27 September 2008

The REAL culture wars

The Economist recently wrote "The decision to descend into tactics such as the kindergarten slur shows that America is back in the territory of the 'culture wars', where the battle will be less about policy than about values and moral character." By that, they were talking about the stereotype of - among other things - abortion issues, libertarian social policies, gay rights, and the ways we deal with crime.

I don't think that's at the heart of the culture wars - at least, not from this side of the fence.

Those divisive issues are worth talking about - all of them are certainly important and directly impact the lives of literally millions of people. They're of great concern to millions more (even though it doesn't directly impact them). But that's not the cultural divide that is really going on.

"I think they're friends," my co-worker told me yesterday. "I saw footage of them when they were both in the Senate, and they seemed to like each other."

That would certainly explain some of my wife's comments last night during the debate. "McCain's being rude to the moderator," she said. "Obama seems upset at that. McCain won't even look at him." It was a subtle thing - not everyone seems to have noticed it. Some even wished for more anger from Sen. Obama. But Sen. Obama's unflappability is a quality my wife and I both admire (myself somewhat jealously). For Sen. Obama to show even a smidgen of being upset would require a great emotional turmoil.

Having a co-worker - even a friend - turn on you in person might do that.

Everyone expected Sen. McCain's staff and campaign to be somewhat ugly. But it seems like Sen. Obama thought that Sen. McCain would put aside bitter personal attacks. He expected Sen. McCain to act like a grownup. And Sen. McCain betrayed any camaraderie, betrayed any friendship between them not for the good of country, but to try to get more for John McCain.

This is the culture war that is really at the heart of things.

Are we merely self-serving, greedy individuals who would betray everything for personal gain? Or are we a people who can come together and work to help everyone - including ourselves?

The candidates and parties have different platforms, true. But even when I disagree with Sen. Obama, I can expect him to listen and take me seriously. Sen. Obama gives others credit - even when others argue that he shouldn't.He is someone who will give credit when it is due.


When we disagree with Sen. McCain, we can only expect venom.


Do you want to elect someone who will listen to you, even if you disagree - or do you want to elect someone who will betray friendships to win?

[Edit: Pictures taken from the Huffington Post.]
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