Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can't we all just get along?

I know this blog is supposed to be on food. But anyone who knows me will understand that I have difficulty staying focused on one topic (hence why I had three thesis projects in grad school before one stuck, and why my writing is full of parenthetical asides). I cannot stop thinking about what has just happened in the US, and what this could mean for our country and the rest of the world. Yes, I know that I don't live there right now, but I still pay taxes, I don't want to trade in my American passport for an EU one, and I plan to move back (someday). And, as I note below, what happens in the US has real ramifications around the globe.

I'm not usually one to wear my political leanings on my sleeve. Although I almost always end up voting Democrat, I would describe myself as a moderate independent. I've always felt that I have the ability to see both sides of the story (maybe I should have been a diplomat). I suspect this has something to do with my upbringing in a very conservative location (Texas) where I went to church pretty much every Sunday, followed by my move to uber-liberal Boston where I became a scientist and spent most of my time with academics, who tend to be very left-leaning. People on both sides get so caught up in the back-and-forth political rhetoric that they can't see that the other side has some valid points. Or that even if you don't believe the points the other side is making, it's their right to believe what they do. That is the definition of American liberty: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom to believe what you want to believe, and freedom to be your own person.

Living abroad has made me realize how much the rest of the world cares about the US. I think a lot of people in the US don't appreciate this. The rest of the world really does like our country, even though they don't like Dubya or the war in Iraq, and they look to the US for leadership on global issues such as climate change, combating terrorism, and fighting AIDS and other preventable/treatable diseases in developing countries. They might blame us for problems (e.g. the economic crisis), but that doesn't mean they don't still like us and look up to us deep down (you know, kind of like when you were little and your younger sibling swore he hated you, but you knew he really looked up to you and watched and learned from everything you did). Yes, what happens in our country affects the rest of the world in ways most people, including me, can't imagine. There are just too many people outside the US who think that Americans, generally speaking, are stupid and selfish. While I know this of course isn't true, it's unfortunately how many countries perceive America and the leaders we have elected, and precisely why they have trouble seeing the US as a global leader, even though that's exactly what we are. Despite the old adage that it doesn't matter what people think of you, it DOES matter what other countries think about the US. I'm not saying that Obama will fix the US's reputation abroad, but I think he will give it his best shot.

I watched McCain's concession speech, and it was moving in a way I didn't think it would be. What really got me fired up were the boos during his speech when he mentioned Obama; those people need to learn from the man they supported. I am sad that McCain couldn't manage to run his campaign as a real independent. It's a shame that he had to pander to the religious right and the diehard conservative members of the Republican party, and that he couldn't go with someone like Joe Lieberman for his VP. I have said a million times over that I would have seriously thought about voting for McCain if he'd picked someone as VP that I felt was competent to lead the country (I'm convinced that his health isn't great and that, especially with the stress of being President, he wouldn't make it 4 more years), and not someone who would merely pull in the far-right voters, which is the only explanation I can come up with for why they went with Palin.

Just like the Dems have had to live with Dubya for 8 years, now the tables are turned, and we can learn a lot from both Obama's victory and McCain's concession speeches. We all need to stop threatening to move to other countries or quit our jobs and live off welfare because we're unhappy with what happened (throwing tantrums and making irrational threats is more suited to 4-year-olds than adults). We (Republicans and Democrats alike) need to stop booing everytime the opponent's name is mentioned, and come to grips with the reality that the only way to make this country a true world leader again is to stop being so petty and work together. I can only hope that Obama WILL 'reach across the aisle' and bring some moderate Republicans in as advisors or Cabinet members, that he will be true to his word that he is the President of all of us, no matter how we voted yesterday, and that he can heal a country that has been so bitterly divided, for the sake of the nation itself and the rest of the world.


Amanda said...

Well put. You know how I feel. I was for Obama, but I do feel for those whose candidate didn't win. I know how I felt in 2000 and 2004, and it wasn't fun. But I'm still here (just as those who lean the other way made it through the Clinton years). I hope that we can work together through the next 4 years. It was encouraging that the people in Grant Park cheered during McCain's concession speech (lots of comments that it was a very good speech, very classy), and cheered when Obama spoke of him last night.

Regardless of what happens, I think the next 4 years will prove to be very interesting.

Vickie said...

Thanks for a thoughtful essay Sarah. We can't cooperate until we know each other a little better, and that won't happen until we quit villifying each other.

Glad to find your blog by the way.

Kenna said...

I agree with your comments on McCain losing his identity. I feel he sold out to the RNC... it's a shame that the maverick was lost as a price to become the nominee... and he might have one if had really tried to be the person he truly is... someone much more moderate and much less confused. In wanting to win so badly, he forgot what he really believes in. At least that's how it seemed to me.

That said... we are all open to hyperbole I suppose when discussing politics. But I for one don't feel hopeful. The more I learn, the more I interact with people, the more I feel that we need to stop pandering to each other. We need to stop expecting something for nothing.

we have grown up as a generation that has seen more change, faster probably than most other generations. We are used to seeing things happen before our eyes... with very little input from us. We are used to everything being free and fast. We want it to be freer and faster.

To me, that's what I heard from Obama. To me, that's not a message of hope.

It's a message that breeds laziness. It's a message that makes people think that they will get their houses for free and their tanks filled up... as long as they vote for Obama.

Clearly, that is NOT what Obama said.

My fear, is that over and over, the people that he inspired so much, lost sight of his message of sacrifice and latched to his rhetoric of entitlement.

And so while I likely won't move out of the US (geesh, I won't even move out of DC), I am actually seriously considering no longer working depending on how the taxes come out. There really does come a time when you have to make a decision about how hard you are willing to work when you have to pay 2 daycare bills and a third bill to the government to support a welfare situation that requires nothing of the recipients.

I hope never to be on the end of needing one of those checks. As long as my husband or I work, we probably won't be. That said, there really does come a line where it is not worth working as hard as I do if I continue to bring home less and less. That is not childish. It's a reality.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful commentary. We miss you in Boston. You three would have been a deserving addition to our small Election Eve gathering.

I agree that McCain sold out. As many have said, if he'd taken the approach through the campaign that we heard in the concession speech, he'd have been a formidible foe. I personally would have been very enticed to vote for the 2000 version of McCain, but that wasn't an option this time around. A few weeks ago one of the Dem also-rans told us, off the record, that McCain told his handlers that he wanted to go with Lieberman or Ridge as VP. They told him those were not options, and they obviously prevailed.


Sean and Sarah Seton-Rogers said...

People do realize that the differences between 35% and 39% tax rate actually only amount to a few thousand dollar a year on a$100k salary?????? That would really stop someone from working? Really? Are you serious? Sean.

Anonymous said...

Sean, I found myself making the same argument to a "Joe the Plumber" type this week - similar to Joe in that she just didn't get how it would really affect her. "So for every extra million I make, I pay an incremental $40k for a balanced Supreme Court, maybe some gay rights, a bit less derision from around the globe, perhaps some stem cell research?... yeah, that's a good deal - I'll take two."

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Hello Sarah, I am hoping you get this as it doesn't look like you've posted on here for ages and I don't have an email address for you.

I'm pleased to let you know you won the Matcha Chocolate giveaway, if you email me back at sarah AT maisoncupcake DOT com with your address I can arrange for the prize to be despatched to you.

Regards, Sarah at Maison Cupcake blog

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Hello there, sadly as I've not heard from you in nearly a week I am going to have to redraw a new winner for the Matcha chocolate giveaway. Hope this hasn't been because you were away or something silly but I really need to let the Matcha guys know who to send it to now. Better luck next time!