Rediscovering politics (Aug. 31 and ongoing until Nov. 4)

August 29, 2008

The last time I watched a political convention on TV was in 1988. The pageantry was fascinating to a high-schooler from the boonies — although after seeing two people nominated to run for president, I realized there were more balloons than substance floating around those convention halls, and I tuned out. The next time around, another kind of pageantry (wedding plans) was dominating my mind. And after that, I was living in Germany.

We lived in Stuttgart during a pivotal German presidential campaign, in 1998, and in the spirit of getting to know our host country, we attended the rallies for both candidates: Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroeder. The most telling difference was this: We went with the same group of friends each time. They included a buttoned-down engineer from Mercedes; a geeky, brilliant computer student; a gay 50-something art dealer in his trademark leather jacket — you get the picture. A very eclectic set who didn’t agree on whit on political matters, but they all felt it was their duty to go see both candidates and evaluate them from personal experience, and being friends, they wanted to discuss their impressions afterward.

I absolutely didn’t intend to get interested in this year’s presidential race, but it’s sucking me in anyway — to the point that I watched John McCain and his running mate on TV this forenoon. M. was home too, so we sat down together for it. He loved the pageantry and let the words fly past him (easy to do!) but I was following the content pretty closely, especially the part about Hillary Clinton. I know several women who’ll be thinking long and hard about their vote this fall.

As Sarah Palin introduced her family, M. asked if we could see those kids sometime. I started to think about it … especially the cheesy pre-recorded phone call we got the other night inviting us to Sunday’s (Aug. 31) rally in O’Fallon. So I logged on to the McCain site to see where the ticket locations are. Then I realized I’m probably nuts to even consider the idea — they are not going to give free tickets to me! I’m not even going to vote for McCain. Why would they let me in the door when they can instead have a supporter and HER 5-year old future Republican?

So I surfed on over to the Obama site. At his main portal, visitors who’re using a Mozilla Firefox browser don’t see the option to log on without entering their e-mail and ZIP code, so I googled my way around that, only to find that his event map didn’t work with Firefox either and I had to switch to Explorer instead. Grrr. I finally found the local Obama schedule I was looking for, but it doesn’t include a stop in the St. Louis area in the near future — I supposed because he was in state already this week, he won’t be back for awhile. So I showed M. photos of the Obama girls and explained that no matter who wins, the next president will be very concerned about little kids like him. But I didn’t explain why we’re not going to go see the Palin kids.

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