Because I think this election is SO important, and because I am still on the voting fence, I gagged and tied myself up and forced me to watch most of both conventions.... with a little help from my DVR.
I've written about it so much it's completely redundant to say again, but here it is: I've never voted Republican before and many, although not all, of the planks of the Democratic platform resonate with my own values and those of my family background...
I've also been exposed to first-hand (not massaged by the mainstream media) Republican philosophy for the last few years. This exposure has been through lively discussion with a conservative friend whose intelligence and judgment I profoundly respect, and also by following a few well-researched, respectable and well-written conservative columns and blogs.
It's a fact, folks... all Republicans are not nutjobs, and valid, reasonable conservative viewpoints DO exist. There really are two sides to every issue, and both sides have merit if one is not deeply entrenched in partisan thinking.
I think I'm as objective about the two parties and their issues as anyone can be in this very partisan year. I'm also still very much in the "undecided" column about my November vote.
After all the balloons, confetti, placards, posters, banners, bullshit and empty words have been swept out of Denver & St. Paul, I'm left with a few confessions, impressions and conclusions.
This last Thursday night, at the close of Senator McCain's acceptance speech, was the first time in my memory that I have felt at all patriotic. (I've written about this weird deficit in my character previously, HERE.) I may have felt a twinge of something at JFK's funeral, another twinge at the first moon landing, spasms at the Challenger and WTC disasters... but had I owned a flag, I would have been waving it Thursday night.
With my girlie, estrogen-driven DNA, I have found every war (after WWII) incomprehensible and intrinsically barbaric and primitive, and so I've avoided almost all exposure to the many military actions of my lifetime. I despise the very nature of war and abhor everything connected to it. It therefore has always been a puzzle to me why the status of "military hero" would almost automatically mark a presidential candidate as "desirable"... but Thursday night, I finally got it.
It's not that every "decorated war hero" necessarily has the qualities -- whatever they may be -- to become an effective and powerful President. The heroic acts themselves are not the qualifying factors -- but the character formed and strengthened by the adversity, suffering, sacrifice and dedication to the ideal and reality of serving one's country absolutely is.
It's a truth of life that struggle makes us strong. The happy plateaus of our life are surely more pleasant and do give us breathing space to enjoy a little peace of mind and heart; but, it's from the depths of calamity and tragedy that we grow, that our character develops, that we emerge as a more mature, more complete person. In my opinion, the more we overcome, the stronger we become -- and the converse is true, too, (which worries me about the many ways our culture chooses to be "comfortable" rather than accept hard choices and hard consequences -- but that's another blog.)
Does my Oprah-esque epiphany, my ah ha! moment, mean that I'm voting for McCain and company now? Nope, not necessarily -- but it did give me an insight, at gut level, into the kind of character he possesses and what went into the formation of that character. The contrast with his opponent is obvious and almost painful.
I'm still stuck with the depressing opinion that we have three lightweight candidates and one man who may be too old to be effective. The parties' proposed solutions to our national concerns and issues seem to be more clearly defined this election, though, which may weigh heavier in my own decision than in previous years. Wouldn't it be peachy if the candidates could bring themselves to just tell us the plain, simple, unpackaged truth.... oops, sorry, I slipped into fantasy there for a moment.
Oh, before I leave -- I've been sent three different "letters" about Sarah Palin from three different sources, plus I've seen a couple on a blog or two. In case you're sent one of those from the vast "forward email hell" -- check out this link before you draw any conclusions about their validity: Letters from Alaska.