Friday, March 21, 2008

My Latest Thoughts on the Election

Watching Obama's last speech made me think of the word "ideology." Louis Althusser defined ideology as a system of beliefs that creates the appearance of the beliefs as being reality, and gives people a sense of meaningfulness. We are all born into a world with pre-defined options. You are never outside ideology. People create texts (books, TV, movies, news) within it; we are spoken to by texts and these texts help make us who we are.

Ideology changes across each culture. For example, Nazism and Apartheid seemed like good ideas to some people because the ideology they lived in told them, not directly, but through social apparatus a dominant popular consensus (and brutal repression, but that's another post).

Each candidate is trying to convince the public that their view of the American ideology is the best. No matter how persuasive or moral they seem, they are trying to persuade you. They're politicians, it's their job. Doesn't make what they say any more or less impactful, but it should be recognized as that.

After Obama's speech, I have changed my preference from Hillary to Obama. I’ll vote for either, but now I like him a lot more. I prefer his take on our ideology over Hillary's. Two things struck me about his speech:

1. His explanation of white resentment (not that I feel this way) struck me, his ability to understand and explain where it comes from and empathize with those who feel negatively towards his own race. He was able to see both sides. There was no dogma or persuasion to follow any one perspective. That's what I want in a president. If we get attacked, I want the commander in chief to understand WHY it happened so that our response does not provoke additional attacks.

2. He criticized his former pastor for not seeing that this country, tainted as it is, is also able to have one his own congregation become a leading candidate for the presidency. I can't explain why this spoke to me, nor do I feel the need to, but bringing to light this contradiction between perception and reality really got to me.

Hillary's yelling “Shame on you, Senator Obama!” left a bad taste in my mouth (like a mean teacher in elementary school). I also don't like the 3am commercial playing to fears (too Rove-ish for me). I still think she would be a more productive president, using her contacts in congress to get more policies through. I still think Obama, if elected, will struggle with this (unless he has both houses of Congress as democrats, then it’s game on).

As of now, my wife and I are split (she's for Hillary). I am fine with that. The US a democracy, which means majority rules. Majority, not individuals. If we take these things too personal, we lose sight of what is good for the many and undermine the principles this country was founded on. I believe he is the best candidate for the job, but not the ONLY one. If I become an Obama-worshipper, Harley is allowed to smack me.


Anonymous said...

I would never smack you because I dont believe in physical violence. HOWEVER, I will make sure that you dont become one of those "crazies"! xoxo

TheMediaDude said...

Thank you for that deep and insightful comment.

By the way, I butchered the definition of ideology in this post.

Boywonderesq said...

I wish my wife didn't believe in physical violence.

Good call on the understanding why we're being attacked. Great post, and welcome back.

your sil said...

I like the underlying analysis - it feels right.