Remember this? John McCain, in the hail Mary pass to end all hail Mary passes, announced then-governor Sarah Palin as “the next Vice President of the United States.”
Note the fanfare. The waving flags. The uplifting score.
(I feel slightly nauseated myself, recalling the dull fear in the pit of my stomach that day. I haven’t quite recovered. Take a moment for yourself if needed, and rejoin me when you’re functional.)
With one stroke of spectacularly poor judgment and characteristic recklessness, John McCain singlehandedly created two monsters, the first being, naturally, Palin herself. We know her flaws now. She’s had her day in the sun, basking in the glory of conservatives’ love and excitement. Fortunately, her schtick has worn thin with all but the most fervent of worshippers. (uttered ominously) She has fallen into shadow…
Then, though? My initial reaction: “Who the hell IS this woman? How much of a threat is she?” The answers weren’t reassuring, as we all now know in tabloid-tawdry detail. (grimly) Sarah Palin — an ignorant, arrogant woman of no distinction, character or intellect — could quite possibly have been granted access to the red phone had one cancerous mole experienced a sudden growth spurt on one particular host. My delayed reaction: “How did things come to this? Now we’re calling that brainless harridan a feminist and a worthy candidate for Vice President of the United States of America?!”
For her, that day was a game-changer. It also saw the birth of a second monster.
This monster was created by the horrified realization that all will not just turn out well without you and me entering the fray with righteous fury and resolve. The arc of history does not bend toward justice of its own accord or by pure chance. Sometimes, the course of history is determined by who cares more and is willing to work hardest. I once believed that paying attention, watching from afar, and voting my conscience in an informed way would be enough to prevent crazy, stupid, ignorant people from determining my fate. I found out in a heartbeat that I was nearly catastrophically wrong.
Go ahead, castigate me for being a relative newbie to real activism and participation. Or congratulate me for getting a clue, whichever suits you.
Did I immediately contact the local Obama campaign team out of conviction that Obama was the perfect candidate? Did I knock on hundreds of doors because I loved him from the start? No. I was late to the fan club. What drove me was raw survival instinct, gnawing blood-chilling fear, and determination not to let that evil duo or those who sponsor them get full control without a fight to the death. Like many people, I work harder to avoid pain than to pursue good, because biological imperative trumps philosophy sometimes.
Hyperbole? Perhaps. My perplexed and irritated husband challenged my commitment of time and resources to the campaign with this: “You act as if the fate of western civilization hinges on this election!”
It did. It does. And it will until the end of time.
I enlisted for life and have reported for active duty. Sorry I was late. (looking for someone in charge to salute, finding no one, forging ahead regardless.)
Thank John McCain. He made me. (wink)