Sitting out the conventions
© by Barbara Anderson
The Salem News
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I feel like
a political orphan this week.
In 30 years of political activism, I have never been to a national
convention — and have no desire to be in either Colorado or Minneapolis
this year either. The partisan scene has never appealed to me.
I am glad it appeals to others, since our democracy depends on the
partisan activists we see waving banners and cheering for their
candidates. For people more sociable than I, it must be fun to be part
of the crowd in the convention hall when history is being made. I do
watch the conventions on television, remember watching with my parents
when John Kennedy was nominated. Even have a vague memory of seeing
Adlai Stevenson speak, though I'm not sure we even had a television
then; could have been a newscast at the movie theater before the feature
So there I was on opening night, Democrat Convention 2008, with my bowl
of microwave popcorn, watching speeches by Ted Kennedy and Michelle
Obama. I thought Sen. Kennedy looked very well; those who talked about
him as a dying man may be wrong, with cancer having become more
successfully treatable than many people realize. It crossed my mind that
the failure of his battle for socialized medicine may be saving his
life. Funny how things work out.
I also thought Michelle Obama did well - in fact, she sounded like a
presidential candidate herself. Had this feeling that we've been down
this road before, with a president's wife who thought she'd been
co-elected, and it wasn't a pleasant trip. On the other hand, a lot of
people like me are rooting for Hillary right now. Funny how things work
Still, I think the Republican spokesmen seem too cute in their expressed
sympathy for Hillary Clinton; all observers know that they are trying to
permanently separate Democratic women voters from Obama, which is a
worthy goal but the method could backfire. Let Democrat women decide for
themselves how partisan they are going to be on Election Day if they
think their party's nominee is clearly less qualified for the job than
either their preferred candidate or the Republican.
I didn't buy for a second that Michelle Obama is actually proud of our
country for the same reasons I am proud of it. But we could admit that
many people on both sides of the spectrum feel that American has been
heading in the wrong direction, though the directions they deplore are
opposite. Liberals are disappointed that we don't have socialized
medicine, higher taxes, open borders and peace at any price, while
people like me wish for a balanced budget, sensible immigration laws,
and more Americans on the curb watching Memorial Day parades, hands on
their hearts as the flag passes by.
I've always kind of liked Joe Biden, but I realized this is simply the
longing so many of us have for a politician who says what he really
thinks instead of blahblahtalkingpointsblah; though I mostly don't agree
with what he really thinks. It's interesting that Barack Obama, who
pauses before saying "good morning" for fear it might offend some voter
somewhere, is now teamed with a man who blurts.
Joe Biden is my age, so his presence also cancels Democrat arguments
that John McCain is too old. McCain wasn't my first choice, but he does
also tend to say what he thinks instead of blahblahtalkingpointsblah, so
I kind of like him too. Eager to see who he chooses as his running mate.
Eager, yes. I may be a political orphan, without a parent party, but I
am part of the extended political family of people who pay attention to
elections, choose their candidates, and vote, as opposed to the pathetic
Of course there are other ways to be involved than working for
candidates and voting. In Massachusetts, people often collect signatures
on initiative petitions to create or repeal laws, and usually I applaud
this exercise in pure democracy.
However, I'm not applauding the referendum, filed this week by
MassResistance, to repeal the new law that lets homosexual partners from
other states marry here. I still don't get why gay activists wanted this
law so badly: when the newlyweds leave the commonwealth, they are no
longer legally wed in their own states, so what's the point?
Point or none, some anti-gay marriage activists are now planning to
collect signatures to repeal the new law; other "defense of marriage"
groups, to their credit, are letting this go.
By the time the repeal would get to the ballot, it would lose — just as
I am convinced the petition to repeal gay marriage for Massachusetts
would have lost if it had made it to the ballot. Voters here wouldn't
have actively created gay marriage, but I doubt they would have stopped
it once it began either. There are still many cultural battles to be
fought, and this is no longer one of them.
So, nothing political for me to do this weekend: no conventions to
attend, no petitions to sign. The hammock awaits...
Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her
column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune
newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in
the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.