Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Political Confession

I helped elect Richard Nixon in 1968, and with that helped to introduce the republican hegemony that has ruled this country most of my adult life.

Notice I do not say that I voted for Nixon, for I did not.

Many thousands of my peers that year voted for no one. I couldn’t do that, so I did the next worst thing and voted for Gene McCarthy. There: that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever actually said for whom I voted.

People forget or don’t know that George Wallace ran a potent third-party conservative candidacy that year. It was an election that Nixon should not have won. But no: we couldn’t pull together. We cast quixotic votes or stayed home.

Just as the shadow of my modest involvement with the war of that time has cast a shadow over my entire life, so I’ve never forgotten my foolish idealism and its aftermath.

So yes, Clinton supporters. Have your vent, but remember 1968. Consider too that your candidate may have received tens of thousands of votes from people who were registered Democrats for the sole purpose of being spoilers. That's a twisted sort of sexism that the pundits don't seem to address. Only a friend, a recent dweller in West Virginia and not exactly a progressive, would put it into words for me: "most of those people would rather die than vote for either a woman or a black man for president."

I do think Hillary Clinton has advanced womens' opportunities in presidential politics to an unprecedented level, but my inner realist asks Charlie Brown questions: "how many of those votes were sincere votes?"

People more than one degree left of centre have an option, right here, right now.The reactionary hegemony can end now, this year. If it does, it will end for perhaps two generations, far into a changed world in which the politics of hate, fear and division have no further value. Or the hegemony can win another election it should have lost whilst Democrats exercised their penchant for the politics of self-absorption, and perhaps after that there will be no more progressive politics in this country.

Don’t make your decision in righteous anger, but in the cold blood of realpolitik. Whatever you choose, you’ll be living with that choice the rest of your life.

I loved ya, Gene...but in November, I should have held my nose and voted for Humphrey.

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