"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


calm down, people

Lord of mercy, the internets are mad at me. I had no idea any of you cared so much about my personal political preferences. Is this what it's like to be a swing-state voter? I don't really feel like I need to justify myself (this is a silly blog that 200 people read, for goodness sakes), but I was trained in debate, so it's an instinct to respond.

Let's consider a few points:

  1. I am not a Democrat. I lean liberal, but I am a moderate, independent voter. I have never been a member of any political party, and I almost always vote a split ticket. I have never voted in a primary election, precisely because I don't want to be a member of a party. (There was a Texas Democrat bumper sticker on my car for a year or two, but that was primarily just to be obnoxious concerning the 2004 election.) The Republican party scares me, but the Democrats strike me as often irrational and a little bit silly. That I am even planning to vote in the primary this year is a big deal for me, because it means I have to commit to being on their mailing list for the next four years.
  2. I NEVER SAID that a high level of enthusiasm among young people about the campaign or candidates is a bad thing. Do not accuse me of that. I teach hundreds of apathetic college students about our government every year. I spent a significant percentage of class time trying to convince my students that voting is worth their trouble. I am not one to discount the importance of their involvement in the political process, and I am glad that a higher-than-average number of young adults seem to be interested this year.
  3. I also NEVER SAID that I would not support a candidate because he/she inspired young people.
  4. What I did say is that I do not like being accosted while I'm chatting with a friend. If I say, "no, thank-you" when someone offers me a flier, it means that I want to save a tree, or that I already know about the event in question, or that I'm doing something else at the moment. I do not appreciate being delivered long lectures on the subject of how my undecided status means that I'm not fully participating in democracy, or that not voting for Hillary is a betrayal of feminism, or that Obama is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ himself (or at least of Robert F. Kennedy).
  5. I know exactly what is at stake in this election, which is why I take this decision seriously.
  6. I do think Obama has good judgment on foreign affairs issues. And I appreciate Obama's work on the Congo legislation. But I also think there are some things that can only be learned through experience. And I don't want the office of the vice presidency continuing to be more active than it's supposed to be.
  7. As much as I think the Iraq war was a mistake (and it should be noted that, like Obama, I thought it was a mistake before it started), we're stuck there. That's why they call it a quagmire. Obama can't win the nomination without saying that he's going to get us out of there within sixteen months. I also think he knows that that it is virtually impossible for us to pull out in a responsible way. Iraq is not ready to govern itself because Iraq cannot secure its own territory. Setting a date for American troop withdrawal in late 2009 creates a classic exit dilemma. If we do that, extremists only have an incentive to stockpile weapons and wait for chaos to begin. Again, I think Obama knows this. The challenge of finding a way to exit the country that won't result in civil war and attempts at ethnic cleansing is immense. I want a candidate who will be honest about that challenge.
  8. I teach my students that nobody changes Washington. Any president who goes there with a promise of change learns very quickly that he or she is going to have to fight 535 other egotistical, power-hungry politicians to get anything done. The culture there is what it is. This is true by design. The founders set up our system to make it impossible for anybody to accomplish an agenda without considerable trouble. They wanted to encourage compromise, so they structured our government to force ambitious people to compete with one another. Because of that, no individual or group can really change the way things work in D.C. Believing this to be true does not make me cynical or lacking in hope. It makes me a realist.
  9. When I heard Obama speak at the DNC in 2004, I thought, "I'd like to vote for him someday." I really do like him. I would love to see an African-American become president. It would do so much to help our standing in the world, and it would show that the promise of America is open to everybody.
  10. I don't think that's enough of a reason to vote for anybody.

There. You can hate me if you want. The beauty of America is that we all get to think what we want to think and say what we want to say. Having lived in countries where that is not the case, I am profoundly grateful for the fact that we can disagree.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want me to divert some attention? I'll go over to my blog and admit I voted for Nader in 2000 AND 2004.

That tends to upset Democrats more than voting for Bush!

Sunday, February 24, 2008 5:06:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Lol! You're a true friend! :)

Sunday, February 24, 2008 5:31:00 PM

Blogger Roger said...

I don't believe anyone in the comments said anything about "hate" toward you or your column. Sorry you took it that way. But you put your thoughts out there and people just responded regarding THEIR choices. I'm sorry that one of my reasons is not good enough for you, but trust me, I was not trying to convince you of anything. I was simply reporting on one of the things that I find very convicing...the opportunity to heal the terrible racial wound in our country. But this has been something of a focus for me for almost thirty years.

I know you will vote from a very infored position, but don't be defensive about other people's opinions. And you really should re-read your comment about "the kids"...whether you meant it or not and whether they are obnoxious or not, it was a comment that could at least be taken as a putdown.

I would encourage you to read Frank Rich's editorial today about the implosion of the Clinton campaign compared to the solid organizing done by the Obama bunch. Not because I want to vote in any certain way...but since you are still making up your mind, you might find that information worthy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 7:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhhhhhhh, dangit! I thought we had one more vote for Obama in Texas! You are a hard vote to get. What is it going to take, what reason will be enough?

But this exchange has been illuminating. So many, including myself, have been seduced by the sweet talking Barack that it is good to see some resistance, some criticism, some "realism", some independent and singular thinking.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 9:15:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign the last comment, that was me, Carlos.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 9:18:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Roger, I'm not the least bit defensive about anybody else's opinions or reasons for voting. What I don't enjoy is being argued with about things I never said. And I don't think that anybody "hates" me at all, that was just some hyperbole. I (along with several friends) was just very surprised at the reactions that post produced.

Carlos, I know you've been with Obama from the get-go, and I think that's great. To be clear, I don't believe the perfect candidate exists. I'll make a decision here soon, and it will be for the person I think can do the best job with the mess that the Bush administration is leaving behind.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:52:00 PM

Blogger David McCullars said...

"And I don't want the office of the vice presidency continuing to be more active than it's supposed to be."

Now that's an interesting statement that warrants explanation. Founding fathers aside, the responsibilities of the White House have grown so immensely over the past 200+ years. Our choice is to keep increasing the number of non-elected aids (ahem Carl Rove ahem) to assist the President, or we can continue to increase the responsibilities of the elected VP (who can/should be impeached if necessary). I'm curious to see the error in my thinking here.

Monday, February 25, 2008 12:59:00 AM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

Your last paragraph should have a calming effect on all who reflect as they read. We do not live in a perfect country, but one of the best, if not the very best, in the world today.
Each person who learns, thinks, discusses, becomes informed, and then votes, insures that we will continue to be able to disagree. Because anyone who does the above will vote for the good of the country and not just their pet project(s).
Mac McFatter
lower Alabama

Monday, February 25, 2008 6:38:00 AM

Blogger euphrony said...

I won't tell you the number of Obama calls I gotten in the last week. Apparently, one of our neighbors is a big supported. In my memory, I've never received more than one campaign call in an election cycle - and never in a primary cysle.

Monday, February 25, 2008 9:06:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm true to my word - blogged it!

Monday, February 25, 2008 2:36:00 PM


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