Tuesday, October 28, 2008

November 5th

As a student of history, I have always been fascinated with the Civil War. Not so much the blood and gore or how the river ran red at Antietam, but the thinking behind the beginning, execution and ending of it. I always admired Lincoln's quiet stewardship throughout the war. If you looked at those around him, they were busy saber-rattling while Lincoln pondered what was best not just for the Union, but for the states in rebellion. His goal was to unite, not continue thinking in an "us versus them" manner. He pondered, he thought, he consulted. And while some saw him as weak and taking too much time to make a decision, he would do not what was best politically, but what was best for all.

We are all reminded that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

It's just a few more days until the election and the bickering between supporters of each candidate is just mindboggling. How can we possibly continue to tear into one another right now, and then live together come November 5th? I've seem some amazingly brutal comments to news stories that leave me with my mouth hanging open in astonishment when they quickly become less about the article and more about vicious name-calling.

And I have to say that the majority of the name calling comes from the Republican side. (I've seen some scathing wit on the Dem supporter's side, but nothing so low brow as the Reps.) This can be followed right up the line from the lowest factors of society to the candidates on their podiums who use them as pulpits, with the audiences' boos and cries of "terrorist" as their hymns.

The more the polls are against him, the more McCain flails about like a drowning man trying to find a life preserver in a stormy sea. He said late last week that Obama will "say anything to get elected." I find no evidence of that. In Obama I see a steady, cool , well-spoken man who is sincere in what he wants to do for this country and confident in his message. John McCain is the one who will say anything to get elected, and what he has decided to say in these final days is anything negative that he can wrap his tongue around. His missteps and anger are coming closer and more frequently these days. As his dissatisfaction grows, the more water he inhales. The more he flounders, the more his mindless supporters rise up, gorged on lies and innuendos, spoon-fed hate speech at the hand of Sarah Palin, waving their pitchforks and brandishing their torches.

Frankly, I'm disgusted by this imagery. But it's all I see when I close my eyes after watching yet another clip of Palin on the stump. Obama has a strong chance of winning this election, but how long will it be before we face the frightening chances of a repeat of November 1963 thanks to McCain constantly basing his message on what will appeal to the lowest common denominators of society?

Where is the John McCain of 2000? The man who truly and honestly tried to run a campaign based on the facts and the needs of the nation? Who stood up to Bush running with rumors regarding his family? Who more believably could have been considered a "maverick?" If that man were running today, it would be a tougher choice. Now, he will say whatever works for the moment at hand, ignoring reality, and insulting those who once had a sensible reason for supporting him.

The more McCain and his supporters insult Obama, the more my decision to support him is solidified. When they attack him, my opinion of him is not dented, but my opinion of his detractors take a huge dive.

In Barack Obama, I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln, a president who saw an America that needed to change in order to survive. The America of today is one that can be so much more, and with Obama's stewardship, I have confidence that we will get closer to that America and our children will be better for it.

In closing, I offer you this item I pulled from the Lincoln Home site. It shows a victory in a time of war even greater than what happened between Lee and Grant in that tiny Appomattox courthouse, and it serves as a metaphor for what I hope occurs November 5th.

Lincoln's Legacy
After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on
April 14, 1865, many Americans wondered whether Lincoln had realized that his nation would survive the war, would continue, and would become one both in name and in spirit. There was a sign in April of that year, and it occurred just two days before his passing. On April 9, 1865, at the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, General Ulysses S. Grant insisted that all of the Confederate soldiers would have to surrender their weapons before they could go home. So on April 12, just two days before the assassination, the Army of Northern Virginia, for the very last time, marched in formation, toward the place where they would have to relinquish their rifles. Before they reached that place, they had to pass in between rows and rows of Union soldiers. And when they approached the men in blue, a quiet order was given, and those Union soldiers saluted. These very same men, who had been firing upon each other just five days before, turned around and gave each other full military honors. For at least these two armies, the war ended, not with shame on one side and exultation on the other, but it ended, as Abraham Lincoln wanted it to end, "with malice toward none, and with
charity for all."
(Or, if that was too "elitist" and highbrow for ya, how about the infamous words of Rodney King--"Can't we all just get along?")

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