Observations from a historical, mostly tepid debate.
For those who are unaware, I am Jeffersonian Republican, and a long time Obama supporter from his days in the Illinois State Senate. I try to view things as evenly as possible. However, I am biased to the bone.
The Root of Differences in Attitude
When things turn sour for humanity, your can usually trace it to some form of selfishness or self-centeredness. If you look for the root of all ills in the worlds, through the lens of the great religious/spiritual/existential scripture, you will find reference to this verifiable fact. Underlying this fact is, arguably, the most vital of all existential gems: everything that one does or does not do will affect everything and everyone. The term that I prefer to use for this phenomenon is interdependence. To ignore interdepence is to ignore the very ground in which all things are made, sustained, or destroyed. To ignore interdependence is to ignore an awareness that is older than the modern world. It is certainly older than America and the practice of Capitalism. It thousands of years older than both Ronald Reagan and Jesus of Nazareth. Interdependence is the aquafer that feeds life's rivers, ranging from personal reltionships to financial markets.
I have two basic observations from my life in regards to interdependence. These basic observations come from two things:
1. Being raised without a lot of income in my family.
2. Going to school and interacting with people who have a lot of income in their family.
There is an incontrovertable and observable trend within different income levels. Let me say that, this trend is not an absolute, and it does not apply to everyone in each income-level dilineation. However, it remains that, within low to mid-sized income levels, there exists a great need to assist or to recieve assistance in order to meet the needs of daily living. That is to say, when you have less money, you have to rely more upon others. Hence, someone who has less income cannot afford to isolate themselves from "neighbors" - the flow of there very life depends upon frequent and vital interaction. This is the recognition and pratice of interdependence.
Within the group of those who have higher income levels, there is less or zero need to assist or recieve assistance in order to meet the needs of daily living. Most all basic elements in life can be acquired without a significant interaction between people. Hence, someone in this state of income can afford to isolate themselves, and their vital actions, from "neighbors". This tendency is an observable fact, and often times, does not lead to a greater understanding or practice of humanity's most essential ground: interdependence.
The most significant observation, for me, in last night's debate was an observation of this delineation, strongly represented, in the two candidates.
McCain moves and speaks like someone who is an obvious state of isolation from a true understanding and pratice of interdependence. Although he may talk principles of interdependence, his actions and life, on the whole, do not reflect it. I feel no need to talk about his income level specifically. However, it is easy to see how moving through life from a famous military family, to being a playboy, to being a POW, to becoming a politician, to marrying an extremely wealthy family has created an insulation around John McCain's psyche and lifestyle.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, although he himself is wealthy, obviously and strongly displays the words and action of a man, who, at least in part, does not live in a world that is totally insular. His background and choices as a man are responsible for this.
What incensed me the most
The one element of the debate that spoke to me the most was, what I believe to be, the strongest expression of the difference in attitude between the two candidates. Even though Barack Obama disagrees with John McCain, and may not approve of John McCain's politics or personality, Obama tries his best to show his respect for McCain as a war hero and Senior Senator. During the debate itself, he was humble and courageous enough to talk and look directly at McCain. Obama was also humble enuogh to concede to McCain's better judgement in the bast. And most importantly, Barack Obama extended himself to McCain after the debate was over.
On the other hand, John McCain displayed no trace of these attributes. He displayed the attributes of a man who does not recognize nor truly practice interdependence. Very few people in this world, in my view, make the definition of the word "smarmy" easy to understand. John McCain, however (along with George Bush) makes it very easy. John McCain is smarmy. Not once in last night's debate, or in any expression in the past, has he shown a true ounce of respect for Barack Obama, or any of the obvious hard work that Obama has done in his life. His tone is totally condescending. He did not show Obama enough respect to make any eye contact, nor grasp his hand with anything but a cold and closed-off posture.
The chasm between McCain's talk of being the man who reaches across the aisle, and acting as a man who can't even extend his respect two inches from his body is vast. I now, officially, find him arrogant. I was holding off on that judgement for sometime. Now it is official.
John McCain's personality does not me feel pride in our nation.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden's personalities, with all of their quirks and negatives, do make me feel proud.
In the end, that's why I am voting for them.
In addition they represent the kind of thinking, relative to governance and policy, that I, generally speaking, agree with.