Perceiving through Appearances


Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

I’m really quite an apolitical person. Really I am. I’ve fought the urge to post this piece all week because I rarely talk politics. Yet when I sat to write, it’s the only thing I could think about, other than a chapter in my almost-finished novel.

I’ve been a registered independent since I could vote. Ironically, I haven’t been excited about a presidential candidate since then. Yet this election has me fired up. I thought a lot of people felt the same way. That is, until I saw a recent aol survey that found most people still vote the way their parents did, doing little research into the candidates, let alone the issues.  My parents, God rest their souls, would smirk if someone asked them if how they voted influenced me. The “in” in “in”dependent does not a person “in”fluenced make.

Some things do influence me. I tend to vote on issues instead of people, although I have friends and loved ones who vote more based on a candidate’s ethics than his or her voting record or political platform. Until I read the survey, which after all, is only one survey, I thought the majority of Americans, if not the citizens in other democracies, voted on the basis of either ethical or platform allegiance.

I wonder if the media has anything to do with this. Every time I turn on the news while I’m doing my cario workout, it’s either McCain’s or Obama’s (every so often Bush’s) talking head peering out at me. Last week, it was also Dolly. Yet even the war coverage is submerged underneath all of this campaign coverage. Forget what’s going on in a place like Pakistan, or even Darfur. And does anyone know about the elections in Liberia?

Who’s not aware of the ever-increasing media role in politics, especially after this last week? The way the media has handled this election’s candidates has always been suspect to me, but this last week left no question as to their motives. For certain, Obama generates a lot of deserved attention. Perhaps more excitement since the Kennedy years, which many people today weren’t even alive to witness. He speaks to a new generation, because he is of that generation. He speaks to a multicultural world, because he is multicultural. He exhibits intellect and decidedly sound judgment. It’s just that Obama standing up on stages around the world and generating replayable soundbites does not a president make.

If you think I’m voting for McCain, you’re probably mistaken. (Although I tend to always champion the underdog, if that underdog is deserving.) If my grandmother were still alive, she’d tell you about the time I wanted to take the “ugliest” kitten in the litter home with me, because I thought she was the most beautiful. When she told me the kitty was ugly, to choose a prettier one, I told her my kitten was the one with the prettiest soul. I can’t speak to McCain’s or Obama’s souls, nor should we be voting for them in spiritual terms (separation of church and state and all that). However, I can tell you that McCain is the media underdog right now, and that makes me attracted to him. I can also tell you that Obama is the global media darling (and if there was a world election right now, he would win hands-down), and that makes me shy away from him, on journalistic principle alone. And perhaps a shade of my independent streak.

Of course, beyond journalistic principle, I have a multitude of reasons to vote for Obama, the main one being that he seems to stick to his own principles and  decisions. Another is that he seems to have a broad, global view. It’s a good sign that he lived overseas and has a degree in international relations. But my fear is that many people, who will never read this, and never read anything McCain or Obama has written–especially not their books, penned well before they became presidential material–will vote on the basis of one mis-statement, or one stellar 15-second television feed,  which is like reading a tour guide book and thinking it’s like visiting a country.

Or worse, they’ll vote for a candidate because it’s the way they’ve always voted, or their parents and grandparents always voted.

Or worse yet, not vote at all.

This is one election in which we need all the informed votes we can get.