled here support Obama as Kiwis view him as a fresh face. This is despite Obama being more protectionist than McCain and, potentially, Obama slowing imports (exports being something NZ relies on heavily).

Our election comes up before the American one. Here we have two votes as we run under an MMP system (Mixed Member Proportional). This means you vote for a candidate in your electorate and a Party. So you could vote for Mr Sands who is Labour while voting for Greens as a political party. This ensures that smaller parties do get some representation in parliament and that the political system is more balanced. We used to be FFP (First Past the Post) - which is your system I believe whereby the Party with the most seats rules the house if past a minimum seat requirement.

T, you've just managed to spell out my biggest problems with the American system, and very concisely. It makes me crazy.

And RainbowW...I think I luv you...

You seem to really have a good grasp on all of this. I've always been a pretty committed Republican, but this election has changed that. 8 years ago I was a staunch McCain supporter. Now I don't feel he has the right answers, the answers that make sense, to some important questions.

I also find that my views on different issues go with each party.

The Obama heroism thing is pretty strong. But if you've heard him speak (and address issues you are passionate about) it's hard not to feel that way. He is invigorating to listen to. And he does things that are just human. During a speech soon after the conventions I was watching him speak and someone in the crowd fainted. He stopped talking, passed water from his own supply down, and waited for security/EMS to intervene.

It's weird for me; in a lot of areas I am still Republican through and through. But at least for this election I'm going the other way. (There is a degree to which this is a reaction to having voted for Bush. I'm not proud of that.)

I could have written the first post by Em--I am a proud registered Independent because no one party represents my views. Also, I hate the deep divide that the two party system has created. My hubby is an avid republican and it drives him ape sh*t that I am registered as an independent. I make occasional comments about politics but refuse to get into impassioned discussions with him.

Tertia, you hit the nail right on the head about what is going on here. Those who look to Obama are madly in love with the idea of some change...it's got to get better no matter what the change is. Those who look to McCain are grinning and bearing it--a maverick with the threat of more-of-the-same that we have seen over the last eight years.

Ha, as I breeze back over the comments here it is amazing to see all the INDEPENDENTS! Sometimes I feel like the only one out there...especially here in the South in Republicanville.

Thanks for your comments--they give us much to think about as we move to the election.

Wow - I'm actually completely amazed that there aren't more political crazies jumping on this opportunity to grandstand on a popular blog... Guess that just goes to show what a great, mentally balanced (mostly! Hi Zsutsu, or whoever you are!) group of women you've got here, Tertia! My take, being unable to resist this opportunity, is simply to reaffirm what a lot of other commenters have said: a LOT of people in the States are absolutely DESPERATE to get this country moving in a new direction. Obama is not only smart and articulate and thoughtful, but his vision for the future of our country really does bring hope and excitement for so many people who've just been beaten down by the current administration - who've just felt sick and embarrassed and mortified and downright frightened over SO MANY things promoted by our "leaders."

And Sarah Palin? Don't get me started. I'm not interested in personally tearing her down, but she is not qualified to lead our country. Period. I also happen to disagree with her views on virtually every subject, so that doesn't win her any points in my book either.

Also, just as a point of interest, I recall reading somewhere that studies have shown reliable personality differences between Democrats and Republicans - the only part I remember was that Democrats, in general, tend to be more open to change and new experiences, whereas Republicans, in general, tend to be less open to change. This can help explain why so many people within either major party agree on such a huge range of issues. There is actually a lot of really interesting stuff out there showing how whole regions of the country cluster around these different personality traits (not just the ones I mentioned), and therefore result in voting trends (e.g., both coasts being Democrat, and the center of the country and the Deep South being more Republican). Fascinating really.

I think most everyone here is ready for it to be over already. And the two party system is tiring. Because on social issues, I'm very far left but on financial issues I'm more right. There are degrees within each party...you'll hear people talking about moderate Dems and Reps. Like Lieberman is technically a Dem but supports McCain and spoke at the Rep Nat'l Convention.

That being said, I have to admit, I am one of those swooning over Obama because he has substance. There's a depth to him most politicans appear to lack. Take Palin, I don't think she lacks depth but she appears to. I would guess she is in a little over her head and people (reporters, fellow Republicans) are scaring her into talking in circles. So she comes off as incoherent. I could never vote for the McCain/Palin ticket because I don't agree with them on the issues (gay rights, abortion, health care, etc.) but I do think it is a little sad how people have attacked them personally. And the same could be said for how people have attacked Obama on a personal level too...it just happens they are mostly bored with doing that since he has been running for well over a year.

It's bad on both sides and we, as a country, end up looking like children on a playground fighting over a toy.

Yes, you do have to register to vote in the US, and there are many ways to do so.It is quite easy. As for poor Sarah...were she a man, that attended 5 colleges, has been embroiled in scandal after ethical misconduct scandal, had a pregnant 17 year old, and believes that even a 12 year old victim of incest should absolutely be forced to carry that baby to term, well, there is no way he would have gotten the nod from McCain. And I, personally, would never vote for anyone, regardless of their party affiliation, that thinks it is A-OK to shoot wolves from a plane after chasing them to exhaustion. It is the sickest, cruelest thing imaginable. Why do so many of us love Obama? Because the sentiment that "I love my country but fear my government" has never been more true,a nd many of us believe, as our parents did with JFK, that HOPE+ACTION=CHANGE. The alternative is unthinkable.

Hmmm...just have to jump in the fray here. Although this system is called a "two-party system" there are actually many more than that. If you look at the official ballot, I am sure that you will find two dozen candidates running for president and vice-president, including the Socialists, Communists, Libertarians, Green Party (someone erroneously said that Ralph Nadar ran as an Independent...he ran as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000), etc. The fact is, though, that really none of these candidates have a chance of running. There have been a few strong third party candidates in the past 30 years or so (the aforementioned Ralph Nadar, John Anderson, Ross Perot, etc.) but in reality none of them really have a chance of winning.

As for registering to vote. As some have said, that is a simple thing. I first registered when I was in high school. After that everytime I moved and got a new driver's license you can register then too so that is really easy. Some states do not require you to register as any particular party, some do, but even if I register as a Democrat, when it comes time to vote I can vote for Mickey Mouse if I choose.

Someone expressed awe that the president has so much power and was dismayed that so much power resided in the hands of one man. The president does have a lot of power but the American system was designed as a system of checks and balances. If the president starts doing real crazy stuff, first of all he will lose support in the congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives). It is the congress that makes and passes bills and laws. The president either signs them into law or vetoes them. Any veto can be overriden by the congress (must have two thirds majority to override a presidential veto)...usually decided along party lines. So if the president is a democrat and the house is mostly republican he can get overridden easily and, if the president abuses his veto power, he will (be overridden) so he must use this power judiciously. The presidential elections are every 4 years. There are off-year elections where, if the people are dissatisfied with they way things are going, they can change the make-up of the congress (change from mostly Repuclican to mostly Democratic or vice versa) and change the dynamics of the system.

There is a third leg of the pyramid that composes the American Democratic system (the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches) and that is the Supreme Court. Their job is to interpret the law and the Constitution. Another part of the checks and balances system.

This is the end of the lesson. Carry on.

Some people are mocking Sarah Palin's children's names and her religious beliefs, and that is petty (although if she is going to push her faith into public policy, my sympathy ends). But most of us are scared witless at the thought that this overconfident, underprepared political minor-leaguer is in a position to become the next President, because anyone who doesn't think that's a horrible idea is an idiot.
And yes, that was a devisive statement. But there are plenty experienced, qualified politicians out there who could have bolstered McCain's right-wing cred. Palin is unfit for the Presidency.

I like to think of it this way...

If politics were music and the president a music makers....

for the last 8 years we've been listening to elevator music, but the worst possible kind...at deafening, injurious levels...

the republican candidate promises more of the same
is it no wonder that Obama appears a rock star?
(and a well schooled musician at that)

Oh, I did want to say something about Obama and Palin and the blogs you are reading. I really believe you are reading very liberal blogs. Here you see a lot of support for Sarah Palin.

Now as for Obama and his 'star' status. I think people like him (as has been said) because he is a very good-looking, charismatic, very intelligent man. Also his manner of speaking is very self-assured and confident (I also like his wife...she seems very intelligent too). He also represents change and with our economy, this excites a lot of people. For many people I think this also excites them to finally see a non-white anglo-saxon protestant (WASP) man on the ballot...kind of like SA's first non-apartheid election.

He is also tall. In US elections, it is usually the tallest one who wins. Go figure.

Personally, I think Sarah Palin is just sleep-deprived. She's got all these kids, and even if her husband is caring for them we all know that moms can't ever quite let go the way dads can. At least I hope, for the sake of my country if she's elected, that this is the case.

Party registration isn't actually required in all states. Mine does not require you to register as anything, which is nice, and both parties have their primary election on the same day. However, it then does allow to you freely attempt to sabotage a party's primary by voting for the person you think has the least chance of winning against your party's candidate. In the general election, you can always vote for whoever you want, no matter what you are registered as.

I was raised a conservative/Republican in a rural, Midwestern US town. My father was active in local and state politics and I was a member of the Young Republicans. I now live in a very liberal/progressive city and identify as such. I've seen quite a bit of both sides.

When I was younger, it seemed to me that there was a lot more acceptance of the idea that you could have different opinions on the purpose of government without thinking one side was "wrong". I remember having these discussions when I was in the process of switching to the Democrats, and I was told I was young and idealistic, but never that I was on the wrong side. At the time, Republicans stood for smaller government, and the Dems stood for more expansive government control. I mean, it's a legitimate argument to have: Will the private sector handle things properly if given enough time and the right incentives, or is government intervention required in order to protect the rights of everyone? This is a simplified version of the argument, of course, but you get the idea. This goes back all the way to the Founding Fathers, who had the same ideological divide. In fact, Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Republican party and it was at one time thought of as being a more radical and progressive. It was the Southern Democrats that enacted laws to keep blacks from being allowed to vote for years after pushing for slavery to be expanded. This is why Condaleeza Rice has said that she's always been a Republican (though obviously, things have changed pretty dramatically). It's also why we've managed with only two parties for so long - a lot of issues tend to boil down to the question of what our government's responsibilities are.

Now, Social Conservatives have become a prominent force in politics, and that has changed everything. Historically, evangelical Christians did not involve themselves much in anything beyond their local politics, but over the last 20 or 30 years they have come out as a voting bloc, and were courted by the Republicans. This is what drove me out of the party, to be frank. I can't imagine anything less "small government" that the state telling me what I can and can't do with my uterus. And it got to a point where you had to go along with those ideas in order to get anywhere within the party (I campaigned for a governor and eventual cabinet member in my state that I know for a fact was pro-choice and did not believe abortion should be an issue for government to deal with. He never brought it up himself, but if he was brought a bill to sign that made more restrictions, he signed it.)

Anyway, I think this is what has really polarized people the most. Suddenly religion and all its moral judgments has been brought in to the process, and people feel more free to believe you are "good" or "bad" based on party preference. I think there are a lot of Republicans who don't necessarily agree with the social conservatives (my father is one) but don't disagree strongly enough that they are willing to lose the votes they bring. Then they elected one, and you were either with him or you weren't. McCain has been seen as a "maverick" because he was one of the few who wasn't interested in pandering to that part of the party, and it's why it is so disappointing to so many people to see him doing so now. Obama is, in my opinion, so refreshing because he also doesn't seem interested in arguing about things like who wears a flag pin and instead wants to talk about substantial issues, after 8 years of a president who is clearly not intellectually curious and appears more interested in how things look than how they really are. I think people who support him feel that he is much more likely to actually listen to all sides and only then make a decision, which is clearly not the way the current administration works. Those of us who disagree with Bush feel like we just aren't being heard, like nobody cares at all what we think, even though we represented nearly half the country in 2004, but we feel like Obama does.

What RainbowW said. Times 1000.

As an American, it is hard to support someone (Obama) with so many questionable issues. He has muslim ties (whether anyone wants to discuss or not), was part of a very racist church organization (anti-American and Anti-white), has mob ties (one owns half of his house in Chicago), is part of the spending / earmarking issue in our budget system .....and the list goes on. But the real problem is that the media is so left-and biased that you wont hear most of the issues stemming from him. These people are so "for Obama" that they dont care what he says or does, they won't report it. On the other hand, Sarah Palin, just being nominated for VP has been torn to shreads. They question everything about her being a mother of 5, how can she do it? What a horrible mother! Shes a member of a different religion than the standard, so she must be evil...its so hypocritical, its pathetic. The real change that Obama will bring is the official destruction of the US economy. Why? Because someone has to pay for the programs he wants, and with his continued spending, in the end its going to be the taxpayer. Join the bandwagon if you want, but I prefer to stand back and watch the trainwreck from afar. I will not be voting for Obama and dooming our country for higher taxes, healthcare i dont decide on my own, higher prices for products, and a defenseless border.

Some people need to check their facts.

Dear Beth,

factcheck.org might help you.

Beth, you sound like a FOX "FAIR & BALANCED" television watcher. They have a direct line to the Whitehouse and will try & spin things so much that the shows should be upside down.

So many other people here sound like they got their rhetoric straight from MSNBC, Rachel Maddow & Keith Olbermann...a tv station that decided they'd take the Fox News approach and just be the democrat station.

So many people just don't have the facts right. They choose to listen to O'Reilly, Olbermann and it's SCARY. For this election we need to have the facts straight. Not with our television commentator's opinions mixed in.

http://www.obama-mccain.info/index-obama-mccain.php

Yeah, our politics are more than a little out of control. But: Palin is not managing to convince me that she's not horrible - nor are the Republicans. I am already a staunch Democrat (love the Green Party; don't think they have a snowball's chance of getting anywhere on the national level right now) and an Obama supporter, so admittedly I'm biased, but I somewhat admired McCain before this election cycle. Not anymore. And when I watched part of the Republican National Convention and watched them say "community organizer" in such sneering tones (both Guliani and Palin did this) I was furious. They seem to strongly dislike the idea of anybody actually helping people who need it. And that's my whole problem with the Republicans. Not that Democrats don't say mean, hateful things too sometimes, but it's not their official, sanctioned position.

I like Obama because he doesn't seem doctrinaire to me. Despite McCain's attempts to paint him as "the most liberal senator" he is actually quite moderate, willing to study a problem thoroughly, and able to compromise. That would be a nice change! To me, the younger man in the race is more of a true "grown-up" than the elder... anyway, enough of my rantings. Interesting to see how the outside world views us!

p.s. a friend of mine from Durban got her citizenship a couple years ago - this is her first election she gets to vote in, AND she's driving to our neighboring swing state to volunteer for Obama!

Although I am a serious happy clapping Christian I would not vote Republican if I was American. I think the religious right in America do way too much damage to Christianity world wide. I have to admit I think Obama is seriously sexy but even if he wasn't, I would still vote Democratic Party over Republican. I think you guys are very fortunate to even have a real say and a country that runs the way it does. I did a post on SA Politics today www.bosombuddies.typepad.com and our politics are just depressing!

Haven't yet read all the comments but I was so excited to see you blogging about American politics that I just had to comment.
Go Obama!
You are absolutely right that people are almost worshiping Obama. However, you have to understand this in view of our recent political history, and this horrible Bush regime that got us into a horrible war that's been costly in more ways than I can count. I always tell people I like the idea of Obama more than I like Obama. He is just a man and if he becomes president (I hope) I am sure he will disappoint us in some ways. That said, I really think this is the time that we need a president of color, and I love that his middle name is Hussein. After having an upper class white wasp president who goes to war against the "infidels," electing Obama would be a powerful and an important signal to the rest of the world. I want the rest of the world to know that we are not entirely a country of Bush supporters and that we are ready to throw out the bastards!
As for Palin, you have to understand that most of the criticism she has brought upon herself. She repeatedly lies, takes credit for things she didn't do, and if you happened to catch her speech at the Republican convention, you'll see that she gives as good as she gets. Her attacks are quite vicious.
Anyway, thanks for posting about this and I look forward to reading the other comments!
GOBAMA!

I know very little of American politics, just trying to keep my head above water with SA politics. I think that fans of Jacob Zuma swoon over him too, I just wish his supporters would remember all the crazy things he has done, its really not acceptable....

And, may I just add that I am perplexed by all those people who characterize the Republicans as the party that favors small government? Huh????? That is such an old, tired and inaccurate line. They are teh party that got us into this horribly costly war, as well as the current banking bailout you're reading about. It is so frustrating. Democrats do favor healthcare for all and other programs to help the poor, but Republicans repeatedly spend more to help the rich and to take us to war.

WOW i'm only glancing quickly thru the comments and as i find pretty common any more, i'm in the minority. I am a Conservative. Therefore in most cases, i'm a Repbulican. I think us supporters of McCain/Palin tend to just hang out quitely, myself included. It's rather discouraging to see. Rather then risk that we may be cut down, attacked, etc we just sit low. But i am a proud supporter and for various reasons;)
Thanks for posting about our political system. It really is quite something.

I will admit that my political views tend to fall squarely within the Democratic Party, but I also know that I am "lucky" in that way, and I definitely have friends who believe in some of each party's views. For example, one of my close friends is completely liberal with social issues(pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-sex education in the classroom, etc.) but is very fiscally conservative and historically, the Republican Party is known for being more "market-driven" and has lower government spending (except for military spending). But, given the past 8 years, a lot of those delineations no longer hold true. Clinton, our last Dem president, gave us a national budget surplus, and under our current (Republican) president, we have descended into an enormous debt.

So, long story short, if you are an "Indepdendent" in this country, you have to resort to choosing what you view as the lesser of two evils come national election time. The last poll I saw suggested that 22% of the American voting public is still "undecided," which should tell you something.

Re Obama: I think because Bush is such a complete idiot (I'm sorry, but I am not going to soften that term because I believe it is true), Americans (and especially Democrats) are very excited about the possibility of having a smart president again. Also, because Obama is an African-American, this is a culturally "groundbreaking" presidential campaign here. On the other side, McCain has always been very "centrist" in a lot of his views and has often voted against the Republican party during his time as a Senator, so there's not a lot of support for him on the "far Right" (conservative) side. That's why a lot of us think McCain picked Sarah Palin, because she is much more conservative than he is in a lot of ways and she got the Republican "base" excited in a way that McCain could not do on his own. Unfortunately, in order to win the election, McCain also has to win over the more moderate "independents," and I think his choice of Palin has scared a lot of those voters away.

But, we'll see! Election time is fun here in the U.S., but also extremely stressful. In many ways, I cannot WAIT until it is over.

I'm also a registered independent. I've voted for both Republicans and Democrats, depending on the position, the candidate, and their stance on the issues that are most important to me. No one candidate can satisfy everything and it is unfortunate that we have only two major parties. There are others, but they never make it past the primaries.

Personally, I do not dislike Palin, but I am offended by the notion that women will vote for a woman simply because she's a woman. I'm also peeved that they keep saying she's broken the glass ceiling. Bullshit. McCain-Palin have yet to be elected and she'd still be only VICE president.

I tried so hard not to come back to this! I really did.

The responses here are like what I've read so many other places. Comparing Obama and Palin. She's running for VP! Not president. It's driving me nuts to be honest. If Bobby Bowden can still coach college football at 78, we don't need to worry about McCain's age.

I'll vote for 2 God-fearing people to hold the offices any day over someone who sat in a hate filled church for 20 years and only left after the public started screaming.

You, my dear, are incredibly astute.
AND
gorgeous and divine.

Tertia - I'm always curious what other countries think of the process.

Stefanie - McCain has outlived his ENTIRE male lineage. All the men in his family are dead by his age, and he wouldn't let the media look at his medical records. Not exactly encouraging. And you should do some research on Black churches in general before you call one "hate-filled".

As an Australian, my knowledge of the US political system is limited. But I am at a complete loss to understand Obama's popularity. I get a creepy feeling listening to him talk, as if he feels he has been chosen by God. Maybe I am missing something, but I have never heard him say anything which struck a chord with me, and I have grave fears about his ability to deal with any sort of international crisis. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are probably many people who would like to see a black man elected, and will do so in an attempt to prove to the world that America is not racist. I saw people interviewed in the primaries who quite openly said they voded for him because he was black. Now, if you said that you voted for McCain because he was white, wouldn't that be unbelievably racist? So, whats the difference? I don't know whether I would be a Repulbican or a Democrat if I was American, and by the way, why is abortion such a major issue in every American election? I don't agree with Sara Palin on this, in extreme cases, but lets face it, it is now not much more than an accepted form of birth control, which I don't agree with either. But if she believes 'not at all', then why can't she openly state that? If she didn't, she would be lying, and isn't that worse? issues, issues, issues.....

I did not read all the comments yet, so maybe this has been addressed. You can register as one of the two parties you mention, or as Libertarian, or as Independent, or as undecided. You do not have to pick a party, but in selecting one you are able to vote in that party's primaries. So If I were a Republican, I'd'vs been able to select (or not) McCain to be my candidate.

I have no registered affiliation because I'm conservative economically and liberal socially. I don't want big gov, but if we must have our money taken away, I'd rather it be spent for social rather than war programs.

"I'll vote for 2 God-fearing people to hold the offices any day over someone who sat in a hate filled church for 20 years and only left after the public started screaming."

Stephanie, are you sure you want to go down that road? The hate-filled church road? Sarah Palin's pastor believes that the Palestinian attacks on Israel are "God's judgement." I don't see how criticizing a government even COMPARES to this pastor's anti-semitism. Think I'm making it up? Watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqMCvq26d2M&feature=related

Also, aren't wolves God's creatures as well? Is it God's will that Sarah support aerial hunting of wolves and bears? Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T85cOGc8L0&NR=1

Your definition of hate-filled fascinates me. Seriously.

I'm as pro-choice as you can be but I take exception to the comment: "Sarah Palin: thinks abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest." If you are pro-life, shouldn't you be pro-life to all fetuses, even those that were conceived this way? Are some lives more precious than others? I find her politics and positions reprehensible, yet at least she is consistent with this point.

Eeek - I just supported a candidate I despise. Looking on from Canada, we hope Obama wins. Boy has Bush/current Republican administration screwed that country up.

okay, see, tertia, mel has proved to me right there she's *not* a bible-thumping jesus freak who was brain-damaged at rebirth (like, for example, george bush or sarah palin). she understands that her faith doesn't belong in government, at least not the way it's practiced here in the united states. so that means to me, what she does from a religious perspective is her business and her problem, and i have no further truck with it. :-)

the palin/biden debate is thursday. it's common for vice-presidential candidates to play attack dog, but biden won't have to do that here. he just to show up and not say much, and stand back and let palin self-destruct in a babble of incoherent ignorance. should be entertaining.

oh. and it's gratifying to know i'm not the only person here who agrees with me.

"a bible-thumping jesus freak who was brain-damaged at rebirth"

Ouch. Just...ouch.

I wasn't talking about all black churches just the one Obama was a member of. The sermons that were shown on the tv and internet were hate-filled. NO ONE would sit in a church for 20 years and listen to that unless they believe it.

How do you not expect people to base their views on their faith? Are they just suppose to go against what they believe to be right? Wouldn't that be hypocritical?

What you said is very much true for the majority of the country. However, especially with this election there is also a very strong undecided vote this time - more than I remember in the past. But I think that has to do with me being part of the undecided vote. There are a lot of us that may identify with a certain party - for me Democrat - but as you mention there's so many issues that you may not always agree with your party on everything. And it's those issues that you may not agree with that make you think if you like the candidate on the other side. And I'm not crazy about all the attention on Palin. I'd rather them focus on the issues and who stands for what than writing about whether or not she can handle the job and have children, including a special needs child. I mean my goodness how many of us juggle our jobs, volunteer work, etc. and raising our children! I don't think that's a reason for her not to be qualified.

Stefanie - that was one incendiary speech. And I suspect you only saw excerpts from it. And it wasn't wholly different from the content of many Black churches, who unsurprisingly sometimes have a condemning oratory style towards a nation that enslaved them for 200 years and hasn't gotten all that much better for many dark-skinned people. Read the whole thing. And do some research on the 'god-fearing' Sarah Palin's church and her literally witch-hunting pastor.

meme - I've watched and read and am really sick of it all. It wasn't just one sermon. I understand the issue but as you said it was 200 years ago. My worry is IF Obama feels the same way what does that do for the rest of us if he is elected? It doesn't seem very peaceful.

I don't agree with Palin's pastor on the Palistine comments. My point was she stands by her beliefs, which to me is important. It would be hypocritical to do otherwise.

As a conservative, I feel safest to stay quiet. It is very obvious how polarized people feel. I wish people could express their opinions without being so hateful...but I'm going to have to keep on wishing.

I have always voted republican. And I'm guessing I always will. Unless the two party system changes. Fiscally, I think the foundations of the republican party are in line with what I believe. However, the way things have been run have not proven that.

I do not think it is up to the government to support its people. Help them out when in need? Yes. But constant handouts? NO. A resounding no. That is up to us, as citizens and private organizations.

That is basically why I vote republican... I am pro life, but believe it should be left to the states. I am also a Christian, but know many Christian democrats.

I don't love the nominee for the republican party, but definitely don't love the democratic nominee either! A great speaker isn't enough. Substance is a necessity.

Stefanie: " My worry is IF Obama feels the same way what does that do for the rest of us if he is elected? It doesn't seem very peaceful."

What do you think he's going to do? I am seriously asking, what on earth do you think he's going to do that 'doesn't seem very peaceful'.

Tara: If you have any questions about Obama's substance, he lays ALL of them out in billions of pages on his website: www.barackobama.com/issues. You may not agree with them, but they are there. He is a brilliant speaker, but he is much more than that.

Beth, seriously, you need to go to factcheck.org. It sets the record straight about Obama and his "racist church" and "Muslim" ties:

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/sliming_obama.html

This also debunks his "mob" ties:

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/rezko_reality.html

If you're really interested in the truth, read this stuff. Otherwise, admit it; you're peddling lies just like Obama's opponent. Further, even if he were a Muslim, so what? Every American is entitled to worship as he/she pleases (or not!). Seriously? What is wrong with being Muslim? Think carefully before you answer that. Were you aware that Islam is the most widespread religion in the world, and that it long precedes Christianity?

Speaking of Christianity, how about a big standing ovation for Sister Mel. What a freakin' breath of fresh air! I've been saying for YEARS, that if I were a Christian, I would NEVER vote Republican because of what they've done to the religion. They've essentially co-opted it and made a divisive tool in order to get votes; this is about as UNChristian as it gets. How can you claim that your faith is so important to you, and then stand by while politicians drag it through the mud by making it the forefront of their campaign (see: Sarah Palin)? One of the most Christian people I know HATES the Republican party for this very reason. He was literally almost in tears back in 2004 when he heard that Bush won.

But I shouldn't be surprised. The concept of packaging up a turd and slapping the word "CHRISTIAN!" across it has earned its definitely earned its stripes, at least for the past 8 years.

after 8 years of bush, someone as articulate and seemingly human as obama really does start to look like the Second Coming.

that said, i'm not someone who believes he's a perfect totally righteous demigod. i just really really REALLY hope he's elected, because even if he accomplishes ONE of his ideas it will be an improvement, and because the alternative is frankly nightmarish.

Jacqueline,

Yes, I think most pro-lifers view all lives as equally important, but the vast majority of the accept that it is simply too much to ask the victim of rape or incest to carry a resulting child to term. The potential emotional damage is just too great. It is only the most vehement that oppose abortion in that circumstance, so Palin's views on it put her squarely in the realm of radical conservative and make her far to the right of even most of the republican core. That view, among so many others, is cited because it is usually one that make the moderates who unknowingly support her, stop and think a little. Do we really want a VP that would, if given the chance, outlaw abortion even in the case of rape?


I'm personally voting and campaigning for (and have donated to) fundamentally because of the sharp division in the positions and records of the two men----and I've done my homework on it.

We are in a situation we haven't come close to since WWII and the Great Depression, following the terrorist attacks on September 11th and due to the two wars we are engaged in. I believe our international position, and our security, has been jeopardized to an extant we will not truly recover for another generation, if that soon.

Our economic straits are vastly inferior to what they were 8 years ago, the last administration has instituted the greatest expansion (which sucks money like a vampire) since the 1930's.

These are just some of the reasons people are tremendously engaged in this election. Our personal well-being, our national security, our children's future and the fabric of the democratic republic are seen as being in jeopardy.

Having had a family member murdered in the World Trade Center that day, my primary concern is national security and our standing in the world, ie; do we have reliable and reasonable allies? When is the next attack coming and what horrible damage will that one cause? How can we be a part of de-escalating the problems all around us, as well as how can we make our corner of the planet safer?

I think the hero worship people describe is actually the zeal and the relief they feel at having an opportunity to take control of the future of the country, to be significant again, as they have not really been since the 18th century. It's much more a people's movement than true hero worship.

Don't forget, the last two elections were actually corrupted (primarily) by the electronic voting machines (owned by a proven Republican activist ) being programmed to delete Democrat's votes and to often replace them with votes for Bush. This is of course a very influential factor to people who, like a South African would understand, treasure the "One Human, One Vote" idea like a newborn baby.

As to the issue mentioned several times of registration being required----and it being an easy process to vote, not so fast. There are many forces (sadly, Republican again) whcih attempt to make it impossible to vote for qualified voters....including striking them off the lists for having names slightly similar to unqualified voters'.....done by a computer program of very dubious origin. The problems are manifold, but I've yammered too long. Forgive me......I just want so much for oour nation to be safe and a friend to other nations again, as much as possible.

Again, forgive.......typos above;
should read, "last administration has developed the greatest expansion of Federal government....."

and all other typos, too many to count, lol!

I'm sorry, but I forgot to address an issue of importance to me as a woman and mother:

It is of course consistent to oppose abortion, even if the conception was the result of an incestuous sexual assault (no, not unheard of)when one's postion is anti-choice. As in, no----you do not have a choice, you must have the baby.
It is however, very very troubling that Gov. Palin like many evangelical Christians, also opposes abortion even when the woman's life is at grave risk. Virtually all women would take incredible risk to her personal well-being rather than terminate a pregnancy she wants to continue; to remove that decision from the responsibility of medical professionals is just bizarre. It's also not, to my knowledge, supported by even biblical precedent, if that's what they want to go on.

Couple this with the fact that the Republican Party platform is strongly in favor of execution by state in criminal convictions of various kinds, depending on state and age of the convicted, leads to the charge of inconsistency. Either God is in charge of the decision, and his/her proxies, the State, influenced by one majority religious group (in a nation founded in large part on the premise of non-involvement of any religion on affairs of state) OR it is to be decided by rule of law, the interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, through their proxies including the Supreme Court or in some cases by the individual and physician.

A bit complicated, but that's one of the best reasons that the framers of the Constitution felt that it was in our nation's best interest to strictly separate the State and the Church.

I, for one, think that no male individual ought to have a deciding opinion or influence on the issue of abortion whatsoever.

Meme: I guess "substance" was a poor word choice. I don't think Obama brings enough to the table (experience, good ideas, etc...) to make a strong candidate in my opinion. And I'm going to venture to say that many people who "LOVE" him have based it off of just hearing him speak...and not off that website you linked or any true knowledge of his plans.

Morgan, you never mention the name of the candidate you're campaigning for, but as soon as you said "I've done my homework", it was obvious. Anyone who is thinking and is actually looking at the substance and NOT just sound bites and talking points can see which candidate is the best choice.

Thanks for doing the work (campaigning) that many of us would like, but don't have time to do. And I'm sorry you lost someone in the 9/11 attacks.

Unfortunately, based on what I've read above, and what I've read in the blogosphere, Americans (and I am one of them) generally seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the constitutional limits on presidential power. They buy all the hype -- McCain will overturn Roe v Wade (abortion case, and no, he can't do that); Obama will raise taxes (no, he can't do that); Palin would support a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortion (so? doesn't matter a whit, as it has no effect). The radio and television ads from both sides play into this lack of understanding.

I find it fascinating that everyone is so focused on lack of experience, but only on the Republican side of the ticket (Obama has no experience either, but he's at the top of the ticket while Palin is at the bottom). And, the attacks on Palin, before I even knew who she was, were unbelievably brutal. Apparently, feminist women only support other women who share their political views -- who knew! I always thought that the feminist camp was big enough to let everyone in. I was really surprised to see this.

But, all that aside, I have to give due respect to both sides. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have everything you say and do (and everything you've ever said and done) scrutinized so much. And in the end, it's really our congress who has most of the power, followed by the supreme court. The president is the least influential branch of government, but the office gets most of the focus.

Susy: So, I'm (along with approximately 50% of the US population) not "thinking"?

Tara, if you re-read what I said, you will note that I qualified the "thinking" part. I said "Anyone who is thinking AND is actually looking at the substance and NOT just sound bites and talking points can see which candidate is the best choice."

Judging by some of the comments I've seen on here about why certain people don't support Obama (e.g. He's a Muslim, he has terrorist ties, he didn't wear a flag pin on his lapel) I do have to conclude that there are a good number of people out there who aren't checking facts. That's not to say that there aren't credible arguments against both candidates; however, the fact that people are using blatant lies to back up their points tells me that they are getting their "news" from unreliable sources.

One the executive powers which has the most influence on our lives is the ability to appoint Federal judges, not just the Supreme Court Justices. They are then usually approved by the Congress.

The last senior Justice of the Supreme Court (William Rehnquist) had previously lived in my parents' neighborhood. He had been caught and legally punished twice for harrassing voters of minority races during elections....and even he was approved by Congress. Yes, he was a judge at the time!

These are the individuals and body which can overturn Roe v. Wade and turn the decision over to states, based on cases brought to them.

BTW----something which occurred to me since reading your post is that it probably appears to those outside our country that we "identify" with a political party or platform the way many nations' citizens do with footbal/soccer organizations! It's amazing how utterly stupid it makes us look.
At least----up till now----we do not tend to have the kind of riots and even killings at election sites as you occasionally see at matches. Really wouldn't suprise me, although it would depress the hell out of me, if that did happen this time.

I have ferociously biased members in my family, unwilling to look at the records and positions of both candidates out of an infantile stubbornness. There are far more crazy people out there, though....willing to do anything in the name of what they think is right, damn the laws and reason and the rights of others.

I meant to write in my initial post that I'm voting for the candidate that I am....but not a name. I would prefer to explain my reasoning process and priorities, rather than just identify the individual whom I think is the most likely to address what I find of greatest importance. It may suprise some people what some of the priorities are of a Democrat. Mine include security/defense, economics, international stature and strength, domestic fiscal responsibility and reduced Federal government.

I also did some Supreme Court studies in university and have kept up a small interest in that and in American history. It's very amusing that so many "Conservatives" ----of course, not all---are unknowingly at odds with the values and ideas of the framers of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, among some others, were of the same church as my family, one that firmly supports religious tolerance and separation of church and state ;)

And thank you for your kind words Susy, on the death of wonderful person on that wretched day. His loss (like so many families') is still impacting people I really love.

Whoops----forgot to address something a fellow "Midlife Mommy" wrote.

You're really, really off base about Feminism and Governor Palin: the Feminist platform is not about "Any Woman Will Do".

It has to do with the RIGHTS and interests of women (and children); from what many see from Gov. Palin's stated beliefs, values, political views and record, these are in conflict with the platform of Feminism.

Many women see her nomination, for many reasons, as an absolute insult to our values and intelligence. I know a great deal about her record, as Mayor of a village in Alaska as well as Governor. She and her record should be addressed exactly the way a male candidate of the same views and record ought to be. That's what I do. People are overwhelmingly addressing her views, her record, her political scandals and connections, as well as the way she has presented herself. She left herself wide open.

Morgan, I totally agree with what you say about Palin/feminism. Further, I want to address the experience factor mentioned by midlife mommy (I'm one of those too--we're ruling the world!!). I see your point about people being willing to attack Palin for her inexperience when Obama's inexperience is arguably comparable. Futher, she's not running for president, Obama is.

The point of Obama's lack of experience. specifically with respect to foreign policy, is well taken. It is a point against him. However, I'm less inclined to be worried about it because I think he makes up for it in other ways. Further, some of my concern about it is eased in the fact that he selected Biden as a running mate. Now, I have issues with Biden as well, but having him on the ticket helps. I'm not touching everything here by a longshot, but this is some of it.

With Palin, it's not so much her inexperience that worries me. It's more her seeming inability to think on her feet and respond intelligently to valid questions. For example, citing her proximity to Russia and the Canadian border as "foreign policy experience"--this tells me she doesn't take the question seriously. That's the overall feeling I get, is that she's intelligent and capable in many ways but when backed in a corner she acts like you have no right to question her. She would have done better to acknowledge her lack of experience then say that her running mate is very strong in that area and that they would work as a team, for example.

Yes, I see the point about concerns vis a vis foreign policy on the side of the Republicans. Funny they didn't have the same concern both times G.W. Bush was running :/

The difference is, Senator Obama is off-the-charts smart. He seems recognize long-range better ideas v. poor ideas, i.e., what is in the interests of our country and our interactions in the world v. what has alienated the majority of the rest of the world (jeopardizing our security) beginning when the current administration first began the pre-emptive war in Iraq, which has so far cost us (purely in dollar debt) $300 billion.

Additionally, his approach to diplomacy is what has shown to be effective, not just attention-getting: directly engage non-allies; if they are intractible, we then have greater persuasion with allies, to force certain nations' leaders to back down or to cooperate with a majority of other nations' standards (North Korea, Iran, etc).

But as to Tertia's specific questions about why we're so fanatical and run around keening and howling the way some of us do.....European friends have described to me how much MORE involved they are, hold parades and rallies and so forth.
We're more likely to try to censor our opponent's voters by removing their campaign yard signs and breaking their house windows, damaging their cars (with the "wrong" candidate's bumper sticker), aggressively verbally attacking them and scaring them when they wear the "wrong" candidate's t-shirt.
The above are things 5 people dscribed experiencing to me, just today, due to passively showing their support for the Democratic candidate.

Tertia-----it's true: some of us are bananas; I'm sorry for too much rhetoric!

Just to lighten things up a little--------this had me wetting my pants at the second paragraph:

www.newyorker.com
go to Humor
go to George Saunders, "My Gal"

Susy: I did read what you said. And re-read. And re-read.

"Tara, if you re-read what I said, you will note that I qualified the "thinking" part. I said "Anyone who is thinking AND is actually looking at the substance and NOT just sound bites and talking points can see which candidate is the best choice."

So, I'm "thinking" I'm "looking at substance" and I'm "not just (looking at) talking points" and I still don't agree with you on the candidate who is the best choice. So...? I'm either not thinking or a liar.

As for the original post, one party does NOT represent me, but I have to choose the party that BEST represents me. Fiscally, I am conservative. I feel safest (monetarily and militarily) with a fiscally conservative president. I'm more socially liberal (aside from being pro life, I suppose). Bush didn't get roe v. wade overturned, so why are people so concerned about another conservative in office doing the same?

As for the implication (by commenters) that republicans are the only ones dragging this election into the mud, well that is laughable.

Susy, I have some networking info you may be interested in; you can ask Tertia for my email.

Tara, I can understand why you'd feel offended by some of the comments that are being thrown around in the news and everyday speech/blogs. I respect your right to support a platform for pro-life issues, no matter how much I feel that no one but I can or has the true "right" to make the same decision FOR me which you would, for yourself.

Many, many people I've talked with who've said kind of similar things as you have don't have any substance or facts to explain what they mean, such as tax or economy or national security information, to differentiate between candidates. I've also heard this from other people. Many of us are just going on how we feel in a pretty superficial way, instead of going to candidates' websites to really know what the details are. It's making people mad.

morgan faulkner: I think you've misunderstood at least part of what I said. I AM "pro-life", but that is not at all why I am voting conservative. I vote conservative for fiscal reasons. Because I don't choose to list my entire belief system of taxes, etc. doesn't mean I'm not informed or that I'm making accusations without cause or proof. I was just trying to state why I vote the way I vote listing the basic reasons. Isn't that what Tertia asked?

Susy,

I am also voting for Obama, and I could care less what religion a candidate follows as long as they don't try to push it on the rest of us, but I have to correct you on one point: Islam, as a religion, is younger than Christianity. In order from oldest to youngest for the world's major monotheistic religions, it goes: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. HOWEVER, as with ALL religions, what we think of as being "Islamic" tenets actually are grounded in the culture of the middle east. That is why, if you take a hard look at uber-conservative Muslims and uber-conservative Jews in the Middle East, they look very much alike in terms of their daily culture--it's just the theology that differs. Similarly, people of the "same" religion in different countries often approach their practices very differently. American Catholicism, for the most part, is more liberal than its European counterpart.

I have to correct midlife mommy on a couple of points, because she has her facts wrong. First: No, John McCain cannot personally overturn Roe, but he can appoint Supreme Court Justices who will. The congressional approval process for justices is a joke, and after Bork, everyone knows how to be vague enough to pass muster. I mean, a Democratic Congress confirmed Thomas, a man who was utterly unqualified to serve on the Court (even if you completely ignore the Anita Hill thing, which was just a distraction from the real issue of his incompetence).

So the President absolutely has a ton of power in judicial appointments, for the Supreme Court and for all the federal courts. In point of fact, though, there is already a majority of justices who would probably be willing to overturn Roe -- Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy. The latter is not confirmed, and he has written in defense of Roe in past opinions, but considering his written opinions in both of the late-term abortion cases, last year and in 2000, it seems entirely likely that he would now vote to overturn it. If the South Dakota abortion ban passes, that case will begin working its way up. So in a very real way, the next President WILL have the power to determine the future not just of Roe, but of many, many issues on which the Court is out of step with the majority of the American people.

Second, on the power of the American Presidency, where you say that the president is the least influential branch of government, you could not be more wrong. The Founding Fathers did design our system so that the legislative body would have the most power because they were (having come from a monarchy) understandably worried about the concentration of too much power in one individual. However, in the late 20th century in particular, the American presidency has consolidated enormous power, and no administration exemplifies this trend more than W's. The Bush power grab has been unprecedented. So I don't think any political scientist would agree with you that, in the year 2008, the presidency is the least influential branch of government.

I was not over the moon about Obama during the primary, but supported him because I believed he had the best chance of winning in November. However, I have been very impressed with him during this campaign. I love that he is unflappable, calm, reasonable, and in control, not to mention intelligent (won't that be a change), articulate, and in my opinion, sincere about what he is saying. His "lack of experience" does not concern me because he has excellent judgment, a deep and broad knowledge base, and the wisdom to listen to the advisors he will select to assist him. As for the rock star thing -- I think that's a media construct. They haven't seen people truly enthusiastic about a candidate in a while and don't know what to make of it.

Damn, girl, you made me spit out my drink. You are SOOOOOOOOOO spot-on about both sides! As if one political candidate could fix the mess this country has become. PUH-LEASE!

I know I'm a little late on this, but I have a question for everyone who has commented here. Well, actually, for the conservative/pro-lifers.

So, if you vote Republican based on pro-life issues, it's because you believe a baby is a baby at any stage, right? (I should add that I agree with that view point.) BUT- here's the thing. Abortion being legal or illegal probably isn't going to change women having abortions. And most importantly, it isn't going to change their hearts. To me, telling a woman it is illegal to have an abortion is no different than telling someone the legally MUST become a Christian. Sure, you are outwardly making them comply with your viewpoints, but isn't a person's heart what counts? I just don't understand why abortion has to be the key issue. Voting for someone who is pro-choice doesn't make you okay with abortion, but voting for someone who is pro-life is not going to magically change the state or our world. God gave each person a choice, a free-will, and I believe that should include any and everything. I don't believe it is the government's job to regulate what choices we are allowed to make.

To add to what Kelli said...Making abortion illegal doesn't mean it won't happen. It will happen. It will just fall into the hands of "black market" doctors. Either that, or women will travel to states that don't have an abortion ban. Either way, abortion will not stop just because you make it illegal.

It's worth pointing out that the U.S. isn't actually a democracy. Even though our leader likes to tout it as such and (ahem) spread (ahem) democracy in our name. In my opinion we could use a real democracy in the States.

this is so interesting and i've read every single comment! i think that US politics is a circus, how much money is wasted in the process, it's ridiculous!

very good post Tertia!
proudly south african :)~

Very late to this. Just wanted to say two things. One, as to the party. I identify as a Democrat, and I think that the Democratic party is far more cohesive now than the Republican one. This is because the Democratic party can be said to have a guiding philosophy-- we are in this together, or I am my brother's keeper. Thus, we are for universal health care, and for raising minimum wage, and for being responsible with military power (i.e. don't send our troops to die unless there is a very very very good reason), and mostly pro-choice (and pro-life Democrats usually have a philosophy of reducing abortions through improving social safety net, which I am all for).
Contrast that to Republicans now-- all torn up in their corners. Fiscal conservatives vs. religious fundamentalists vs. neocons vs. this vs. that. It's tough to be a Republican these days.

Point the second-- Sarah Palin is acting like a vicious attack dog these days, spreading lies and hatred. I have no pity left for her.

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