There’s a stretch of road in my town that, up until recently, was devoid of buildings and traffic. It winds between the highway and the small airport on a north/south route for about two miles. It’s a route I enjoyed taking because, most times, I’d be the only driver on the road. I could wind my way slowly or push my speed to challenge the curves, worry free that there’d be other drivers to contend with – low risk and, well, relaxing.
It’s no longer an empty road. Progress has invaded with a surge that includes and strip shopping center, a Super Target and a new Embassy Suites hotel – and that’s only the beginning. Traffic has picked up, more stoplights have been installed and my enjoyment of a lazy two mile ride has been spoiled by shoppers hell bent to beat the next car to the best parking space.
Oddly, this road came to mind today as sort of a metaphor for some experiences of the last few weeks.
I’m not a person who enjoys controversy, nor do I like to stray very far from routine. I like things to stay on an even keel and agreeable. I’d like to say that this sort of existence brings me a nice level of peace of mind and tranquility. The truth is, though, I tend to take it too far and bury my head in the sand. I’ve become an expert at avoiding the uncomfortable. This has resulted in a solid pain in the neck – quite literally – that I have struggled to get under control in the last couple of years.
But I’m digressing a bit. On the personal front, in the last few weeks I experienced the death of a colleague and the announcement from my best buddy his wife is leaving him. On the work front – our office is the champion of low morale and poor working conditions. On the external front – the election has me more concerned than any previous election has in my lifetime. My nice, empty, winding life road is filling with with unavoidable traffic.
What I want to address with this post, though, is the last concern – the election. I got so wound up about this that by Friday of this last week, I was having small bouts of uncontrollable and irrational tears throughout the day. I wound myself up so tight that Friday night, I had perhaps the worst nightmare I’ve had in a long time, if not ever. I woke up panting and scared.
The source of this angst began with my indecisiveness over who would get my vote in my state’s presidential primary. As a registered Democrat, I had two choices – Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. My lead choice, John Edwards, had dropped out of the race. I took every chance to talk with friends and read everything I could in an attempt to make a decision. The critical factor for me was who was the better candidate to win the general election. Which one could beat McCain?
Getting the Republicans out of the White House is extremely important to me. I firmly believe Bush’s administration will go down in history as one of the worst – if not the worst – our nation has ever had the misfortune to experience. I also firmly believe that another Republican administration will do little to clean up GW’s mess and nothing for bringing the kind of change and leadership the nation needs to get back on track and strong again.
I was equally divided between Hillary and Obama. Not so some of my friends. The fuse to my extreme angst was lit after a conversation with a good friend and a response from another friend to a post on my other blog. Both of these individuals stated that, for them, it would be Obama or no-one. They unequivocally and unabashedly hate Hillary Clinton to the extent that if she were to get the nomination, they would choose not to vote..
I can’t understand it. The hatred borders on the irrational. I launched a search on the internet in an effort to understand and found that there is quite a faction of people out there that share this extreme hatred. It goes beyond a disagreement with policy – Hillary and Obama are nearly identical on their issue positions, so it isn’t that. It is vitriolic, vehement and unwavering hatred.
But that expression of hatred isn’t what wadded me into a ball of angst. It was the statement that if Hillary Clinton ends up being the nominee, these individuals that have this hatred for her, would throw away their vote and not vote. I love my friends, but I can’t respect that choice. I’d rather see them give their vote to McCain then to waste it in some petulant protest that proves nothing. Giving that vote to McCain might serve to make them think about what is at risk with another Republican administration:
- the loss of even more of the individual rights that the Bush administration has chipped away in the last eight years.
- the perpetuation of a war that is wasting billions of dollars that could be better spent on a crumbling infrastructure and rebuilding the farce that is “Homeland Security.”
- up to another decade before real progress can be made in the Health Care crisis.
- a worsening of the economy, more job-loss to off-shore and overseas interests, and increased unemployment…
I could go on, but I’ll stop there.
I’ve managed to calm myself down. I actually got a stretch of good sleep last night – a rare thing. I believe the haters are a minority and that whichever one gets the nomination will have the fight of their life to get elected. Either one will be fine by me. I urge my friends to rethink – really consider what not voting accomplishes – what would really be achieved by throwing that fundamental right away?
One last thought on my metaphorical drive. My quiet two mile stretch of winding road has a disturbing landmark. A tree was planted on the divide where someone died in an accident. No doubt a young one who felt the need to push the boundaries and had something to prove. I’ll leave you to ponder on whatever you wish to extract from that.