Tag Archives: Clinton

Politics: Freedom to Choose

Originally this was published in the online magazine called Fearsmag.com. The magazine didn’t last long due to the withdrawal of funds by the benefactor during the dot.com crunch. I was an editorial writer and took a look at different fears to write about each month. This was the December column for 2000 but it’s appropriate now.

Christmas or politics? Christmas? Politics? Agh, the indecision nearly froze my fingers on the keyboards, sort of like choosing which candidate to vote for. Well, I decided that Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule/your favorite winter festivity happens once a year but this unique political picture forming in Canada and the US happens but once.

            I’m not going to go into great detail on the buffoonery, the conniving, the shiftiness, the lying or even the successes of the candidates. I’m going to dig around in that really nasty cesspit of the fears we have about our politics.

            On the lighter side, we are lucky; we all have the right to vote and with some degree of democracy, with all its requisite odors and flavors per country. That’s good. I’ve had nightmares about a future where we were all enslaved, fighting for our rights and freedom from aliens or dictators and bigots. Freedom fighting has been a popular theme ever since our ancestors climbed out of the trees and pretended they were civilized. Freedom is the integral right of the individual, though ask a handful of people on the street and what freedom actually means will be quite different from one to the other. UPN’s new show Freedom is just about that; the US president is shot and the good guys fight the military regime that’s restored order to a rioting USA.

            Now I’m Canadian but close enough to the border that half my friends are from the USA. I’ve heard enough about the politics to get an idea of what people think, at least the West Coast. Freedom in the US election meant choosing between two leaders with as much personality and flavor as cold spaghetti without the sauce. Clinton, even if he was careless enough to let his private predilections fall under the White House spotlight, has lots of personality. Many people told me they were afraid of the old world, right wing, knee jerk politics that Bush represented. Some even said old Bush senior had at least been a statesman but Jr. hasn’t lived up to that image. He represents to many a redneck, narrow-minded conservatism.

            Well if you don’t want Bush you have well, er, um Gore, (Gore actually became stronger and better known after the election.) not exactly someone of scintillating mien. Many people liked what Nadar stood for but were afraid that if they cast their votes for his determination to launder the old political baggage that they would be tossing their vote away and letting Bush in. There you see the freedom to choose but fearing to choose what your heart says is right.

            And what bigger fear could we have than that our democracy is but a sham, that computers are being fixed with ballot tallies, that authorities are delaying folks long enough that the polls close, that ballots are confusing, that information is leaked to media sources before it should. It would make a great conspiracy movie or perhaps, it’s the truth.

            Now let’s look at the other half of the coin. (I know little of Mexican politics but have heard that el presidente Fox is somewhat right of center.) Here in Canada our election just happened. The ruling party, the Liberals spent eight years in office and curbed the National debt, but at the expense of human welfare and lives. There have been issues like the APEC rally and the loss of freedom of speech and civil liberties. The Bloc Quebecois only cares for one province and not at all for the rest of Canada, yet because of population alone always stands a chance of being the government. I fear that if the Bloc won, Canada would be a country no more.

            Then there’s the Conservative party, which used to be strong and either the governing party or the official opposition. After Brian Mulroney’s heavy-handed bludgeoning of the country the Conservatives dive-bombed all but out of sight. Like the proverbial phoenix, they’ve been trying to resurrect themselves from the scathing ashes that many remember and which gave us the hated GST (goods & services tax or better known as the gouge and screw tax). However, this phoenix is still small with but a few feathers and not a contender.

            The NDP (New Democratic Party) could stand a chance if they had a stronger leader and weren’t willing to completely blow the national budget with wholesale spending. Then there’s the Reform party, renamed the Canadian Alliance party. (The Reform nee Alliance party congealed back into the Conservative party, like  a phoenix, but containing more right-wing thinkers.)  They booted their founding leader Preston Manning out just a few months ago and put in the younger stronger Stockwell Day. Day and his party have stuck their feet in their mouths in the past, stating they’re not so far right wing that if they were a bird it would never get off the ground. (Day would have been a scary combination with Bush.) They’re not racist, yet one member once said it was all right to have colored people work in your store—just have them go to the back if it offended anyone. They won’t use a religious-political agenda but they’re all for “family values” which means no gay rights, no women’s rights. I’m sure they believe a woman’s rightful place is in the home. They want tougher criminal laws. Granted our justice system is flawed, but should we really take a DNA sample from everyone charged with a crime, whether found guilty or not?

            Many parties, yet the mindset on both sides of the border has been who to vote for, no one’s particularly good, and some are downright scary. Here’s my nightmare—that Bush should get in and that Stockwell Day should win here. Two extreme right wing leaders, two powerful and large countries, most of North America, a lot of guns, and a lot of “free” people. If you ever read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (or saw the movie) it’s a fear I find still too close to my future.

            Well, Canada went to the polls and, like the US, feared the worst and cast their votes. The US has Bush (still being determined) and we voted in the lesser of the two evils and have the Liberals yet again. At least it’s not my worst nightmare.

            Whatever we voted many of us our still stuck with the fear, the gnawing small fear that, like an insidious worm, eats away at us from the inside. Our biggest fear is that our government isn’t working, that our politicians are lying to us. Do our voices and our votes even make a difference or are they just a drop in a vast ocean of indifference? We fear we have no choice in what we see. There is no good alternative and if it’s actually presented, we fear to choose it because not enough others will and we’ll then end up with a worse evil.

            We are afraid of the darkness of our democracy, the loss for everyone to choose his or her own path, to move about freely, to say what we think. But what if it doesn’t matter? What if the handful of the powerful and those who control the country’s wealth let everyone think their vote counts for change or upholding values when in fact it’s all hollow? What if those powers that be, “they” just do what they want–what they have always done because they “know” the masses don’t know enough about governing a country or the political process itself? Therefore, they will guide us and our country and our policies whether we like it or not. What if freedom of speech means only speaking in a place at a time when they want you to but not if it causes too much thought, too much questioning?

            Remember Desert Storm? I was in New York around the time the troops were coming back. A ticker tape parade and all the fixings for heroes. But there were those who disagreed on the military policies. Bus shelters with pro posters had graffiti scrawled in indelible ink on the glass. They were scrubbed and cleaned, or replaced before the troops arrived. In New York? A park in the lower east side, near where I was staying had police tape and sawhorses up so that people couldn’t gather and speak out against the military’s activity. (Shades of Beijing.) Gatherings had been planned but the police banned them. That was freedom of speech.

            True freedom means never bowing down, never giving in to the dark, the evil, the bigoted and the judgmental. Yes, one must work within a society but freedom means being heard and continuing to be heard, to shout, to scream and to keep screaming until other voices join in and those voices are heard. Becoming complacent about the freedom to choose is when it can be taken from you.

 

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Politics: Gender Voting

I’m more than a little disturbed by several things going on in our political world today. Of course I’m always disturbed by racism and bigotry, and certain genderist trends seem to be rearing their ugly heads right now.

The first is that in the US for the first time, can I say ever, there were women running for presidential candidates. Okay, one running for presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) and another put in as a VP running mate (Sarah Palin). It’s great that there are women in politics and of course there should be more. It is still and often a man’s world where a woman politician will be mentioned in the press for what she wore rather than what she stood for. The media is getting better at this and in the US and Canada there are women politicians.

But when I hear some woman say that she would vote for Hillary because she is a woman and then will now vote for McCain because he has a VP running mate who is a woman, it scares me. How stupid can people get? Obviously, very stupid. I’m sure there are men who would have voted for McCain if Hillary got in because they think politics ain’t no place for a woman. I’d like to think this is a small percentage but I don’t know.

Since the Suffragette movement women and politics have been mixing (if not unofficially before). Looking at Palin and Clinton, their views are so diametrically opposed that it’s like comparing a salad and a piece of baklava; they’re both food but that’s it. These women are women but that’s it. Their attitudes are different, their beliefs are different, their ways of thinking and acting are different.

Not all women are the same or think the same. This seems pretty obvious to anyone of intelligence. Just as men are not the same. Men and women can have the same views just as they can have different views. Hey, buttheads of both genders, vote for issues, not for a person’s gender. Those that vote for McCain because of Palin, (and gods help us if they get in) will get what they deserve. Unfortunately, everyone will suffer.

Likewise in Canada, there are four parties running in the federal election, with Elizabeth May of the Green Party being the only woman leader. However, there has been recent news that the Green party is putting in candidates who are women, which is fine but if the best candidate is a man they’re being overlooked or worse, being barred from being a candidate in a riding. WTF? Does no one see a problem with this?

I’ve always had huge problems with people being barred from something based on their gender. Humans are of equal intelligence independent of gender. Men are stronger in average but unless a job is only physical women can do all the jobs men can. Any party or any person who chooses their candidate because of gender should be smacked upside the head. On top of this, it’s downright scary and a slippery slope to such groups as the Taliban who subjugated women to such a degree that they couldn’t work. I’m sure they couldn’t vote, if the Taliban even allowed something as democratic as voting.

Men should not be banned because they are men. Women should not be voted for because they are women. If we were in a country where women (or men) had been tamped down so much they had few rights and the only way to ensure some balance against bias was to vote for gender, then that would be a different thing…if their views supported what you believe in. I’d say I’m embarrassed to be a woman, but I’m not. I just think there are women and men out there who should be embarrassed because they’re thinking with their genitals, not their brains.

Let’s see some intelligence in these elections and no gender politics.

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Dreamscape

Well it’s the usual Friday, except it’s still pouring and it’s a long weekend and I’m going to try and camp. Ick.

But I’m going to relate a dream I had two nights ago. It was amazingly visual and perhaps this was one of those muse visits. In the dream:

I’m driving some kind of Rolls Royce down the highway and several people in the car (I have no idea what they looked like) said I was going too fast. Then we’re in this meadow, which is hummocky with sparse trees, a few old locks and rocks. It’s light green and brown and looks an awful lot like my friends’ ranch in Clinton, BC. I’m driving down the middle trying to avoid various humps when a moose comes up to the car. It’s small for a moose and has moss on its antlers.

Then up the middle comes this amazing animal. It looks like a deer but in truth it is made of wood and moss and twigs and leaves and its alive. We just stop and look at it, noticing its dark eyes.

Next, as dreams do like to shift, I’m walking with some people into a glacial snowy area. There is a huge mountain and something like a high white shelf piled with hundreds of feet of snow. I look up think it looks pretty weighty and then proceed into the cave that turns into this long, downward sloping roughly chopped snow tunnel. It is in pale shades of green and white and light blue and just at the bottom I can see it starts to slope up again.

Then we hear a rumbling and great torrents of ice and snow flood up the passage, an interior avalanche. I manage to crawl out some side holes between the grey rock with two other people. Five are left in there including two friends, Karin and Eric (who I haven’t seen in years). Once it stops we go back in to find them and all the snow has turned to sand. We pull each person out from under the sand and besides being slightly damp and unconscious, they wake and are fine.

A friend of mine likes to interpret her dreams but I’m not sure I can with this. The interactions with nature were very strong. And groups of people mattered but were mostly anonymous.

Many of my dreams are muse driven, that is, they end up becoming stories. I don’t think this one will and even though there was that avalanche the feeling in the dream was one of wonder, where no one was injured. The colors were vivid and important, and I really hope this is not just a portent of early winter.

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