Wednesday, November 07, 2012

On Being Left of Obama

In the last few years, I've been working on compassion for self and others. I'm pretty good naturally at empathy for certain folks--underdogs, folks who are oppressed in various ways, people in my near and immediate circles who I care deeply about. I do struggle with developing compassion for my self, and for folks who have what I perceive as Very Different world views. On some level, I just can't wrap my mind around certain types of beliefs in any kind of deep way. For instance, I "get" on some level why folks are homophobic--some folks are in the closet themselves, some folks are afraid of anything they perceive as different, some folks feel  comfortable moralizing about certain facets of our lives. But on a deeper level, I just don't get it--I feel like if folks could just hang out with queer people a bit more, if they could more easily recognize that lots of us are on various continua when it comes to sexuality, if they could just learn about other folks, that they'd come around. I feel this even though I suspect deeply that it's not true, that the fear and ignorance and anger and all of that are sometimes so deeply ingrained that there simply can't be room for change.

Similarly, it's tough for me to "get" folks who are Republicans. Sure, sure, there are "fiscal conservatives", but I don't really get them either, on any deep level. 

Now here's my dirty-little-not-so-secret:  I feel the same way about folks who are gung-ho about Obama. Sure, I get how amazing it is to have a smart person as prez. I get the importance of the first African-American prez. And I get that there are all kinds of good things that he's helped happen--things I totally support like ditching DADT, universal health care (sort of), working with diplomacy and not just with weapons on international issues...it's not a short list!  But that doesn't make me want to rally behind the guy, since he's also the guy who has authorized the murder of 3,000 people through drone attacks in Pakistan since he's been prez. Just as one example. And Pakistan is a country that we're *not* at war with!

I'm not advocating the idea that "there's no difference" between Dems and Repubs. I recognize and applaud that some folks (including me!) are much better off with Obama as prez versus Romney (or, heaven forbid, Ryan).  I just have some deal breakers regarding fully supporting a politician, and Obama runs up against lots of them. State-sponsored assassination.  Unwavering support of what seems like terrorism to me (buckets of money for Israel, without any real concessions regarding the occupied territories).  Look, dude said he would "take early action" to close Guantanamo Bay back in 2008. "Early" has come and gone. We have more invasive surveillance of citizens under the Obama administration than under Bush Jr.! (www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/new-justice-department-documents-show-huge-increase)  This ain't nitpicking.

So, little help here--what is it that allows others to downplay or ignore these faults?  What I don't "get" is why these aren't deal-breakers for other folks, when other things (Romney-ish things) are deal-breakers?  Hating on gay folks (the way Romney does) is horrible. Hating on women (the way many Republicans do) who want abortions is horrible. But hating on Pakistanis is also horrible. Imprisoning folks without a trial in Guantanamo is also horrible.  Why do some of these horrible things matter to people, while other of these horrible things matter so little that folks can clap and smile and cheer Obama on? 

Just. Don't. Get. It.

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