November 11, 2008

Where Do We Stand?

I am always desperate to avoid presidential politics. I really hate it. It is often endless, and evokes far too intense passions for my taste. Sometimes it is vile. I wrap myself in a blanket of apathy and despair and snuggle down, hoping for the best. I do my best fighting on the issues and hope occasionally that something will trickle up and make a difference.

This last election was interesting, although I was quite sick of it by the end. It was a fascinating examination of our times. I won't rehash what everyone is saying about women presidents, women vice presidents, black presidents and so forth because it's all been done thoroughly and better than I could anyway.

I don't know that I learned anything more about America that I didn't know before, but I did learn things about the people around me that I would never have guessed. I discovered a long-time friend who I thought was politically aligned with me was voting quite different than I was. I discovered a man who I thought was intelligent and well-informed wasn't voting at all, and for what I thought was a very silly reason. I discovered a racist I know who makes liberal use of the "n-word" was voting for America's first black president.

Frankly, I still don't understand any of those things.

None of that matters, of course. (And as my husband frequently says to me, "You don't have to understand everything...")

What I have found moving is the reaction afterward -- watching the speeches of a gracious McCain and a humble Obama and to watch the Americans who have not lost their optimisim, those who want to work together to rebuild a country that feels like it has been down for a long, long time.

I am buoyed by the project "From 52 to 48 with love". When I am sitting at my desk concerned for our future that is where I will go.

I start my first term in local government in January. I live in a small town where it's possible to get the feeling that you CAN make a difference. I hope my trickle up theory of government works. I'll let you know in a few months.

[photo credit: jbelluch]


  1. I was so impressed with McCain's concession speech I was prepared to forgive about 50% of his mean-spirited and sometimes dumb campaign. Not all, but half.

    What have you been elected to? It really interests me that the ballot in the USA goes all the way from President down to Coroner and "Constable Mtn. Hartsuggs Twp", whatever that is. I couldnt find you in the Van Buren County llist though.

  2. I've been elected as an Alderman (a city council seat).

    Well, that ballot DOES sound funny when you put it that way. Do you not have those positions in your area? What is on your ballot?

    You didn't see me on the ballot because I was running unopposed. I left all unopposed positions off the list.

    By the way, "Constable Mtn. Harsuggs Twp" is the position of Constable for the Mountain Hartsuggs Township. :) I have always been bewildered about the position of Constable. I think it's an old archaic thing that nobody has bothered to get rid of. It pays nothing at all and so far I've never seen a constable doing anything either. (Now probably I will get angry mail from constables, but I'm sorry... I have no idea what they do, at least in our area.)

  3. Congratulations, Alderman Wendy. And good on you too. You have chosen to serve.

    When we vote in a Federal election, we vote for a local member of the House of Representatives (out of usually about 5 candidates) and six senators (in Tasmania anything up to 30 candidates, but in NSW they have about 70 sometimes).

    And that's it! Sometimes a referendum question, but usually not.

    The party that has a majority in the House of Reps forms government - whoever the leader of that party is, becomes Prime Minister. Same deal in Canada I expect. Parties are just as un-democratic here as in US. We have no say in who floats to the top of the parties.

    The idea of electing a coroner is COMPLETELY insane. I heard today that the US president directly appoints about 7000 positions. That's insane too. President McKinley was shot by someone who thought he should have been appointed to something.

  4. Thank you! I am really excited about the position!

    Okay, so here is a question then... do you not have any municipal (city level) government?

    For example, the coroner is a county-level position (state is divided into counties). Other county positions are County Judge (runs the county), Sheriff, Justice of the Peace (like an Alderman but on a county level instead of city), etc.

    What type of lower level government do you have?

  5. We have state governments and also local government - 3 tiers. The three sets of elections can happen at any time, they are not coordinated.

    Australians (partic. Tasmanians) feel that we are overgoverned. In Tas we have half a million people, with 12 senators, 5 members of federal house of reps, 35 state members of lower house, about 22 members of state upper house, then there are 20 municipalities/cities, each with a warden/mayor and councillors/aldermen.

  6. Okay, I was beginning to be concerned you were running amok over there. :) Whew.


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