A few days ago, Russell passed around this quote backstage (yes, T&S has a backstage–that’s where the permabloggers hang out, fight, and make fun of you):
From Leon Wieseltier, writing in The New Republic :
â€œI have not yet been asked for my vote by a candidate who represents the entirety of my convictions. I am not dismayed by this. Politics should not provide the most complete or the most profound of life’s satisfactions. Voting is not an expression of the soul. Anyway, my convictions do not add up. I like taxes and I like the military. (The only thing Obama said in any of those dreary debates that delighted me was his muffled admission the other night that â€˜I don’t mind paying a little moreâ€™ taxes. Taxation is a strong sign of membership in a polity; and the many calamities of recent years have confirmed to me that the government needs my money, because there are emergencies, within and beyond our borders, with which only it can deal.) I want universal health care and I want an interventionist foreign policy. I believe that the American president should help people in distress, at home and abroad–not all of them, but a lot of them. I like capitalism, but not religiously, and I feel the same way about diplomacy. I do not trust bankers to understand American values and poets to understand American interests. Taken together, these are political inconsistencies, but they are not intellectual inconsistencies. It is not my problem that the political culture of this country has made the liberalism that I inherited, and of which I was honored to become an heir, seem incoherent. Or maybe it is my problem: after all, I have to vote.â€
My problem, indeed. I don’t expect voting to provide the most complete or profound satisfaction (although I do believe my soul is involved). But next week I’ll leave the ballot box (or more accurately, the computerized booth) with barely any satisfaction, because I can’t vote for what I want without also voting for what I don’t want. And my quibbles are not small ones. No matter how I slice it, I’ll be saying yes to some policies I deem dangerous (for one reason or another) and others that I find utterly detestable. Such is the fate of moderates like myself.
And yes, I am dismayed. Instead of Obama or McCain, why can’t we have a hybrid? Someone who will stop the torture of prisoners and unborn babies? Someone who believes in A+ public schools and (real) freedom of choice in education? I want strong social services and strong traditional family values. I want gun control at home and success in war abroad. And while we’re at it, can we have a president who’s a sensitive diplomat AND a formidable commander-in-chief?
Alas, on election day I must make do with one or the other. But a girl can dream.
I’m sure at least a few of you are chomping at the bit to tell me why my dream is ill-informed, intellectually inconsistent, politically impossible, or otherwise sucky. Don’t. Instead, tell me your political dream. (But fair warning: if you mention the Green Party, you’ll be ridiculed backstage.)