Monday, October 20, 2008

A Vote For Change

I have always been a bit of a pessimist when it came to politics. Being a political science/sociology major will likely do that to you. Compounded by the fact that my political development happened in a state were if you weren't voting Republican you may as well not show up. For awhile I certainly understood the expatriate movement and why some Americans felt the draw of greener pastures around the world. I still have my fair share of complaints about the U.S. and its position and direction in the world. I have come to see however that everyone in the world wants the U.S. to change, in a myriad of different ways. Only through remaining in the U.S. and being that voice for change can effective reforms be undertaken.

I often hear Americans and residents of other countries say that they didn't realize how good they have it at home until they go abroad. While I can empathize with this comment, it in no way informs my way of seeing the world. There are many good things about the U.S. that I appreciate. The reason I have chosen to remain in the U.S. for the forseeable future is to push for change. Leaving just because the times are bad is an injustice to those left behind. Those who believe that the U.S. can or should be better have the obligation to work toward that change. Only through a truly democratic movement will Americans become engaged and informed. The record numbers of people registering to vote is one sign of light in a very dark time.  We need to realize that democracy is not just voting. Democracy requires active engagement and only the people can keep government responsible.

I cast my absentee ballot today. When I cast the ballot I was reminded of a quote by RFK that informs the kind of communitarian democracy that I idealize:
“Each time a man stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

A vote for change is in the mail. Lets hope we get it right this time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The District Sleeps With Heather and I Tonight

We have been in D.C. a little over a week and things are going well. The jobs search is exciting and we have both found many interesting jobs to apply to. One job I applied to I heard back the same day, only to find out that even while requiring a Master's, the pay was only $35,000. Luckily, we aren't in a dire position and I can still hold off for pay more appropriate to my training and skills. Another job I heard back from was the Government Accountability Office, a job I applied to back in July. It looks like I will be interviewing sometime next week.

It is nice to be back in Washington. So far we have gone to many of my favorite parts of town and eaten at great restaurants. Sadly, one of my favorite restaurants, Hunan Chinatown, has closed down in my absence. The place where I saw the underhanded and unscrupulous Robert Novak. We also went by the area where I used to work on the Hill and walked the path that I took to work everyday. Walking past the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Capital all in the same span brings back good memories. The overwhelming scope of being in the political center of the world. I don't say statements like that lightly. Sometimes in D.C. you catch wind of the actual power of the process and it feels like looking straight down from the top of a skyscraper, scary and at the same time exhilarating.

It has been nice staying in a part of the greater D.C. area in which I haven't spent much time before. Maryland is much nicer than I had been led to believe in my previous stay here. Silver Spring is one possible community we could end up at. Seeing where our jobs are located and what our income looks like will help make the final decision of where we end up. However, currently there are some nice places off of Pentagon City (in Arlington, VA), that are offering some amazing deals. With things so rough for the market and people having less discretionary income, apartments are dropping prices and offering up to two free months of rent. Looks like a good time to be moving in.

I am really looking forward to our time here. We will likely be here for at least 5 years and possibly the rest of our careers. It feels odd to be so sure and at the same time at loose ends. Getting an apartment and jobs over the next few weeks will create a sense of permanence that is currently lacking from our lives.

The Straight Talk Express Is Off The Rails Again

I never realized the "Straight Talk Express" mantra of McCain included slander. After being clearly rebuffed on issues of importance like the economy, the McCain campaign has decided to fall back on the most deplorable and depressing of tactics. While I can't fault them for using every tactic available to them in such an historic election, I am extremely disappointed at this decision. The Washington Post recently reported that the McCain campaign will be focusing on personal attacks on Obama's character.

The opening salvo of this new course was Palin dragging out the tired old line of Obama being associated with terrorism because he happens to live in the same neighborhood as one of the founders of the Weather Underground. Real solid stuff guys. What's next, talking about how the name OBAMA rhymes with OSAMA? I mean seriously, is this the best that the McCain folks can come up with, ad hominem attacks that indicate nothing about Obama.

This new tactic is just another low point for one of the few senators, Republican or Democrat, that I truly respected. Pandering to the religious right, becoming the partisan he said he never would, and leaving behind the issues to instead make personal attacks. McCain's star has fallen quite far in the last six years for me. These actions are not the course of a "Maverick" but of a flailing politician behind in the polls. If you're going to lose, at least do so with some dignity.