Color My Map

My wife couldn’t get over John King’s hands. (King, along with Wolf Blitzer, is one of CNN’s main electoral analysts on election night.) They were frozen in a sort of claw position no matter the gesture. I told her, “Uh. Everyone knows the molded action-figure-finger is the optimal hand positioning for manipulating the Magic Board.” Sheesk. She knows nothing about politics.

On another night where only “swing states” really mattered, John King’s crippled hands and political analysts, cable-wide, were literally swinging around digital states like misshapen blue and red pucks on ice. Grided counties and precincts and swirling percentages and exit polls and actual votes. It was like a math team had exploded.

This just in: I nailed my Montana prediction. Again.

The candidates have been campaigning relentlessly in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and Florida and Colorado for the chance that those states would swing to their ledger. Tonight Romney was only able to pendulum Virginia and Indiana and North Carolina, however. That was never going to be enough.

[For those of you keeping score at home, I went Obama, Romney, Obama on my predictions. Best 2 out of 3. Consider it “nailed.”]

I don’t mind the political striation of our country. It’s pretty amazing really. America is not comprised of drastically red and blue states, although such creatures exist. I mean, places like Florida and Colorado are literally split down the middle 50/50. And, that’s a real impressive thing. Our political differences live on top of each other. Don’t let the map and King’s hobbled hands fool you. It’s not red in the middle and blue on the edges. It’s a puzzle of both throughout.

I’m thankful for the mad theater of our national presidential race. It’s like the Super Bowl and Family Fued all rolled up into one. It creates real democratic energy and I believe we will see that turnout was up again for a fifth straight election.

My wife also wondered out loud whether John King was married for his incessant breathless and auctioneer style talking. Surely not. And, she vowed that she would certainly call to tell me to stop if I were ever in his position. Did I mention she plainly knows very little about politics?? Incessant talking like a precious treasure.

Congratulations to President Obama. I believed he had earned a second term. And while I don’t publicly endorse, I had privately hoped. As I indicated, we would have been in capable hands either way. But, I’ve always sensed in President Obama a discretion that I could trust even over policy I could not.


Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced djclutch.

Today’s blong here:

Swing State

7 thoughts on “Color My Map

  1. the rest of the world watched this and hoped that Romney would not actually become the president. Wake up, dude. There was only one choice, and the other was capitalist interest and not much more. Why are you people still so blind?

  2. Would you be willing to expound on why you believe Obama earned and deserved a second term, and also how supporting him fits in with your Christian beliefs?

  3. both good questions, guys. And, if he’s got the time I’m sure he’ll answer those. (I actually know the answers to both but, its his place to speak his thoughts, not mine.)

    Since the two fellas there commented about stuff in the blog, I’ll comment on the blong portion. I found it to work out really well, a wonderful match of lyrics and the beat (Clutch does some good work and when it’s a good day, it all comes together with your lovely rhymes.) I think its also crazy how many beats you get that somehow miraculously jibe with the theme and “tone” of the topic you’re blonging about. As a fellow crafter of hip hop music, my biggest struggle is finding production that has the right sound and feel for the point I’m trying to lyrically get across. This is another great example of you seeming to get a perfect soundscape. I tip the brim of my dreadcap to you, sir. Well done.

  4. @conduct, I wish I could take credit but that’s really all in the Providence of this exercise in song blogging. All the contributing producers have given me such amazing stuff and I’m careful about choosing among them but without fail the beats usually turn out even more perfectly suited than I could have imagined. It happens ALL the time. No one is going to believe this. But, I didn’t know that vocal sample at the end the beat was on their until the song was done. Honest.

    @Joey, I appreciate you asking.

    Sorry for the delay. Yesterday was super busy. Here are some quick thoughts. Not the whole picture but hopefully a useful account.

    If one accepts that we were nearly on the verge of the greatest financial crisis and meltdown of at least a lifetime and maybe ever, just 4 months before Obama took office, then it’s hard for me to understand how people can’t view any kind of stabilized, albeit still struggling, economy over the last four years a success. During Obama’s term, the stock market literally returned 6000 points. Our unemployment has been all over the place but coming back down. The housing market found a bottom and has returned some.

    To reject that view is to demand that a robust, rather than simply a stabilized, economy, even in the face of such economic crisis, was possible. And while we may have wanted that, hoped for that — a robust economy — I’m not sure how anyone can say this was any sort of possibility. Our financial and real estate and mortgage markets, by everyone’s estimation, republican and democrat, were overvalued for all sorts of reasons, including overemphasis on home ownership and an under appreciation of the risk associated with all manner of bad and mysterious securities. The market had to make a huge adjustment. Not only is it unreasonable to expect in 4 years for our economy to return to the same point, we wouldn’t want it to. Our mortgage and securities industries were built, in part, on a fraud. So we are not going to return to good economic health as rapidly as we fell from it. It’s neither possible nor desirable because to do so would require some of the damaging policies and practices that got us there in the first place.

    (It’s not my personal representation concerning the severity of the original crisis. The largest companies and financial institutions in our country and the world were calling the Bush White House begging for their financial lives. Could not make payroll. Could not stop the total devaluation of their own stock to zero. )

    So I am of the school that Obama managed, well, arguably the worst financial crisis you could assume as President. In so doing he

    – extended Bush tax cuts
    – by all accounts saved the automotive industry
    – created some necessary oversight on Wall Street
    – and stabilized, clearly not to most people’s liking, employment and investment sectors that were in absolute free-fall when he inherited them

    He also:

    – passed healthcare reform; which everyone plainly hates on both sides but that no president in 40 years republican or democrat had been able to do; both sides have been vowing healthcare reform, of some kind, for more than 4 decades and no one has ever done a thing; he did; I literally have no idea whether we will be better off or worse with the Affordable Care Act; no clue. And, I don’t really suspect anyone does. But it is a major, major policy accomplishment to Obama’s credit
    – oversaw the death of Bin Laden
    – oversaw the withdrawal from Iraq and the draw down in Afghanistan
    – ensured ratification of the START II Treaty
    – against my preferences, made reasonable choices about Gitmo and the prosecution of enemy combatants

    And, all the while, whether you think he has annoying physical and oratory mannerisms or not (what modern, 24-hourly covered politician doesn’t?),
    – behaved with class, dignity, and as a thoughtful person
    – free of scandal and embarrassment for this country

    The above is not incapable of dispute. Many people would quibble about the details and certainly the interpretation of it all. I just believe taken together, these are the indicia of a successful presidency under the circumstances worthy of a second term.

    As to how a vote for Obama comports with my religious views as a Christian, I understand how this is really the rub for most people.

    I would start by saying that I would be left without a vote were I to wait to see my personal religious views and preferences reflected in a candidate. Any vote, by definition, is always a compromise of my religious conviction. No person embodies them all. Not Obama or Bush or even my Pastor, were he to run. And not Romney. Not to snatch too low a hanging fruit, but I share essentially no theological ground with Romney. We practice entirely different religions. Whatever your view of his particular version of it, Obama is a practicing Christian.

    I would also make another caveat. And, I hope people will understand what I mean. My personal views, of whatever kind, inform every single vote I make. But, one of my personal views is that the very design of our country creates a place where the individual views and liberties of others are to be, not simply respected, but protected, almost always regardless of content. That is, for me, both a religious conviction (respect) and a conviction of political philosophy (pluralism, democracy, and civil liberties). So it is never, not ever, some goal of mine, as a religious person, to dictate the religious behavior of other people. That would be a disservice to true religion and an insult to the autonomy of people in civilized society. Civil law and order is about creating safety and security for people to live — not a sin-free zone. Murder is not against the law because it is a sin. It’s against the law because, when committed, it involuntarily deprives a third party of their ability to continue in society. To allow murder would be to submit to anarchy rather than the social compact of civilized order and governance. So when I ask myself whether something should be “allowed” or “not allowed” in our country, I don’t ask whether it’s a “sin,” I ask whether it can be undertaken by people, even as I might feel differently about it, without substantially disrupting the liberties of others in society.

    But, I assume your question has to do specifically with issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Just so you know, for most of my life, the abortion issue was the principal driver of my vote in presidential races. Even as I was fairly disgusted with Bush on almost every other count, I was motivated by the issue of abortion even to the point of voting for him a second time.

    And, although my full view on abortion is more nuanced now than ever before, I honor and advocate God’s mysterious sovereignty in the life creating process and the preciousness and humanity of the unborn.

    But something hit me during Bush’s second term. The “sanctity of life” isn’t a notion relegated to start, and end, of life decisions. The “sanctity” of the lives of people everywhere are affected in every policy decision our government makes. So to compartmentalize the sanctity of life implications related to the abortion issue from all other issues a president might make, is not to look at the whole picture. How likely is a president to take us into war? How would a president treat enemy combatants? How does a president view the responsibilities we have to each other, in food and shelter and education and healthcare? These are all questions that inform how a candidate might impact “life.” And when I saw the great craziness of the situation in Iraq it made me sort of sad that I had voted on one issue, still not resolved in my favor so to speak, to the eventual and ongoing deaths of so, so many others. I just had to reassess how I aligned my personal views with my vote choice.

    As a last point, and not to over generalize, but it just seems to me that the religious right has conflated, entirely, theological Christianity with ideological conservatism. It’s an impossibility that just because you might agree with Republicans on abortion that you would, therefore, agree with them on everything from tax policy to immigration reform to education to securities regulation. I mean what are the chances of that happening, right? That one party would be right on abortion and have discovered the “Christian” view on derivatives regulation and annual reporting. But, that’s where we sort of find ourselves.

    So this has led me to rethink all sorts of policy, including things like entitlement programs and tax policy. As a matter of economic and sociological policy, reasonable minds can certainly disagree about it — whether our social safety net of SS and welfare and food stamps and other government assistance is actually “helpful” to the people who receive it. There are compelling arguments on both sides. But, to call such programs “un-Christian,” in light of the Scripture’s teachings on the redistribution of resources and on community and on our responsibilities to each other and our neighbors and our enemies, seems incongruent to me.

    So as Obama champions such things in healthcare and tax policy and securities law and education, it doesn’t seem in any way inconsistent with my identity as a Christian. In fact, it seems to affirm that part of me.

    This all of course is just an example. We could go issue by issue.

    But, I’m trying to say (as succinctly as possible!), that in the compromise of my personal beliefs, as confessed before, I’m just attempting to find the candidate who, on balance, reflects my personal views, religious and political and economic, best. I’m making a kind of mental ledger that doesn’t hold one issue in isolation but measures the total effect of a candidate’s policies and person.

    This is entirely subjective. But, to me Obama is a reasonable person. There is so much about the presidency and the governance of our country that immensely far beyond our ability to ever know as a part of the general population. It’s a massive oversimplification to say, “Well, so and so agrees with me on X, and so he is well equipped to manage the most complicated country in the world and make thoughtful and difficult choices about decisions I not only know nothing about but will not even know are being made.” We are voting for judgment. I’ve tried to avoid some of the belittling commentary you typically hear in our political discourse but I’ll give my self a little rope. There have been a lot of crazy people trying to be our President lately. You might disagree with him. You might think he’s too liberal or not liberal enough. But, based on the tools of measurement we have at our disposal, President Obama is one of the least crazy choices we’ve had for President in a long, long time.

    I love politics. I’m not a political cynic; I’m one of its apologists. But, America and the “sacred” Constitution of this great land aren’t here to vindicate the truth and mystery of God in this universe. And, so I’m resolved to make the “imperfect” choice of a vote every four years knowing that whomever wins will make all kind of mistake and fail to represent me fully.

    I hope this has helped some. In all that I’ve said, I do not mean to be dismissive or condescending to any view differently held. And even as I might arrive at a different conclusion than you or others, I would always want to be known for having done so in humility with reverence and in pursuit of Godly wisdom.

  5. Wow “Edison” and “Joey”. You asked for it and he gave it. Sorry you asked??

    And, everything he said about me is true. Hated that guy’s hands – you know, the one who talked too much? And I would definitely call my spouse if he was on TV and talked without ceasing. Even if it was his job. It was highly annoying. Glad I am only subjected to this once every four years.

  6. @Sintax – First of all, Wow, thanks for sharing this in-depth view and letting us know a little more of you! Unfortunately I am definitely a political cynic at this time. I believe my vote in the presidential ballot is practically worthless with respect to being located in a historically republican, conservative state (I side with no party) and in regards to an antiquated electoral college in as far I understand its purposes . But in regards to your post (based on spacing):

    Paragraph 14: Agreed! I feel this same way
    Paragraph 16: Guilty – makes me feel uncomfortable that this is the main driver of many voters and is propagated by religious groups
    Paragraph 18: I couldn’t have worded it as eloquently as you, but yes and it didn’t hit me until Obama’s term
    Paragraph 19: Yes this is Super Scary…and I believe will continue
    Paragraph 20: I love the last sentence and the balance it brings
    Paragraph 26: We observe this in your songs and writings and earns you respect among your fans. And hopefully you are influencing others in a similar pursuit.


  7. Tanner, did I write that many paragraphs?? I almost didn’t know what you were referring to when I first read your comment.

    I appreciate you appreciating it. Thanks for a detailed response.

    A blog is almost by feature personal but I try to make as balanced a take as I can. And so explaining my views to this specificity is a little beyond what I prefer to do. But I know some portion of my readership understands me in a certain way and shares Joey’s questions. I felt like I owed a more clear explanation than I would normally share. This isn’t to hide anything. It’s just the philosophy of my work here — to not regularly suggest a precise answer to things.

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