Last summer, which now seems so very long ago, we looked at some people and trends in US politics and policy making who have affected our lives, some for good, but mostly not. I really enjoyed the "Where in the world is" posts in the series, even as I shuddered to write some of them. Bob Packwood's "sinewy arms" just scare me. But as we look toward this midterm election season—and perhaps with some of those personalities of yore in our collective rearview mirrors as reminders of where we should not retread—it's time to ask where the politicians of today have in mind for our future.
In the next two months I'll delve into some of the candidates running for office, pointing to as many contradictions as I can before I fall over at my desk. It will be non-partisan because it has to be, as Bitch Media is a non-profit, so don't ask me to risk their tax status. We'll also take a look at the rhetoric around the overall and individual races for Congress and the Senate to see if gosh, there are any patterns in what we're talking about this electoral cycle. I also want to explore what isn't being talked about—that some of the health care reforms are working well, directly out of the box, *cough cough*—and turn an eye toward what is likely to come up first for debate once the dust of Election Day settles. (Hint: Social Security.)
Of course, we'll have to take on the issue of rallies. So many rallies. It's almost (anti-Vietnam War demonstrators) as if nobody (Million Man March) ever held (1993 March on Washington for gay and lesbian rights) a march (March for Women's Lives) before Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin stood at Lincoln's feet overlooking the reflecting pool.
I'm very excited to have another 2-month guest stint to explore current political shenanigans through a critical lens, and I'm looking forward to your thoughts and comments.
Yes, oh yes, we will talk about Rand Paul and Christine O'Donnell and Dan Quayle's son, and many others. And thank goodness, there will be no mention of former Senator Packwood's sinewy arms, because I know those haunt us still.
Esquire magazine's blog ran a so-funny-it-worries-us article on the missives of Rand Paul, which I'll quote here:
If Rand Paul had his way, we'd still have child labor ("Because sometimes in really poor families, kids just have to pitch in."), we'd have no redress in court ("Yeah, those things just get so jammed — everybody playing the blame game. I mean, sometimes mines just collapse, you know? Nobody's fault. I think it's called gravity."), concentrations of corporate power could never get too big ("I mean, they must be doing something right, you know?"), and restaurants that only want to serve people who trace their ancestry to
northern Europe would be okay, and everybody should stop being so touchy ("I mean, if you don't trace your ancestry to northern Europe and you're really hungry, if you ask nicely, maybe they'll let you come in. I mean, these are things we can solve without laws and stuff.")
This springboards straight at the heart of one of the concepts I'll take up over the next two months, which is simple: What politicians say matters. Their words have effects and consequences—it's easy to write them off, and certainly, many of the lesser-known independent candidates are going to lose these elections. But last summer certainly showed us that for some percentage of the US population, these ideas, many of which I would describe as cockamamie, resonate and result in a weird justification of anger. Toward undocumented workers, toward women who speak out for reproductive rights, toward LGBT people, and the list gets longer all the time.
So what if Ben Quayle put out a video campaign ad that gets the US deficit number wrong by 11 trillion dollars? Or if Christine O'Donnell has the loopiest, least comprehensible definition of "feminism" that I've ever read? Did you miss it? Here it is:
". . .let me qualify that -- I consider myself an authentic feminist. Not as defined by the modern movement. And, let me clarify that a little bit more. I was an English major, so break it down: -ist means one who celebrates. As a feminist, I celebrate my femininity."
These folks have gotten attention for their remarks. A whole lot of attention. So much attention that we're not hearing people give voters concrete plans for reigniting jobs in the US. We're not talking much about the looming deadline in Congress to extend President Bush's $1,000,000,000,000 + tax cuts to the rich. We're not talking about the still-climbing high school dropout rate. We're talking instead about going on dates with witches and who got fired from CNN. We're watching words like "feminist" get so twisted around that they lose their meaning.
And by and large, mainstream media isn't spending a lot of attention on far-right candidates for the Senate who aren't Christine O'Donnell, like Joe Miller in Alaska, Ken Buck in Colorado, Marco Rubio in Florida, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Mike Lee in Utah. But we'll be talking about them here!