I spent last night like millions of American’s glued to my television screen watching the made for TV movie: Game Change.
As I live tweeted that movie, I was taken forcefully back to the summer of 2008, and the decision that I had to make. For many that think like me, in the more liberal vein, it was a no brainer…Barak Obama was the person who would get your vote. It was not that simple for me, in 2008.
In the summer of 2007 as the Democratic field was large and White and male, only one candidate stood out to me as the person who could walk into the White House on day one, sit down, and get about the business of fixing this nation after George Bush Jr took it to the brink of destruction:
I looked at the field, and saw so many familiar faces like Biden, and saw a new and handsome face in Obama, but it was Hillary then (and kind of sorta now) that struck me as the person that was the best possible choice.
I fought hard for the election of Hillary Clinton. I volunteered, sent money, spent afternoons dropping off college kids on the streets of Philadelphia to canvas and made the argument everywhere that I went why we needed Hillary. My argument often fell on deaf ears, the charisma and the color of Barak Obama made him the choice for so many of my contemporaries. I spent the spring and summer ripping Obama signs off my front lawn, because it was assumed that because I was a registered Democrat, and that I was a Black woman, that I would vote for Obama.
As the summer swiftly approached an end and it was apparent that Barak Obama would be the nominee, I was still not willing to buy the bill of goods that he was selling. I thought him too inexperienced to do what I thought should be done, and I still hoped that Hillary would hijack the convention and show the nation what was in their best interests.
When the Democratic Convention was over, and the convention bump seemed insurmountable, suddenly John McCain did something that no one thought he would: he made the play to win, pushed all of his chips into the center of the table, and gambled his legacy on this woman:
I know that for some who will read this is it hard to understand just how big a move, how strong a move, how powerful a move this was at that time: nor how fucked up the handlers bobbled the Sarah football.
The choice of Palin appealed to so many people like myself: those who recalled a John McCain that existed before George Bush ripped him apart, and those of us who saw in the rejection of Hillary Clinton misogyny at its very worst. The choice of Palin also appealed to an America that so few of us knew existed until a Black man occupied the White House.
For the casual observer it didn’t make sense. For the first time viewer of last night’s HBO movie, it still doesn’t make sense…yet to those who were open to someone other than Barak Obama, it was the hope that he spoke about that we felt we could locate in someone that could actually do the job.
The HBO movie last night showed parts of the Sarah hysteria, but if you go back to YouTube and her VP acceptance speech, you can see just how big of a hard on the red state America had for this woman. For almost 4 minutes when she took the stage, she was not able to talk because of the applause.
Although her choice was not understood then, and is questioned now with 20/20 vision, her choice then was brilliant. Well kind of. Sort of.
Let’s talk about the intelligence first:
She was a woman. There is logic that says you can’t just put a woman in front of the electorate and expect women to fall in line behind her, but that is not totally accurate. There are millions of women like myself that are willing to accept a semi-flawed woman, over an almost perfect man, because we understand just how the scale against those of us with breasts is tipped and not in our direction.
The pick was late, very very late. The truncated amount of time that Palin was going to be exposed prior to moving to Washington DC, was worth the risk. As we saw, they almost pulled it off, even if almost doesn’t count. This was a woman from no where that only had to be out in public for a few weeks.
Palin appealed to the conservative base that McCain could not quite get to fall in line. She was pro life, she liked to hunt and owned guns, she talked the talk about small government. We look today at the havoc that the Tea Party has imposed on American politics, without understanding that the Tea Party is the direct result of the Bush Administration: and she was one of the first. The conservative base hated the policy of the Bush White House, and the revolt began there, and Sarah Palin spoke their language. Not only did she speak their language, she did it with those small words and awww shucks attitude that appeals to all that red colored election map real estate.
Palin may not have been up to a high school junior’s speed on foreign policy, but she didn’t have to be. The voters that she appealed to don’t give a shit about Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Slovokia, except that their sons are stationed there. Which brings me to another plus, her son active in the service. The only thing better would for her to have been a war hero herself, but then again, that is who McCain was right?
But let us look at the McCain/Palin ticket from a liberal Black woman living in an urban area and not drinking the Obama Kool-Aid.
I was looking at a man that I did not find to be qualified to be president, and across the way a man that not all that long ago I would have voted for over George Bush Jr.
I was angry that a more than qualified woman was shoved aside from a position she was qualified for, more than any other, not just because of her experience in the United States Senate, but that her life partner was a former President who could give advice and counsel on the level no other candidate previous could solicit.
I desperately wanted someone who would hit the ground running, and not have a steep learning curve.
Finally, I looked at Sarah Palin, like the rest of America, knowing nothing about her and thought she sure is interesting.
It was a few weeks later after I did my own digging that I hopped off the Palin bandwagon, but for a few moments I was there. Other people fell off for their own reasons, but for me it was her absolute refusal to support women’s reproductive rights that moved me from her.
In 2012, as the Republican field tries to find the opponent to President Obama in November, what has the field been talking about this past month? Women’s reproductive rights.
The election of 2008 was a sight to behold no matter which side of the political spectrum you sit on.
The other scary thing? Almost 4 years later, Sarah Palin is still with us. In theory she should have fallen into obscurity like Geraldine Ferraro, yet, her swag is still swagging despite her being painted as an idiot and abandoning her state, and all of the other negative traits attached to her.
Quite honestly, that should tell America just how big a bullet we dodged. A Sarah Palin, eased into the national scene, and groomed for a leadership role would be tough to beat. We are fortunate that she was thrust into a role she underestimated, by a man who wanted to be President more than he wanted to be authentic.
As November 2012 approaches, there are lessons to be learned from 2008, not the smallest of which is that the people who love Sarah Baracuda, are still angry, still feel threatened, and they are still not drinking the kool-aid.
They are not like me, in that they can not see any of the good that has finally begun to happen for this nation, while all they see is this uppity Black man in the Oval Office.
The game hasn’t changed no matter the title of the book: the game is very much the same. The players are just named Romney and Santorum instead of McCain and Palin.
This election is just as much about our future and who America hopes to be in the same manner 2008 was, and frankly the result should be no different.
Yet without diligence and excitement it could be, that should keep you up at nights,.
I’ve joked about my fear of a Santorum/Palin ticket, but is it that much of a stretch?
When 30% of Republicans still think President Obama is a Muslim. Or was not born in the United States. Or that he is a socialist. Or that he pals around with terrorists. Or that he has no faith and wants to take away your guns.
So much of the anti Obama sentiment is not about his policy, it is about his person.
The game hasn’t changed folks, not even a little bit.